USP offers a complete child education approach rooted in the basis that every child should be happy, healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged to grow in their educational environment. We promote a culture that ensures students are given time to develop their interests, passions, and learn the wider skills required of them in a safe and supportive environment while being academically challenged and engaged.
Our installations are specifically designed and built around various types of environments for a well-balanced school setting. Our preschool and kinder atmosphere is divided into various stations which are designed to enhance a specific subject matter. Students will continually rotate and move between stations throughout their day. With each rotation, subjects and teachers change along with the program, leading to fundamental improvements in the brain’s capacity to respond to environmental demands.
As children grow their bodies demand more and more physical activity. The expression of energy for children is purposely built into our students’ daily schedules. Head, Heart, and Hands (H3) allow our students to achieve more meaningful interactions through participation and movement.
Elementary learning involves students acquiring the necessary foundations in literacy, numeracy, creativity, and communication skills. The primary goal is to build on the natural curiosity and passion of the students – seeking answers, exploring ideas, using equipment and resources, and working with others. USP provides students with an innovative, collaborative and purposeful learning environment supporting independent learning.
USP’s curriculum is complemented with modern and up-to-date textbook programs, interactive visuals, animated content, international and multicultural music, expansion of artistic mediums, connected with a strong foundation in computer science.
All of our programs are accredited and validated by the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) of the Republic of Panama.
USP is strongly committed to teaching our students about Panama and how throughout its 500-year history it has grown and to be recognized as both the “Bridge of the Americas” and the “Hub of the Americas”. We will teach geography, history, patriotic symbols, the National Anthem, and the Indigenous communities.
Head, Heart, and Hands Model
Learning for children is not solely developmental in nature, there are transformational qualities that need to reach beyond content and formal knowledge to include application and disposition of how to create meaning and value to the world around us. USP applies the Head, Heart and Hands Model in how it applies to Transformative Learning Theory:
HEAD: Refers to engaging the cognitive area of the brain by exploring concepts.
HANDS: Refers to depicting the psychomotor area of the brain by learning practical skills and physical work, such as building, planting etc.
HEART: Refers to enabling the affective area of the brain to form values and attitudes that will translate into behaviors.
Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards
The CCSS and NGSS are informed by the highest, most effective standards across the United States and countries around the world. The standards define the knowledge and skills students should gain throughout their K-12 education in order to graduate high school prepared to succeed in entry-level careers, introductory academic college courses, and workforce training programs.
- The standards are research and evidence-based.
- Clear, understandable, and consistent.
- Aligned with college and career expectations.
- Based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher order thinking skills that are
built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards.
- CCSS is used by various top performing countries in order to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society.
Children that are exposed to more than one language in early childhood years display improved cognitive control and abilities, volume, the density of gray matter, and brain connectivity.
Our curriculum includes three languages:
English is our primary language and will be taught across the curriculum in different subject areas.
Spanish will also be taught in our Language Arts Program as a separate subject and interdisciplinary in Social Studies.
Mandarin is the third language that our students will be learning scaffolded and integrated into each of the grades. Once our students reach High School, Mandarin for Business will be taught.
Physical Fitness – Learning Readiness PE
Based on the work of Paul Zientarski, Learning Readiness Physical Education (LRPE) is an approach that integrates physical education into a student’s daily schedule, particularly before they engage in their most challenging core subjects such as math and reading. The program typically involves a forty-five-minute physical education class five days per week. The premise of LRPE is that exercise can create an environment in which the brain is more ready, willing, and able to learn, thus enhancing academic performance.
This concept is underpinned by substantial research showing that exercise can improve learning on several levels. First, it optimizes a student’s mindset to improve alertness, attention, and motivation. Second, it encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for encoding new information. Third, exercise stimulates the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus. Other research has shown a strong correlation between physical fitness and academic performance, with one study indicating that a reduction of 240 minutes per week of academic class time replaced with increased time for physical education led to higher scores on standardized math examinations.
There is scientific evidence that shows that students who learn programming at an early age have fewer gender stereotypes in relation to STEM careers – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
CODE.org is the first Computational Science program that seeks to join the current education system and USP is honored to offer this innovative course as part of its curriculum. The Syllabus was written taking into account the standards of the K-12 Computer Science Framework and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and is reviewed every two years with the intention of keeping it updated with computer advances.
