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Questions and Answers about IB, PYP and more!


How can I be involved or ask questions about the PYP?

By having a child enrolled in Birchwood, you already are involved in the PYP! To become more involved or ask questions, please contact our school’s PYP Coordinator, Cori Stothart at


What is the IB Program?

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation offering highly respected programs of international education that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Schools must be authorized by the IB organization to offer any of the programs.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

These programs offered at more than 4,000 schools worldwide, encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.


What is the Primary Years Program (PYP)?

The Primary Years Program (PYP) prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them. It focuses on the development of the whole child. The PYP is designed for students aged 3-12 years old.

At the core of the PYP is the Learner Profile. This is a group of ten attributes that all learners are aspiring to be. They include inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. Birchwood focuses on one attribute each month of the year.

Students in grades K-5 engage in six “units of inquiry” each year. Each unit of inquiry allows the students opportunities to ask questions, seek out answers and apply their thinking. These units are transdisciplinary, meaning that they are supported by the concepts, skills and knowledge from traditional subjects (eg. science, social studies), but are more conceptual in nature so that they transcend the confines of these subjects.


What is a “Program of Inquiry”?

The Program of Inquiry includes all 36 units of inquiry from K-5, organized under six transdisciplinary themes. We also include the four units of inquiry from our preschool. These themes provide the framework from which we develop our school’s Program of Inquiry. This process is a collaborative one that requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of the teachers. Birchwood is currently developing our Program of Inquiry, which is why you see some blanks spaces. We hope to have our Program of Inquiry completed by June 2017.


How can my child be involved in the PYP?

If your child is enrolled in Birchwood, he/she already is a part of the PYP! Birchwood Elementary is an IB authorized school.

Look on our Program of Inquiry page to see which unit your child is currently working on. The units of inquiry take 5-6 weeks and end with a summative assessment that allows the students to demonstrate their understanding of the big or “central idea”. The units are not completed in a set order, so feel free to ask your child’s teacher to find out what order the units will be taught and learned.


How can I support my child in the PYP?

Help make the Learner Profile a part of your child’s life by using the ten attributes at home. You could point out the attributes in movies, books, in the news or talk to your child about the Learner Profile attribute of the month at Birchwood.

You can also talk to your child about their current Unit of Inquiry. Point out real life examples that relate to the unit, read books from the library that link to the unit or just have family conversations about what your child is learning.