Primary / Junior
Students in grades 1-3 will engage in an academic program that integrates all subject areas through a thematic approach, with a strong focus on the development of literacy and numeracy skills. Following the Ontario Curriculum while significantly broadening its content, the primary program focuses on students’ social development and acquisition of higher order learning skills through the use of diverse teaching methods and differentiated instruction. Educators infuse evidence-based methodology into fun, meaningful contexts to incorporate real-world connections into their learning. The learning environment is a safe, nurturing, student-centered, dynamic place of wonder where students are encouraged to learn holistically with their head, heart and hands.
The junior program builds on the rigorous and robust primary program by emphasizing engagement within a real-world context through the thorough analysis of multiple perspectives using critical thinking. Students in grades 4-6 play an active role in working to create a cooperative community that fosters confidence, respect, resilience and high self-esteem for burgeoning, life-long learners. The program content, along with the small-class size and community structure of the school, contribute to the development of engaged, critical change-makers and environmental stewards.
Our English program is rich in content and integrated into all areas of our curriculum. Students learn that language is a holistic process that requires developing knowledge, practice, effort, perseverance, and confidence. As such, the language program fosters a balance of reading, writing, oral communication and media literacy skills while encouraging learners to express their voices, values, and creativity in a challenging, relevant, and engaging setting. Teachers plan together to ensure consistency from Grades 1 through to Grade 8, so that students gain close familiarity with terminology and processes by the time they reach high school. While we emphasize literacy, and reading and writing for the love of it, we also take an issues-based approach to learning, infusing our program with references to current political, social, and economic events around the world.
Voice students are not shy to speak and express themselves in different scenarios. We expect our students to present their ideas and experiences to their peers and teachers from the very beginning. As they progress, there are numerous opportunities to speak at assemblies, to parents, and to prospective families, including at our Student Led Interviews, Open Houses and our Issues Fair Presentation.
Students in Grades 1-3 learn reading, writing, and oral communication using various teaching approaches and learning materials. We use a balanced literacy approach to guide our young students through the early stages of language skills acquisition. Students are given many opportunities to progress in their reading fluency and comprehension with the use of leveled reading books; students spend time each day reading to themselves, their peers, and their teachers. They also have multiple opportunities every week to practice different modes of writing, such as procedural, recounts, creative storytelling, etc. Every day, students discuss, present, listen, interact, and communicate their ideas, perspectives, and learning. Early Primary media literacy focuses on applying the basic questions of who, what, where, why, when, and how to examples of media relevant to their age, such as posters, commercials, movies, etc.
In Grades 4-6, we begin to focus more closely on the fundamentals of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Students also begin to develop the ability to organize ideas clearly in sentences, paragraphs, and brief reports. They learn to express themselves through informative, persuasive, creative, and analytical writing in the context of various units of study. Their reading fluency and comprehension starts to become more sophisticated as they learn to infer, draw conclusions, and reflect on various texts. Reading materials include novels, poetry, newspapers, magazines, short stories, encyclopedias, myths and legends, non-fiction, fairy-tales, etc; these sources are both in print or online. We build on oral communication skills by incorporating discussions, debates, presentations, skits, interviews, and songs, and, through these, begin developing their ability to think critically and articulate ideas using support from texts and / or experiences. Finally, in Grades 4-6, students engage with media literacy by analyzing and discussing examples of media in their local and global world, such as advertisements, websites, commercials, the news, TV shows, films, social media, the radio, etc.
“Learning an additional language not only challenges a mind, it also teaches understanding, encourages patience, and fosters open-mindedness.”
– The Ontario Curriculum 2013, French as a Second Language, pg.7
There are many good reasons to learn an additional language. At Voice, we see our French program as a gateway to new opportunities, ways of understanding the world around us, connecting with Canadian and global heritage, and accessing diverse cultures. We see multilingualism as an essential component of global citizenship.
The central goal of our French program is language acquisition: reading, writing, and, most importantly, speaking! Throughout all grades, the language of instruction and student interaction is French. We offer an early introduction to French beginning in Grade 1, with a complete focus on oral communication in the primary grades. Grade 4 marks the beginning of our formal core French program, in which both reading and writing are introduced. Our program focuses on infusing music, dance, drama, visual arts, and students’ interests in order to make learning fun, engaging, effective, and relevant. Ultimately, we prepare students to use the language confidently and fluently in authentic contexts.
At Voice we offer an early introduction to French, beginning in Grade 1. Throughout the primary grades, students participate in a weekly French class entirely focused on building conversation skills. Through games, singing, acting, discussion, and teacher-led read-alouds, students will develop a comfort with the basic sounds, rhythms, and structures of the language. Our early introduction to French prepares our students to be successful and confident as they enter the formal Core French program in Grade 4.
Beginning in Grade 4, the French program drama, music, dance and choral speaking to help students gain fluency, confidence and a joy of language learning. The program is both motivational and academically rigorous. It is designed to provide an experiential foundation and to develop a range of essential skills in reading, writing, and oral language, including a foundation in grammar, vocabulary and comprehension.
Another central element of the Core French program is the connection between language and culture. Students will focus on different locales of francophone culture and explore the foods, holidays, humor, and traditions of these cultures. When possible, field trips to francophone communities are used to offer an immersive and experiential opportunity to supplement and reinforce classroom experiences.
Feeling competent in math is empowering for all students. We strive to foster a positive attitude and confidence as well as higher achievement in math by engaging students in unique strategies that build from year to year.