UNICEF – Kid Power / Brain Breaks Program
Brain Breaks for kids is a simple technique in which young students are given a short mental break taken at regular intervals. Some of the benefits of using brain breaks include helping kids to be calmer, remain focused while also stimulating physical activity. Brain breaks have also been shown to significantly reduce stress levels in kids, providing organic improvements to learning and higher engagement levels.
The curriculum has been designed so we can ensure that are our graduates have the necessary skills to be productive men and women in an ever-demanding and challenging world, where full comprehension and life skills will give them a competing edge over their peers.
Looking Forward – Apple Distinguished School
United School of Panama aims to become an Apple Distinguished School and foster a culture of continuous innovation for our students, our team and our community.
Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology. Apple Distinguished School leaders, teachers and the extended community have a clear vision for how their technology-rich environments support learning goals.
School leaders have established elements for continuous innovation that include culture, team, capacity, community, finance, and measurement. Supporting their school’s vision is an ongoing process that requires thoughtful planning, practice, and improvement along the way. They use iPad and Mac products to inspire student creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. And they cultivate environments in which students are excited and curious about learning.
The Apple Distinguished School program supports forward-thinking education leaders and their communities who are using Apple technology to make positive change in their schools. They take an innovative approach towards learning and teaching. They are highly motivated thought leaders who see what’s possible for the future of education and are invested in achieving the vision.
Looking Forward – International Baccalaureate
USP is aiming to obtain the IB Certification. The International Baccalaureate® (IB) programs aim to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. (IB) programs strive to develop students who will build a better world through intercultural understanding and respect.
- Encourage students of all ages to think critically and challenge assumptions.
- Develop independently of government and national systems, incorporating quality practice from research and from the global community of schools.
- Encourage students of all ages to consider both local and global contexts.
- Develop multilingual students.
In order to teach IB programs, schools must be authorized. “Every school authorized to offer IB programs is known as an IB World School.·”
USP’s English Language Arts Program will provide our students’ academic language, literacy and content with a global perspective. Each classroom will be filled with vocabulary, phonics, writing, and conversations that will help our students develop critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills needed to succeed throughout their scholastic and professional life. Our main goal is to empower our multicultural community to reach their highest potential as they develop their cognitive skills.
Reach Higher by National Geographic is a resourceful tool that will be used in our Language Arts Program in combination with an online platform that offers designed, content-created, project-based curricula that encompass the USP philosophy of play, learn, make, and connect.
National Geographic Learning brings the world to very young learners programs use songs, games, stories and real-world content to introduce the English language to students and support early language acquisition. Through real-world content about people and places from around the world, students begin to understand the rich diversity of our planet- an important first step to becoming global citizens.
Math requires abstract and concrete thinking, which leads to the development of the brain’s muscles. Mathematics enhances your analytical and problem-solving skills, creates the basis for systemic thinking, improves the skills required to arrive at logical conclusions, and expands the mind to handle unfamiliar tasks with ease and confidence.
i-Ready math is a US based program that provides instruction and support with differentiated instruction for all ages to help support them on their individual paths to success. i-Ready math curriculum emphasizes the use of concrete, real life examples that are meaningful and memorable as an introduction to key mathematical concepts.
i-Ready offers state of the art diagnostic systems for teachers to understand where their students starting points will be. The online platform is able to gauge and pinpoint what students currently understand, areas for improvement, and how to get students the support they need regardless of level or grade.
Mandarin is one of the hardest languages to learn because it involves the left hemisphere to recognize and decode in a way that cannot be compared to languages that contain an alphabet. Our Mandarin course will gear students today for the future that lays ahead with knowledge and the know-how in handling the mechanics of both written and spoken language.
We ensure the process of learning Mandarin is enjoyable – a typical lesson is very interactive, packed with fun activities such as singing songs, games, reading, reciting and performing poems. Our lessons gear students to practice their speaking and listening skills with a strong emphasis in pronunciation.
USP’s Mandarin Program is structured in these phases:
Classes will explore the fundamentals of the written language, thus gradually building our student’s ability in reading and writing Chinese characters as they progress through the curriculum. Exploring aspects of Chinese culture is an integral part of the learning and where possible, references to Chinese culture, history and geography are incorporated into the language exercises.
