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Beyond the Classroom: Learning Outside Four Walls at ISB


At the International School of Beijing (ISB), we believe in the power of learning beyond the traditional classroom setting. Our expansive co-curricular programs play a pivotal role in shaping our students into well-rounded, curious, and globally-minded individuals. Explore the diverse range of learning opportunities outside the classroom available to our students and how these high-quality learning activities enrich their educational journey - and their lives. 

Expansive Co-Curricular Programs

ISB's approach to education encompasses a wide array of activities that complement the academic curriculum, emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded developmental experience for students. These programs, including athletics, performing arts, and various clubs including service initiatives, are integral parts of our educational philosophy, offering students a balanced blend of intellectual, creative, and physical development through high-quality learning activities.

ISB offers a vast range of after-school activities and learning opportunities designed to foster exploration and discovery. From robotics to music and from environmental clubs to unique collaborations like learning the art of Wushu with the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, these activities offer a safe and nurturing space for students to try new things, discover their passions, and cultivate diverse interests. These high-quality learning activities allow students to try different pursuits, helping them find those few things they are truly passionate about by the time they reach middle and high school. Having explored multiple activities and opportunities, our older students are informed and understand what they are passionate about, what drives them, what inspires their learning, and, once again, have a multitude of options to choose from to enhance their academic experience. 

“These are experiences our students take with them and carry with them for the rest of their lives,” says Simon Parker, Activities Director at ISB. “It all depends on what each student is interested in. This should be a place where our students can do things that they like and are into that are relatively low pressure. It should be fun.”

With dozens of opportunities for students to have learning opportunities outside the classroom, the only problem is finding the right ones!

Performing Arts at ISB

ISB offers a dynamic platform for students to express themselves creatively. Outside of the academic performing arts experience, various productions and performances help students gain confidence, poise, and a sense of achievement. These programs go beyond showcasing talent; they teach the value of hard work, discipline, and the magic of bringing a collective vision to life. With programs including musicals, dramas, choir, strings, band, and dance, ISB allows our students to express themselves creatively.

Students at ISB can choose from a wide range of performing arts options, including:

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ISB also offers students the opportunity to experience the behind-the-scenes aspect of performing arts by offering courses such as Stagecraft and Music Studio Production. 


Sports at ISB

Sports at ISB are an integral part of student life, offering more than 15 sports opportunities. Here, sports are not merely about physical health but about nurturing life skills. Participation in sports equips students with the ability to balance their academic responsibilities with their athletic pursuits, fostering time management skills and resilience. It’s about the thrill of competition, the camaraderie of being part of a team, and the personal growth that comes from both victories and defeats.

Here are some of the athletic opportunities available to students at ISB, both inside and beyond the classroom:

 Sports at ISB


Clubs and Service Groups at ISB

Beyond the realm of sports and arts, ISB is home to a vibrant array of clubs and over 14 service groups. These groups are not just about engaging in high-quality learning activities but also about making meaningful contributions to the community and developing strong leadership skills. Whether it’s through environmental initiatives, charity work, or cultural exchanges, our students learn the value of empathy, cooperation, and global citizenship through these learning opportunities outside the classroom. Clubs such as World Scholars Cup, Beijing Model United Nations (BEIMUN) and international math competitions provide further opportunities to engage with peers from around the world, demonstrate commitment and professionalism, and develop critical thinking skills.

Off-Campus Excursions and Learning Opportunities

ISB’s commitment to experiential learning and investing in high-quality learning activities extends beyond our campus. Through various off-campus activities and excursions, students gain invaluable real-world experiences. These activities offer a broader perspective of the world, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of different cultures and environments. 

The commitment to service and experiential learning at ISB enables students to engage with the community and the world in meaningful ways. Whether through service projects that connect classroom learning with real-world applications or through camps and trips that offer exploration and personal growth, ISB students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zones. These experiences allow students to form deeper connections with both peers and teachers, fostering a sense of community and shared learning that extends back into the classroom.

“The number one thing is you see students outside of the classroom, and then you form a rapport with them, and it carries over into the classroom,” says Wayne King, Services and Experiential Learning Coordinator at ISB. “Our off-campus experiences allow students to find things that they will not get in school and hopefully find their passion.”

By participating in off-campus experiences, students have the opportunity to explore passions and interests that may not be accessible within the traditional classroom setting. From environmental conservation projects in diverse locales to creative workshops and college visits, these programs offer a broad range of opportunities for personal growth and discovery.

At ISB, every student from early years through to graduation has the chance to participate in off-campus experiences, opening doors to new learning opportunities and fostering a sense of accomplishment and self-discovery. Through these diverse offerings, ISB ensures that every student can find an experience that resonates with them, enriching their educational journey and contributing to a lifelong love of learning.

“That’s our goal,” Wayne reflects. “They've challenged themselves, and they've made it, and they can see themselves that they thought it was tough, but they just got down and did it. I mean, what’s a PhD after you’ve cycled through Mongolia?”


Here’s a snapshot of some of the experiential learning opportunities students at ISB have participated in:

  • Service Projects at Qufu, Jining - Engaging with local schools in the birthplace of Confucius, providing students the chance to teach English and interact with local Chinese students.
  • Sand Watch in Shenzhen - A unique combination of environmental service, studying the shifting sand dunes, and learning to surf in the afternoons.
  • Assistance in Sichuan - Helping elderly residents in an area where younger populations have moved to cities. Students assist with harvesting crops like apples and Sichuan peppers.
  • Music Production - An experience focused on learning music production in ISB's first-rate facilities.
  • Ceramics Workshop - Offering students who don't take art the chance to delve into ceramics, an activity not typically taught in schools.
  • Fun with Food - Learning culinary skills by cooking and working in restaurants, preparing food for others.
  • College Visits - Organized trips to explore universities, starting with the Boston area and potentially expanding to the West Coast of the U.S. and Europe.
  • Sailing in the Yellow Sea - Spending a week sailing various vessels in an area known for its beauty and challenge.
  • Cycling in Mongolia - A demanding trip that combines physical activity with the exploration of stunning landscapes.
  • Hiking in Gansu or Dunhuang - An adventure in the Gobi Desert, staying in camps and experiencing the rugged terrain.
  • Local Beijing Trips - For students needing to stay within Beijing, offering a range of activities that still provide a break from the classroom.
  • Rainforest Service in Yunnan Province - A service opportunity in one of China's most biodiverse regions, combined with environmental conservation efforts.
  • Team Lab Visit - An interactive art and technology experience for younger students to explore creativity and innovation.
  • Natural History Museum Preview - Educational visits aimed at bringing science and history to life outside the classroom.


Learning Happens Outside our Four Walls

True learning at ISB isn’t confined to textbooks and classrooms. The experiences gained through our diverse co-curricular programs are crucial for the overall development of our students, preparing them not only academically but also socially and emotionally for future challenges.

Find Your Dragon Spirit at ISB

Explore learning opportunities outside of the four walls of a classroom at ISB. Join the ISB community and experience an education where learning happens at every opportunity.

ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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