About the PYP in the EY

The IB Model for PYP in the Early Years


All about Play:
Young students’ development is supported when hands-on learning is combined with student-initiated play. A careful consideration exists between student-initiated play and teacher-initiated experiences. Play provides benefits for cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development for students from all socio-economic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, and offers authentic opportunities for students to begin their exploration and development of the IB learner profile. Play is highly adaptive, involves choice, promotes agency, and provides rigorous opportunities to inquire into important concepts and personal interests. Through play, children actively construct meaning from their interactions with their physical and social worlds. These meanings, models, or ideas are revisited and revised in light of new experiences and further learning. In play, children construct, test, confirm or revise these ideas by themselves or with their peers, constantly adapting their personal models of how the world works. Teachers interact with students while observing, monitoring, and documenting their learning. During uninterrupted time for play, teachers initiate a range of intentional learning experiences, offering support and feedback when needed.

Teachers in the PYP early years support play through:

  • creating and maintaining engaging learning spaces
  • scheduling uninterrupted time for play in both indoor and outdoor spaces
  • noticing students’ emerging thinking processes, interests, and theories, and responding in ways that extend learning
  • monitoring and documenting students’ learning and development during play
  • offering appropriate scaffolded learning experiences for individual students and small groups.

All about relationships

Children’s first experience of a sense of belonging is at home with family, the foundations of which expand significantly when they enter school. Encouraging and nurturing positive relationships between home,
family and school provide a strong basis for learning, behavior, health, and well-being. Young children experience their world as an environment of relationships; these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004). The significance of relationships in the early years is a fundamental part of establishing important skills and dispositions that centre on trust, agency, and belonging. When the importance of relationships is reinforced, the foundations for an effective learning community are established.

Teachers support the development of relationships through:

  • regular conversations with parents and legal guardians
    acknowledging and respecting each student’s individuality
  • connecting with individual students throughout the day by having conversations, listening to and documenting their evolving questions, and acknowledging their efforts and achievements
  • recognizing opportunities for students to learn to self-regulate during play and offer support and feedback when needed
  •  planning uninterrupted time for play in engaging learning spaces.

All about Learning spaces

A fundamental part of effective education in the PYP early years is the creation of safe, stimulating, and inviting learning spaces that promote exploration, wonder, creativity, risk-taking, and learning through play.
These are spaces where opportunities for authentic learning experiences are of utmost importance, and where students are valued for their knowledge, strengths, and competencies as individuals and as part of a larger group. Students who are emotionally invested stay more engaged in their learning (Rushton, Juola-Rushton 2010). Deliberate attention is paid to the structure, purpose and function of these spaces as contexts that support play-based transdisciplinary learning, collaborative learning of knowledge, conceptual understandings and skills, and opportunities to take action.

Teachers create safe, stimulating, and inviting learning spaces by:

  • offering a range of open-ended materials
  • arranging and rearranging materials as invitations for learning
    creating areas for role play, block play, mark-making, expression through the arts, and so on
  • considering a range of choices and opportunities for group and individual play
  • involving students in the design and construction of play areas
  • creating displays that reflect the process of students’ learning.

All about symbolic exploration and expression

From an early age, language is the central operating system that generates and supports cognition. Learning language begins at birth and develops exponentially with experience. Teachers understand that becoming literate and numerate are evolving processes that bring students to more sophisticated understandings over time. Effective language and mathematics learning and teaching is based on students’ developing ability to listen to and speak with others and to understand and use symbols. The importance of expanding these skills by transferring learning and experiences to other contexts allows students to re-encounter their thinking, develop symbolic competency, explore new connections, and consolidate their understandings.

Language and mathematics teaching follow students’ learning pathways that are connected to personal interests and larger concepts. Young learners enter school with no pre-conceived distinctions between subjects; play brings life to transdisciplinary learning. Schools support the way young learners experience the world by providing them with ample time to play with their peers. For example, while playing together Learning in the early years with blocks, students acquire vocabulary, learn about volume and shape, and develop fine and gross motor skills. The development of understandings in language and mathematics are interwoven and intentionally explored through strategies such as:

• games
• rhymes, poems, stories
• play
• conversations
• mark-making, drawing
• problem-solving, reasoning
• counting, patterning and sequencing.
These interest-based and intentional experiences directly support and influence later formal learning in
language and mathematics

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For more information regarding the shared framework and learner profile please click here.