USP follows the Panamanian Ministry of Education standards to deliver the Spanish curriculum, focusing on character building in linguistic, verbal logic, reasoning, visual, and intrapersonal intelligences. Using a wide variety of diverse tools, texts, and access to online platforms to assist students in their knowledge building and understanding.
The Spanish Elementary program focuses mainly on grammar principles, writing, reading and vocabulary acquisition. In the lower grades, these are intuitively grasped through stories, songs, games and activities.
As students’ progress, there is a strong emphasis on a wide range of grammar patterns and a higher level of complexity in vocabulary, speaking, writing and reading comprehension.
The Social Science Program will strive to nurture and embrace our student’s curiosity with routines of fun and engaging lessons that gear them to understand their place in society and the role they will play in the ever-evolving world stage. Culture, customs, language and food play make up a large part of our understanding and bring a new breadth as to how others live their lives in different parts of the world.
Our program will focus on traditions and cultures around the world, making an emphasis in Panamanian culture: customs, dance, music, food. It is important that while growing up in Panama, our student population understand its rich history and how Panama came to be the country we all know and love. It is also important that as global citizens we are well versed as to the everyday changes in the world, respectful and knowledgeable about customs that have been passed from generation to generation and how these differences shape our world view.
Social Studies will focus on facilitating meaningful information and teach our students how to learn by doing. We will develop their soft skills and emotional learning that will impact their literacy skills. Some of the topics will be: families, community, transportation, goods and services, weather, maps, citizenship, bodies of water and life in society.
In our later elementary grades, we will shift focus to challenge and increase the level of comprehension skills of our readers and writers. We will strengthen their language skills with hands on activities that will scaffold through application, reflection, and understanding. Some of the topics will be: helping, working together, matter, culture and traditions, natural resources, exploration and preserving our heritage.
USP offers a comprehensive P.E. program based on proven methodologies and scientific research in neural science, health, and movement. It has been designed to improve learning, health, fitness and to build student’s character and values. Our program covers the domains of personal, social, health, and physical education in a complete continuum across school life, within the academic curriculum, and in the school culture. It is a cross curricular and transdisciplinary P.E. program.
Our Physical Education Program is designed to support academic performance, improve health and promote school culture, spirit, and values. It is a broad, general, inclusive, and balanced curriculum.
In the lower grades, students will develop fundamental movement skills, become increasingly competent and confident, and access a broad range of opportunities to extend their agility, balance, and coordination, individually and with others. Students will be taught to: master basic movements including running, jumping, throwing, and catching. Activities will focus on developing their gross motor skills.
As they progress, students will continue to apply and develop a broader range of skills, learning how to use them in different ways. Students will use running, jumping, throwing, and catching in isolation and in combination, learn the basics of competitive games, modify where appropriate (i.e., mini soccer and mini-basketball), and apply basic principles suitable for attacking and defending. They will develop flexibility, strength, technique, control, and balance through athletics and gymnastics.
At USP, science is an integral part of our curriculum that will provide our students with outside-the-box thinking and an approach to problem-solving.
National Geographic Exploring Science covers 100% of the Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS) for grades K-5 to ensure students are mastering the performance expectation. Now with improved 3-dimensional lesson support, more hands-on activities for students, enhanced assessment opportunities, and our MindTap digital platform including interactivity to support 3D learning.
Real Science. Real World. Right Now.
National Geographic’s program also includes summative assessments that will be used to gauge the progress of our student’s comprehension and growth. Unit tests and rubrics are included to allow the opportunity for self-reflection in the world around them as it changes daily.
Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.
A few of the topics and activities that might be included in the computer science program throughout the curriculum are:
- Modeling and simulating real-world problems
- Creating and manipulating graphics
- E-Safety and digital citizenship
- Ethical and social issues in computing human-computer interaction
- Coding/Programming (including game design)
- Computing and data analysis (managing, processing, visualizing and interpreting data)
Code is part of the USP Computer Science Program. Code is an innovate computational program which focuses around seven big ideas at the core of computer science—creativity, abstraction, data, algorithms, programming, Internet and impact—that are fundamental to computer science, but applicable to analysis in many disciplines.
Beginning in elementary, our students will learn what programing means and how to code. This will help them to develop essential skills such as problem solving, logic and critical thinking. Through coding, students will learn that there’s often more than one way to solve a problem, and that simpler and more efficient solutions are often better. Learning to code encourages students to become creators, not just consumers, of the technology they use.
