Curriculum Principles

The Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study (JICS) Laboratory School takes a developmental approach in defining program goals and expectations and has articulated the following central principles:

Curriculum is Challenging and Coherent

Across grade levels and subjects, the goal of the curriculum is deep understanding and engagement in learning. We use the Ontario Curriculum of the Ministry of Education and Training as a basis for overall expectations. Enrichment permeates the JICS Laboratory School curriculum and is available to all students.

Curriculum is Developmental

Every subject area is taught in a developmentally appropriate way respecting the salient characteristics of both the age group and the individuals.

Curriculum Supports the Whole Child

Every teacher at the JICS Laboratory School accepts responsibility for balancing social, psychological, and emotional growth with academic learning. We believe that the curriculum needs to be cognitively challenging, authentic, and social. The curriculum respects the family, cultural, and racial diversity which is valued at the JICS Laboratory School.

Curriculum is Creative and Responsive

Facilitated by the principal, our teachers use knowledge of child development, the sequence of acquisition of skills, and the inquiry and security philosophy of the school as guiding principles in developing the curriculum. Teachers respond to individuals in the group and reflect student interests and questions in the daily work of the class. Teachers communicate across divisions and subject areas about the curriculum as it is taught to each class.

Curriculum is Integrated and Holistic

Children are encouraged to use multiple ways of knowing and expressing their knowledge. Subject matter is frequently taught in ways which blend the disciplines and allow the application of skills gained in one domain to the exploration of another. Timetables allow for specific subject teaching as well as integrated approaches to the curriculum. Music, Visual Arts, Drama, and Physical Education are taught by specialty teachers and integrated with the work of the classroom. There are resources for both Special Education and French language instruction.

Explore Our Subjects

Core Subjects

In Language Arts, students access, comprehend, interpret, analyze, evaluate, and respond to language through reading; communicate effectively as speakers and writers; and listen and respond in an informing, empathetic, and critical manner.

Our students value mathematics and its usefulness in everyday life. They display confidence and elegance in their ability to function effectively in situations involving mathematics; think, reason, and communicate mathematical ideas; demonstrate strength in problem-solving and computation; use technological tools appropriately and effectively; and transfer knowledge beyond the mathematics classroom to enable lifelong learning.

In Science & Technology, our students develop knowledge and skills in the areas of life science, physical science, and earth science. Students work to understand and appreciate the workings of their natural and physical environment; demonstrate knowledge of facts, concepts, conceptual networks, and process skills that enable them to continue to learn and think logically; and understand how science, technology, and society are interrelated and useful in everyday decision-making. Our students are young scientists constructing deep understanding.

In Social Sciences, our students develop knowledge and skills which include anthropology, economics, geography, history, philosophy, and political science. Students work to understand themselves and society; be prepared for active citizenship; understand how the past influences the present; develop an appreciation for the complexity of the community and the world; live competently and productively in a complex world.

Specialty Subjects

No art form is more collaborative than Drama. The JICS Laboratory School Drama program is designed to stimulate the imagination of students from Nursery to Grade 6, while encouraging the growth of artistic and collaborative skills.

Students are challenged to accept the viewpoint and contributions of others, as they create a dramatic structure in which conflict is developed and the thoughts and feelings of dramatic characters are explored. Language skills are enhanced at every stage in Drama, as students learn to effectively communicate their ideas, and later, to communicate the ideas of a dramatic character. 

Each week students create and share imagined environments through which they can build social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills, and best of all, they have a lot of fun doing it!

At the JICS Laboratory School, the French program offers the Accelerated Integrated Method (AIM), also called the Gesture Approach. This method has been proven to help children internalize new vocabulary by associating gestures with words. AIM teaches words of high frequency, allowing children to accumulate a wide vocabulary base in the early stages of language acquisition.

