Overview of the Primary Years Programme
The Primary Years Programme (PYP) aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are committed to creating a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The programme encourages students around the world to become active and passionate lifelong learners who understand others and respect diversity.
The primary school section of Huijia provides full-time education to children aged 5 to 12 years.
The written syllabus of all subjects in the primary school is based on the National Curriculum Standards of China and follows the scope and sequence as indicated in the PYP curriculum framework. All learning content and key concepts are taught and assessed using the PYP pedagogy and evaluation criteria, which will enable students to master all the important skills and knowledge as well as to reach a deep-level understanding of important content so that they could meet educational development objectives for primary school students.
The IB Primary Years Programme breaks through the traditional learning mode where knowledge acquisition in different areas is broken down into different subjects, and utilizes a concept-led discipline setting to help children to integrate knowledge namely, Transdisciplinary Learning Method. By actively using inquiry-based group learning, students are able to study in real-world situations where they establish the connections with the real world known to them, stimulate their inner learning motivation, form their own questions, design their own inquiries, learn to collaborate, construct their own knowledge and eventually achieve deep-level understanding.
Our curriculum framework is guided by six transdisciplinary themes, which cover 6 subjects and address five essential elements. It is certainly necessary to help students to master the knowledge of each independent subject through inquiry-based learning, nevertheless what more important is that students learn to master skills in certain situations where they explore the learning materials related to them and learn beyond the boundaries between traditional disciplines. A true learning means that students should set up connections between various disciplines and to find ways to integrate them, so as to apply knowledge to practice and action.
Inquiry-based learning in a bilingual environment in Huijia is realized through the cooperation between Chinese and foreign class teachers, who prepare lessons together, integrate teaching methods and share resources. We emphasize the educational philosophy of bilingualism therefore each of the languages accounts for 50% of the total learning time and is taught by native speakers of the language. We strive to make English learning closely related to subject knowledge, project research and practical activities so that students can construct a ‘Deep Structure’ of English language during the learning process and continue to accumulate while being immersed in a process of high perception. Through this process, our students can develop a natural touch with English, gradually and automatically forming correct expressions.
The five essential elements in the IB/PYP curriculum: Knowledge, Key Concepts, Skills, Attitudes and Action.
Huijia School supports the mission of the International Baccalaureate Organization and the learning objectives of the PYP by using the textbooks approved for the compulsory education in China. All the knowledge in the textbooks is organized into unites which will be studied by using inquiry-based learning method.
Help students to generate interest in learning and enable them to learn actively
Closely related to students’ pre-existing knowledge, life experience as well as the learning environment created by teachers
Expanding the scope of students’ current knowledge and experience and enhance their ability and understanding.
Helps the students to understand the transdisciplinary feature of the topic, so as to enable them to find the commonalities between various human experiences.
Many important thoughts and ideas in this world could be grouped into sets of programmatic or key concepts, of which each one has important meaning that travels beyond the boundary of time, space and disciplines. By identifying relevant concepts in the domain of each subject and those ones beyond subject areas, the PYP adopts ‘concepts’ as an essential element that supports transdisciplinary learning mode, through which a framework is set up to support the exploration of meaningful and real learning and students are able to deepen their understanding of the concepts.
Form: What does it look like?
To understand that everything has its own form of existence and is observable, identifiable, descriptive and classifiable.
Function: How does it work?
To understand that everything has the reason and purpose of existence and that the role, the function and the way they act could all be studied.
Reason: Why is it like this?
To understand that nothing happens by accident, there must be cause and effect and every action will lead to a consequence.
Change: How does it change?
To understand that change is a process of transitioning from one form to another, which is ubiquitous and inevitable.
Connection： how is it connected to other things?
To understand that we live in a world composed of interactive systems in which the change happens to one element will affect others.
Opinion: What are the opinions?
To understand that knowledge is regulated by opinions and different opinions lead to different interpretations, understanding and conclusions on the same thing. Opinions could be either personal or belong to a group, a culture or a subject.
Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
To understand that people make decisions based on their own understandings and actions they take thereafter will lead to different results.
Reflection: How do we learn about it?
To understand that there are different cognitive styles and we must constantly reflect upon the conclusions we make, how we reason and the quality and credibility of the evidence we use.