Implementing an approach known as “Spiraling” means that teachers continually review previously taught material as opposed to teaching a single unit at a time. Consistently reviewing strands allows students to tackle math with confidence as there are ample and regular opportunities to practice their skills all year long! Strands are expanded upon and deepened with each encounter. Spiralling the math curriculum also allows students to see connections between strands as they are revisited throughout the year to further solidify their understanding.
The entire Math program is presented in the unique VIS style, making relevant, practical, and real-world connections that are concept–based, engaging, and enriching. Our math curriculum combines hands-on, experiential learning opportunities which empower our students. Teachers use an instructional platform that focuses on effective ways to consolidate learning while promoting critical thinking in a way that meets the needs of all learners.
The program is designed for students to practice skills and strategies in steps that become incrementally more challenging. This approach, supported by student-centred discovery, immediate feedback and direct instruction, builds a sense of personal achievement and competence. Students gain a deeper conceptual understanding of math and build mental math strategies. Our program infuses a healthy balance of meaningful numeracy learning, problem solving and the integration of technology.
Students progress knowing the power and purpose of math and how they can use it to better understand and participate in the world around them.
- Social Studies
VIS strives to reach students from various directions and also hopes to create students who are interested and passionate about peaceful global relations. For this to happen, it is important that students are exposed to the interconnected systems that have developed throughout history, and that students are given the opportunity to develop perspectives and opinions based on these complexities. Providing the information and then the space for critical analysis to take place is vital in creating Global Citizens, and VIS’ Social Studies and Global Studies program strives to meet these goals using the Ontario Curriculum as a baseline.
The Primary Social Studies Program fosters a sense of inquiry, curiosity, and experiential learning, through a program which is participatory, engaging, and academically rigorous. It encourages proficiency in the fundamental concepts and terminology of geography, history and social sciences and nurtures a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of society and the environment. It incorporates the Ontario Curriculum Expectations, while infusing integrative education approaches and philosophy. Students develop research and communication skills, reflect on how the past impacts the present and they work to envision preferred futures. The program provides a balance of independent and collaborative work, seeks to develop organizational and time management skills and includes opportunities for personal reflection, self-assessment and goal setting.
Social Studies at VIS has a primary focus on the development of culture throughout history and the impacts of that on the world around us. We begin with an exploration of local and global governments followed by a cross Canada adventure, where we learn about the various landscapes and regions of our country. We examine how humans have used and abused the environment and imagine a future that is sustainable and peaceful. The Ontario Curriculum provides the content guidelines and we take these concepts and bring them into a current, real-world framework, basing our studies on actual events relevant and integral to our own human experience.
VIS strives to reach students’ diverse perspectives and also hopes to create students who are interested and passionate about peaceful global relations. For this to happen, it is important that students are exposed to the interconnected systems that have developed throughout history, and that students are given the opportunity to develop perspectives and opinions based on these complexities. Mapping skills are also infused into all areas of the Social Studies and Global Studies from grades 1 to 8. Providing the information and then the space for critical analysis to take place is vital in creating Global Citizens, and VIS’ Social Studies program strives to meet these goals using the Ontario Curriculum as a baseline.
The Science Program at VIS follows the Ontario Curriculum while analyzing it with a specific emphasis on critical awareness, nature, and environmentalism. We relate this material directly to current global events such as natural disasters, water shortages, climate change, and stem cell research, for example. We examine how world events impact the environment, politics, health, and society. This way, we’re able to infuse student learning with relevant and current – yet still scientific – subject matter.
Students have many opportunities to engage in hands-on learning through demonstrations and labs. These formal lab reports are written with a specific emphasis on understanding experimental design. Students also work on research projects that focus on key scientific concepts and present this information in a variety of ways.
The philosophy of “learning by doing” is key to the Science Program. This multi-dimensional approach to teaching and learning is accessible to students and solidifies core subject matter. It also sparks a sense of excitement and interest in Science, serving students well in future courses. Students are not only instilled with a desire and a sense of responsibility to care for our planet, but they are also given the tools and the confidence to take action.
The Primary science program at VIS is filled with many trips, hands-on, and experiential opportunities for students to engage in. The learning that happens both inside and outside the classroom fosters a sense of scientific inquiry and discovery. It encourages a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of our world and infuses our Integrative Education™ approaches and philosophy.
The Junior science curriculum also fosters a sense of scientific inquiry, discovery, and experiential learning, through a participatory, engaging, and academically rigorous program. It encourages proficiency in the skills and strategies required for scientific inquiry while nurturing a deep understanding of the connections between society, technology and the environment. It incorporates the Ontario Curriculum expectations, while infusing Integrative Education™ approaches and philosophy. Students will implement the scientific method during hands-on experiments, develop research skills and investigate the role of science and technology in their life. The program provides a balance of independent and collaborative work and we participate in many field trips in order to engage in authentic, real world learning.
What parents and educators are saying
“Voice has meant so much to both my boys. It provided a safe, compassionate and empathetic environment that they called their home for over 5 years; where they flourished, were heard, and explored their self. VIS fostered integrative learning and critical thinking, so the boys developed strong opinions and took the opportunities given to demonstrate leadership and “be the change” in their world. Our favorite yearly event was listening to them directly about their learning in their student lead interviews. We are grateful as a family that VIS was a part of our lives and will live on forever!”
Parent (2019) & founder of Hi Five For Life.