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Primary Years Program

The IB Primary Years Program (PYP)

The Primary Years Program (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 12.  Informed by research, the PYP is transdisciplinary in nature allowing for concept development that applies across and beyond subject-specific areas.  It “focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both at school and beyond.” It emphasizes concept-based and inquiry-driven teaching and learning to nurture “independent learning skills, encouraging every student to take responsibility for their learning” (, What is the PYP?)

Each year, students examine six related transdisciplinary themes through six units of inquiry.   They include Who we areWhere we are in place and timeHow we express ourselvesHow the world worksHow we organize ourselves, and Sharing the planet.  These themes were chosen by IB because they tap into humans’ natural curiosities to make sense of one another and how the world works, and enable students to discover the interconnectedness between things (, "How the PYP Works").

Program of Inquiry (POI): A collaboratively-developed framework for inquiry, with the purpose of allowing students to explore six universal themes of knowledge, which forms the core of a school's published PYP written curriculum. The six transdisciplinary themes are 

  • Who We Are
  • Where We Are in Place and Time
  • How We Express Ourselves
  • How the World Works
  • How We Organize Ourselves
  • Sharing the Planet

Units of Inquiry: Transdisciplinary units that are structured around a conceptual "central idea,” that empower students to develop a lasting understanding of the knowledge contained under the PYP transdisciplinary themes, subject-area content, and local/state standards.

Exhibition: In the final year of the PYP, students carry out an extended, in-depth, project known as the PYP exhibition. Guided by a mentor (often a member of the community), students work collaboratively to design and conduct an in-depth inquiry into real life issues or problems. The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile and their understanding of the five essential elements of the PYP that they have developed over time.  It provides schools, students, parents, and the community with an opportunity to celebrate the transition of learners to the next phase of their education (

Additional Resources:

Five Essential Elements of the PYP: Knowledge, concepts, approaches to learning, IB learner profile, and action that foster the development of the whole child and form the PYP written curriculum.

Key Concepts: Big ideas or "frames of mind" that are universal, timeless, abstract and transferable.  The key concepts can be applied to all subject areas and serve as an umbrella to group sets of related concepts. There are seven PYP key concepts: form, function, connection, change, causation, perspective, and responsibility. 

Related Concepts: Concepts which are more specific to certain subject areas. These are central to curriculum development in both the PYP and the MYP. 

Approaches To Learning (ATL): Students develop skills that have relevance across the curriculum that help them “learn how to learn”. ATL skills can be learned and taught, improved with practice and developed incrementally. They provide a solid foundation for learning independently and with others. ATL skills help students prepare for, and demonstrate learning through meaningful assessment. They provide a common language that students and teachers can use to reflect on, and speak to, the process of learning. IB programs identify five ATL skill categories (thinking, social, communication, research, and self-management) that are expanded into developmentally appropriate skill clusters (“MYP: From Principles into Practice").

IB Learner Profile: A set of attributes, with universal value across cultures, that define an internationally-minded student.

Taking Action: "Students take action in response to their inquiries or motivation to make a positive difference, bring about positive change (Boix Mansilla, Jackson 2011) or further their learning. As an integral part of the learning process, action can be embarked upon at any point and can take many forms, depending on individual development, learning and experiences. Action can be short or long term, revisited or ongoing. It may be individual or collective, small or large scale and may take place at home, at school or in local or wider communities. Some actions may not always be visible or immediately impactful; they might appear in the form of impressions left on students, or small things that go unnoticed because they are part of the daily life of the learning community" (From "PYP: From Principles to Practice").