While learning to code at the elementary school level, students are encouraged to think critically and strategically to solve problems—often simple puzzles like getting an onscreen character to move around a maze. For younger children, visual blocks are often used to represent programming concepts and terminology, such as ‘procedures’, ‘loops’ and ‘conditional instructions.
Art is all around and it is important to teach children how to use and make materials from scratch so that they become self-reliant. Self-reliance is a characteristic that will be expressed in our art curricula because it teaches children that things do not always come out how we have planned or imagined- and that sometimes the best workmanship comes from the mistakes we make.
In Art class, students explore working in collaborative projects and individually. Painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and work with clay, fiber, and found materials are all part of the curriculum. An open studio approach encourages young artists to be creative and original. The curriculum is designed to build on art skills and experiences as students advance through the grades. Students are introduced to art history and learn to appreciate different art forms through viewing original works of art and the use of the technology. Art projects are often designed to complement the classroom curriculum.
How Art Enhances the Human Brain
Scientific evidence proves that art and its variety of mediums and interpretations enhances brain function. It has an impact on brain wave patterns and emotions, the nervous system, and actually raise serotonin levels. Researchers say that creative pursuits help to build connections in the brain to strengthen reserve, brain resilience, and prevents memory loss. In the creation of artwork, we improve fine motor skills through small and purposeful movements.
Art can change a person’s outlook and the way they experience the world.
Music is one of the most important tools that combines both logic and emotion for whole brain thinking. Music is what brings life, emotion, and memory together for long term achievements.
At USP our commitment is to inject excitement into each and every teachable moment, our student population will be challenged musically with composition, instruments, melody, pitch, emotion and memory.
Life Skills Habits
In preparation for the world, it is not enough to fill the future generation with academic knowledge only. A well rounded individual grows to be self sufficient and this is where United School of Panama is set apart from the rest. We believe that discipline is the best form of love and with that comes responsibility in not only teaching it- but living it.
Life skills are essential tools to ensure that our young ones will grow with the knowledge and ability to fend for themselves when on their own.
Home Economics is introduced during elementary from grades 1st through 5th. Our focus is the gear our students with the understanding in family structure and the roles that each person within the household carries. As children grow so should responsibility. Elementary students will be trained in how to take care of their households and its chores in order to keep a healthy living habitat. Our program includes: how to crack and fry an egg, sewing to create and repair, wash the dishes, fold clothes in an orderly fashion, put away items after use, how to set a table, etc. These activities are to help promote self-awareness and the environment that surrounds them. Students will be surprised at the ease and ability that each pupil has to control and enhance their surroundings for themselves and others. Care and responsibility come hand in hand in every household and it gives parents peace of mind.
Social Skills emphasizes the value in how to communicate effectively in a group or personal setting. Communicating effectively is the number one tool that affects relationships in all settings in life and it is a priority at USP to engage our students in learning skills that will bring happiness and success in their everyday lives.
At United School of Panama, we believe that our body, heart, and mind must work in harmony to develop well rounded human beings. Learning never stops, it goes beyond the classroom.
For this reason, we offer a variety of Extra-Curricular Activities starting at the beginning of the school year to help our students maintain a healthy lifestyle, find their passion, and develop their abilities.
Team sports and group activities help children foster camaraderie and develop lasting friendships from shared experiences. We also believe these activities promote diversity and inclusion which are core principles we embrace at USP.
We offer the following activities Monday – Thursday from 3:30 PM to 4:40 PM. After a day full of learning and activities students may go home and enjoy family time.
At USP we promote sports as a fundamental part of our student’s development and growth. We believe that exercise and mental health go hand in hand. We offer a variety of sports activities within our extra-curricular program. Our modern brand new facilities allow for adequate and open spaces to practice:
At USP we recognize the arts as essential components of a comprehensive education leading to the full development of the individual. Intro to Art Techniques includes a series of artistic activities that develop creativity, motor skills, and an aesthetic sense in our students. They have fun as they learn about:
– Arts & Crafts
– Break Dance
At USP we encourage our students to participate in activities outside the classroom, thus facilitating a way to make new friends, find new interests, and deepen their social and intellectual growth.
EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES SCHEDULE
SCHOOL YEAR 2023 - 2024
This schedule is developed only for the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year (August 28th to December 15th). Some changes are expected each semester, depending on the enrolled student groups.
For full policy please review USP’s Parent & Student Handbook.