The core principle and practice of the PYP projects is the exploration of deep-level understanding, however the emphasis on the understanding of concepts does not hinder the importance that we attach to the cultivation of skills. In other words, the development of skills and understanding should be complementary to each other. We consider that the study of skills is best placed in real situations where teachers provide students with real learning experience so as to support the development of their skills.
Knowledge Acquisition, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Integration, Evaluation and Dialectical Thinking
Bearing Responsibility, Respecting others, Cooperation, Resolving Conflicts, Making Collective Decisions and Playing Different Roles in the Group
Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, Watching, Demonstrating and Non-verbal Communication
Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Space Awareness, Organizational Arrangement, Time Control, Safe and Healthy Lifestyle, Code of Conduct and Making Sensible Choices
Forming Questions, Observing and Making Plans, Collecting and Recording Data, and Displaying Research Results
While recognizing the importance of knowledge, concepts and skills, we know that the elements above are not yet sufficient to create talents with international mindedness and we should also focus on developing students’ attitudes towards others, the environment and the learning. Right attitudes will contribute to the individual’s physical and mental health, as well as collective interests.
Appreciating the beauty and wonder of nature and humanity
Being dedicated to one’s own learning with perseverance, self-discipline and sense of responsibility
One should have confidence in his/her own abilities, be brave to take risks, actively apply knowledge to practice and make appropriate decisions and choices
Being collaborative, taking the leadership role or team member role as needed
Demonstrating creativity and imagination ability when considering solutions to problems
Maintaining curiosity towards the nature of learning, the world, humanity and culture
Understanding the perspectives and emotions of others so as to become a broad-minded person who can reflect upon others’ opinions
Possessing great passion towards learning and enjoying the learning process
Being able to think and act independently, making judgments based on reasonable arguments and defending one’s own judgments
Being honest, showing a thoughtful sense of justice
Respecting oneself, others and the surrounding world
Understanding the differences and diversity that exist in the world and responding positively to other’s needs.
One belief we should uphold when implementing the PYP projects is that education must be extended beyond intellectual education and should not only cultivate a sense of responsibility towards society, but also the well thought out and appropriate actions. One clear vision of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead students to take responsible actions, and such actions will extend learning and create more substantial social influence. Given the difference in students’ ages and abilities, the PYP projects strive to help all learners to make decision on what action to take and keep reflecting upon those actions until they are able to make change to themselves and the world at large.
· 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.
By classifying knowledge into the above themes, the IB/PYP allows children of different ages to explore different concepts in the themes, which on one hand ensures the breadth of the knowledge and on the other, helps children to conduct in-depth exploration into specific concepts.
1. Who we are
Goal：Inquiring into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Learning Process：Six units of inquiry are developed following the theme. Students from different age groups will progressively carry out exploration of ourselves as human beings, including the various parts of the human body, the coordination and synergy of various organs in our internal systems, the impact of a balanced lifestyle on the human body and different beliefs and values held by different people.
2. Where we are in place and time
Goal: Inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
Learning Process: Six units of inquiry such as Ancient Civilization and National Geography are developed following this theme. Through inquiry-based learning, students learn about the history of our ancestors, the regional history of where we live, the connection between the past and the present and the impact of ancient civilizations on modern life.
3. How we express ourselves
Goal：Inquiring into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
Learning Process: Six units of inquiry are developed following this theme such as Celebration and Tradition and Artistic Expression. Through exploring the expression forms of language and art, students learn to deliver their opinions, express their emotions and present their values in a richer form.
4. How the world works
Goal：Inquring into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
Learning Process: Six units of inquiry are developed following the theme such as Exploring Space and Energy. By exploring into the phenomena in nature and the material world, students are able to generate a better understanding of the mysteries of science and technology.
5. How we organize ourselves
Goal：Inquiring into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Learning Process: Six units of inquiry such as Government System, Community Organization and Market Operation are developed following this theme. By exploring various organizational structures in the world today and their operational patterns, students are able to learn about how humans maintain social order and tackle natural disasters through setting up organizations.
6. Sharing the planet
Goal：Inquirying into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
Learning Process: Six units of inquiry such as Biological Habitat, Earth Resources and Wealth Distribution are developed following this theme. By exploring the living environment of various creatures and renewable and non-renewable energy, students will be able to gain a deep understanding of the importance of protecting the environment and the planet. Furthermore, through the study of various extreme social phenomena, students will generate the sense of responsibility and obligation which they should bear living in this world.
