Welcome to the Lower School

The Lower School experience is a seamless continuation of the support and challenges provided by our exceptional faculty in the Early Childhood Division. Our young risk-takers approach their learning with a curiosity that is validated by intuitive, inclusive teachers who understand the power of questioning, and are poised to work alongside students as they learn to think independently and use their voice to ask and take action about things that matter to them. 

Students are keenly observed by our master teachers who understand the balance of guidance and gradual release. Lower School is a time to engage further in academic preparation and productive struggle - pushing the limits of what students know and want to know. These are years of increased risk-taking and innovation as a result of a more evolved approach to questioning and problem solving.

Across the Lower School, the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) guides inquiry-based, conceptual, and transdisciplinary learning. Our Learning Studios are designed to facilitate a variety of working styles: independent, small group, and whole group. The student experiences lead to sustained and demonstrable consolidation or extension of conceptual understanding, competency across disciplines, and character development. 

We look forward to welcoming families and students to our extraordinary new space, and to the ways we will work together in making it a place filled with transformative discovery and learning. 

Come on in!

Warm regards, 

Nasreen Ikram

Head of Lower School and ECD

Throughout the Lower School, students will experience a range of researched-based programs including Wilson Fundations phonics, which develops solid decoding skills through explicit, targeted instruction. We follow the Six Traits Writing framework, which brings students’ attention to the elements of powerful writing. The concrete use of materials and visual cues in Singapore Math provide our students with real-life math concepts and builds mental math skills. 

Our focus on social emotional learning is a daily undertaking, and we do this intentionally at various times throughout the day, but particularly during daily class community meetings and weekly assemblies. Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching and discipline that focuses on positive community relationships and effective self-management. Guidelines from this framework help us create safe and engaging school communities where students develop strong social and academic skills. 

Grades 1 (6-7 years old) and 2 (7-8 years old) are the introduction to Lower School. These years provide our students with strong foundational academic skills and many opportunities to gain automaticity in literacy and numeracy. Routines and expectations increase in these grades as students work towards self-management as well as collaboration with peers.

Grades 3 (8-9 years old) and 4 (9-10 years old) are the “middle years” of Lower School. These are years of increased risk-taking and innovation as a result of a more evolved approach to questioning and problem solving. The Units of Inquiry will provide students with more opportunities to delve into reference books, develop higher level thinking, and encourage more risk-taking in finding their voice.

As the culminating year of Lower School, Grade 5 (10-11 years old) at Dwight School Hanoi provides an opportunity for learners to become mentors to younger students. Our fifth graders also have a chance to become experts as they embark upon a rigorous eight week cycle of research, collaboration, and presentation in The Exhibition. Choosing a passion project and making a plan to effect change nurtures an activism that is precious and unusual at this age. A similar end of programme showcase is planned at the end of Grade 10.

The PYP is designed for students aged 3 to 12 and begins with the premise that students are agents of their own learning and partners in the learning process. It prioritizes people and their relationships to build a strong learning community. PYP students use their initiative to take responsibility and ownership of their learning. By learning through inquiry and reflecting on their own learning, PYP students develop knowledge, conceptual understandings, skills and the attributes of the IB Learner profile to make a difference in their own lives, their communities, and beyond..


The transdisciplinary themes mark the starting point of student inquiries. It is within the context of each theme that students explore central ideas and ask questions. These themes elicit rich dialogue between students and teachers as students build understandings about themselves in relation to their communities and the world. 

The Six Transdisciplinary Themes

  • Who we are -An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships, including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
  • Where we are in place and time - An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between, and the interconnectedness of, individuals and civilizations from local and global perspectives.
  • How we express ourselves - An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
  • How the world works -An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
  • How we organize ourselves -An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
  • Sharing the planet - An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

Students inquire into, and learn about, globally significant issues in the context of units of inquiry, each of which addresses a central idea relevant to a particular transdisciplinary theme. Lines of inquiry are identified in order to explore the scope of the central idea for each unit.

These units collectively constitute the school’s program of inquiry. The full program of inquiry at Dwight School Hanoi is dynamic and subject to minor changes as teachers adapt and plan collaboratively to meet the needs of their students and the changing context of the world around them.