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Academic Program

At ICS Addis Ababa we believe in providing a balanced educational program to all of our students by offering not only a strong academic program but also a broad range of co-curricular classes. The elementary school begins at early childhood, ages 3 and 4 (EC3 & EC4), and continues up until grade 5. We offer an American curriculum with an international perspective and we strive to instill respect for the host country at all levels.

Language Arts

ICS offers a balanced literacy program to students in kindergarten to grade 5. Students learn many of the traditional components of reading and writing along with handwriting, spelling, and grammar.


The approach to reading that is employed is widely known and respected as one of the most effective ways to teach reading. Students receive balanced instruction in reading that encompasses phonics instruction (K-2), shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading time. Classrooms at ICS are richly endowed with a variety of books to encourage reading, and students receive explicit instruction in reading strategies through interactive read-alouds performed by the teacher.

Writing, Spelling, Handwriting


The writing program that is employed is built upon the foundation of the Teachers College Reading and Writing program at Columbia University. At ICS we want our students to believe that they are authors and we encourage them to publish their writing frequently in both public and private settings. Teachers and students begin working in a variety of writing genres as early as Kindergarten. KG – grade 2 students begin by developing a sense of story and then go on to write narratives of their life experiences. Although they are young, these students go on to learn informational writing and poetry, as they explore ways to express what they know to others.

In grades 3-5 students study several writing genres that are spiraled throughout the curriculum over a three-year period. Students learn to write personal narratives, personal essay, realistic fiction, literary essay, and memoir. Each of these genres of writing is explored in greater and greater depth as the student progresses from grade 3 to grade 5.


In order to meet the needs of individual students, teachers are able to choose from a variety of approaches to teaching spelling. Some of the spelling programs that are available to teachers are Real Spelling, Words Their Way, and Month-by-Month Phonics. Spelling programs in each class may vary, but the basic understanding that all students should be taught how to spell explicitly prevails throughout the school.


At ICS, we use Handwriting without Tears as the basis for teaching students how to write the letters of the English language. In kindergarten to grade 2, students learn basic print. In grades 3-5 students begin to learn and perfect cursive. As students progress from writing letters to words, and words to sentences, their handwriting becomes more and more legible and their confidence in writing increases as well.


At ICS, we believe that instruction should develop mathematical thinking, problem solving, and reasoning in our students. Students learn through Everyday Mathematics (EDM)—a program developed through the University of Chicago. EDM begins with the premise that young children can, and must learn more mathematics than has been expected from them in the past. They need a mathematics curriculum that is both rigorous and balanced:

  • A curriculum that emphasizes conceptual understanding while building a mastery of basic skills
  • A curriculum that explores the full mathematics spectrum, not just basic arithmetic
  • A curriculum based on how children learn, what they’re interested in, and the future for which they must be prepared

The program helps children move beyond basic arithmetic and nurture higher-order and critical-thinking skills, using everyday, real-world problems and situations while also building and maintaining basic skills, including automatic fact recall.

Children are expected to master a variety of mathematical skills and concepts, but often not the first time they are encountered. Mathematical content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences. Our students study important concepts over consecutive years through a variety of curricular formats. Each grade level builds on and extends concept understanding so that children approach each new challenge from a firmly established foundation.


ICS Addis employs a hands-on approach to science that uses the FOSS (Full Option Science System) science program. We believe that the FOSS instructional approach reflects current research on learning (i.e., collaborative learning, student discourse, and embedded assessment). The goal of our science program is to increase scientific literacy across all grade levels, while exposing students to age-appropriate content and inquiry skills that will support future learning. FOSS science is a research-based program correlated to the National Science Education Standards in the United States of America.


Grade Physical Earth & Space Life
G5 Variables
Simple Machines
Solar Energy Puberty and Human Reproduction
G4 Magnetism & Electricity Rocks & Minerals Human Body
G3 Water (Ethiopia)   Plant Growth & Development
G2 Solids and Liquids   Life Cycles

Air & Weather

New Plants
KG Wood & Paper   Animals Two by Two



Students in kindergarten are introduced to color mixing and tempera paints. In Grade 1 students start to explore color, shape and lines using mixed media. In grade 2, students use both color mixing and the combination of line, color and shape to create projects like “My Dream House.” In grade 3, the element of texture is introduce along with color mixing and lines, colors and shapes.