  • The Primary French program (Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2) intersperses gesture instruction with other vocabulary acquisition tools in order to bring variety and fun to the classroom. The goal of the Primary French program is to create an environment that promotes the love of French.
  • The Junior French program (Grade 3 – Grade 6) continues the use of the AIM method as well as teaches students how to describe, ask questions, retell, extend, and create stories. Student learn vocabulary and grammar, in both oral and written form, and also use expressions, verbs, and adjectives.

Goals of the JICS Laboratory School Library program:

  • To nurture a love and appreciation for books.
  • To broaden children’s view of themselves and others by ensuring they encounter mirrors of their background, identity, and experience, as well as windows of difference.
  • To collaborate with the classroom teachers in terms of skills and inquiry focus.
  • To create an environment that encourages the students’ literacy skills development.
  • To develop information literacy through technology.

We Love to Read! Check out the new & recommended books in our JICS Laboratory School Library!

The Music program at the JICS Laboratory School explores rhythm, melody, tone, colour, dynamics, genre, and more. Musical movement games and singing are an important part of the program.

  • In Primary Music (Nursery – Senior Kindergarten), the students focus on movement, singing, listening, and playing simple instruments. They explore the concept of ‘steady beat’ and enjoy rhythmic and melodic games and activities.
  • In Junior Music (Grade 1  – 6), students continue to develop their sense of rhythm, melody, tone, and genre. Students will learn and use the solfege system to better understand, melody, harmony, intervals, and chords. Working in ensemble, students learn composition, improvisation, and performance skills.

The goal of the Health and Physical Education curriculum at the JICS Laboratory School is to enable students to develop their movement skills, health-related fitness, and understanding of what it means to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Through child-centred instruction, the program aims to instill confidence in students to participate actively and think critically about movement and health. Students will have the opportunity to exhibit leadership and decision-making through the creation and exploration of games, dances, and routines.

In the JICS Laboratory School Resource Room, our Special Education teachers work with individual students to address needs in reading and writing. In the early years, we support students with letter formation, spacing between words, writing for an audience, and choosing rich descriptive language. In the junior grades, students learn about grammar, sentence structure, paragraph writing, and proper punctuation. In working with the classroom teachers, students who come to the Resource Room receive meaningful, purposeful, and contextualized lessons that are aimed at students’ individual literacy levels.

Children are born artists, and their time in art should be a joyful process of discovery, self-expression, and the building on of existing ideas and skills. Students in the art studio will learn and practice creating and communicating responsibly and respectfully in a collaborative space.

Classes often begin with a brief introduction, activity, or discussion before students embark on their own discovery of methods and materials. Students will explore the elements and principles of design through collage, drawing, painting, clay and sculpture, construction, printmaking, and photography.


In an inquiry-based classroom, the teacher assesses student progress on a continuous basis throughout the school year, collecting and using a wide range of information to provide an informed and comprehensive picture of the student’s learning.

Enabling students to express their understanding in differentiated ways is crucial for many reasons, but especially for the following:

  • Helping students understand how they can improve is closely related to the feelings that students have about themselves as learners specifically, and about learning in general (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010a).
  • “Using multiple sources of evidence increases the reliability and validity of the evaluation of student learning” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010a).

Some examples of varied and authentic assessment sources include, but are not limited to: student questions, inquiry lab books; portfolios; visual art; and anecdotal observations.

Students at the JICS Laboratory School graduate at the end of Grade 6 prepared for Grade 7 in either public or independent schools in the province of Ontario. Throughout their years at the JICS Laboratory School, students are offered a program in which enrichment in every subject is encouraged and available.

Students at the JICS Laboratory School are evaluated continuously throughout the year through various formal and informal assessments. These are used to shape student goals. Reporting to parents is done in regular detailed interviews and summarized in a written report card. In addition, the school participates for research purposes in the Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) from Grade 2 to Grade 6. This is a series of standardized, normed tests in mathematics and language which compares both individuals’ and the school’s overall performance with other students and schools. JICS regularly scores above the 96th percentile on average in each test taken.