Students in grades 4 and 5 spend the early part of the year reviewing the elements and principles of art and design in order to build visual and perceptual skills that they continue to use throughout the year in a variety of art projects. Students create line compositions, drawings from observation, and design projects focused on symmetry, balance and the use of positive and negative space. As the year progresses, students explore both art history and contemporary art as inspiration for their own art creation. Students experiment with a wide variety of media including paint, printmaking, textile design and clay sculpture. Creative and critical thinking are valued and developed through ongoing discussion of art and aesthetics.


At ICS, elementary music students are given opportunities to explore what it means to be musical. Students are encouraged to actively participate in singing, playing instruments, composition, improvisation, and listening while developing literacy in music. Encouraging students to experiment with sound while exploring the musical components of rhythm, melody, form, tempo, dynamics, timbre, and texture are an essential aspect of the program.

Students have opportunities to explore music in a variety of settings, including whole classroom, as a soloist and in small groups. Problem-solving and investigative learning are actively encouraged. A variety of repertoire is learned and performed, with an emphasis on exploring multiple genres of music from across the globe. Students have quite a few opportunities to perform throughout the year in assemblies and concerts, thus having the opportunity to learn performance as well as audience skills.

In kindergarten, students develop rhythm and pitch awareness through musical games and movement. In grade 1, students continue to develop rhythm and pitch awareness through musical games and movement. In grade 2, students start to identify and perform more complex melodic and rhythmic patterns. In grade 3, students continue to explore the concepts of form, mood, expression and style while performing and creating a more complex repertoire of music. In grade 4, ensemble skills are further developed as students learn how to play recorder. In grade 5, students continue to develop a variety of skills during general music class.


At ICS Addis, our main objective is to develop internationally-minded students who are able to communicate effectively with people from other countries and cultures.

In the elementary school, taking French as a second language helps us to achieve the goal of introducing second language study during the primary years, and it prepares our students to study other languages once they reach middle school.

At ICS, we help each child develop listening and speaking proficiency in the French language as part of our core curriculum. The elementary school has two French teachers who divide classes into beginning, intermediate, and advanced groups, which helps implement a learner-centered approach.

French as a foreign language courses are offered from grade 1 to grade 5. Programs for grades 1 and 2 are called Initiation 1 and Initiation 2, respectively. The curricula for grades 3 to 5 are based on a communicative and dynamic method, “Alex et Zoé”, aligned with the standards and skills developed by the Common European Framework for Languages. Students work on five standards: listening comprehension; oral expression; written expression; reading skills; cultural awareness.


The elementary computer program at ICS begins in the EC3 level and goes all the way to grade 5. Students in EC3 to grade 1 are exposed to a variety of programs that help develop their fine motor skills. They learn how to click, double click, drag and drop. Bailey’s Book House, Millie’s Math House, Kid Pix, I Spy Jr, Puppet Playhouse, Brain Play and Kidispriation are just some of the programs being used in the EC3 to grade 1 program.

Grades 2 to 5 have flexible scheduling; this allows teachers to better integrate IT with the different subjects taught in the classroom. While students in grades 2 and 3 are exposed to new applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs, grades 4 and 5 focus on combining all skills to create multimedia projects.

The elementary computer program also integrates with other subjects such as Music, French, Art and PE. Integration allows students to better understand how the use of technology can be applied outside of the classroom.

The intent of the elementary computer program is to make students feel comfortable with technology and to equip them with the educational tools necessary for them to succeed in and out of the classroom.

Physical Education

Physical Education in the elementary grades aims at the development of the whole child that includes the psychomotor, cognitive, and affective aspects of each child.

The beginning focus of the program is the development of the children’s physical fitness that serves as the base for learning complex motor skills. The fitness unit includes what it means to be physically fit and the identification of activities for the development of the various fitness components. PE teachers determine focus elements and work a meaningful program that would address each child’s need. Currently, students are working on hand-eye coordination skills with special emphasis on ball handling and rhythms.

In the lower elementary grades, students learn the basic movement concepts such as body awareness, spatial awareness, and their relationships to objects, locomotor skills (galloping, hopping, skipping, running, and jumping) and non-locomotor skills (bending, twisting, stretching, and controlling objects). They also learn dance movements, hand-eye coordination skills, both individually and in groups.

The upper elementary grades focus on the refinement of basic movement skills and their applications in preparation for game situations. Grades 3 to 5 students have an opportunity to participate in intramural games that enhance the development of game skills and teamwork. Activities in the intramural games extend skills learned in the regular PE classes.

Following the physical fitness and hand-eye coordination skills is the learning of manipulative skills and the development of foot-eye coordination with special emphasis on floor hockey and soccer respectively.

Student Support

We have a very strong and dedicated student support team to ensure all of our students are able to progress and excel. To find out more about the student support program click HERE.