The Six Subject Areas: Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Personal and Social Education, Physical Education and the Arts.
To provide support to the six transdisciplinary themes, the PYP identifies a body of significant knowledge for all students in all cultures in six subject areas, of which each one is of great value itself and provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to explore the transdisciplinary themes. During the learning process, teachers will help students to find out the connections between different subjects, so as to enable them to understand that knowledge, even if organized in different subjects, are interrelated and transdisciplinary.
Language is the most important tool for communication. It supports and strengthens our thoughts and understanding and runs through the learning process of all subjects, i.e., learners listen to others’ speeches and use the language to communicate, they learn knowledge related to the language and gradually deepen their understanding of language structures and functions, they study another subject using the language as a tool to listen, think, discuss and reflect upon information, ideas and issues. Language plays a vital role in shaping understanding in the way that it provides learners with the ability to learn and an intellectual framework to support conceptual development and critical thinking. The PYP does not simply treat language as a subject to study, instead the emphasis is on the language application in the studies of all the subjects, the exploration of transdisciplinary themes, as well as the connection with the wider community. There are four aspects included the language learning at the primary school level, namely Oral Language, Visual Language, Written Language and Reading and Writing.
Promotes the overall development of language skills
Teaches each of the language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) in isolation
Language is treated as a transdisciplinary element throughout the course
Language is treated as an independent subject
Foreign language teachers are considered as class teachers of the PYP
Foreign language teachers are considered as teachers for one single subject
Language learning is based on literary works
Language learning is based on the use of textbooks and workbook for skill training
Reading is for understanding
Reading for accuracy
The focus of reading and writing is on meaning
The focus of reading and writing is on accuracy
Collaboration and discussion are encouraged
Students are required to stay quiet and conduct independent study
Students write spontaneously
Student write to complete assignments
Writing is treated as a process
Writing is treated as a piece of work
Spelling learning strategy is tailored to each student
Teachers should ensure the accuracy of the spelling
Fosters the appreciation towards the rich content of language
Language learning is about grammar and syntax
Uses literary works as tool to understand and explore
The study of literary works focuses on learning vocabulary, grammar and syntax
Multimedia resources are utilized to facilitate reading and research
Only printed materials are available for reading and research
Language is used to solve problems or process information in a creative way
Language is used for mechanical memorization
A range of appropriate assessment methods such as learner’s profile, meeting, analysis on errors and writing samples and feedback log are adopted during the learning process
Standardized reading and writing assessments
The purpose of our mathematics study is to allow all students to enjoy the charm of mathematics. In the PYP learning process, mathematics is treated as carrier of research and exploration, which provides students with a universal language which they could use to perceive the surrounding world. We want our students to become skilled users of mathematical language and use it to think rather than simply treating it as formulas and concepts that require memorizing. Mathematics is a powerful mean to describe and analyze the world and has become an efficient tool to solve problems. Therefore we require our students to strive for a balanced development between mastery of knowledge and development of conceptual understanding within the following interrelated mathematical branches namely data processing, measurement, shape and space, patterns and functions and arithmetic operations.
Associates mathematical concepts with practice
Mathematical concepts are isolated.
Instructional strategies are applied to improve students’ understanding
Mechanical memorizing and practice
Mathematics is used to solve real life problems
Mathematics is only used to solve literal problems
Emphasizes the process of problem solving, allowing multiple ways to solve the one problem
Emphasizes the answer, only one correct answer or solution is allowed for each question
Students are encouraged to speculate and follow their intuition
Teacher is the only authority to provide the correct answer
Provides access to a wide range of propositions regardless of the students’ computing skills
Mastering computing skills before access to other propositions is necessary
Mathematics is used as a tool to achieve the ultimate goal
Mathematics learning is irrelevant to the learning of other subjects
Calculator or computer are used when appropriate
Emphasizes calculating using paper and pen
Learning Follows Inquiry Plans
Learning follows textbooks
Learning methods include research, questioning, discussion, verification and learning log
Both teachers and students are involved in the discussion of mathematical problems
Teachers conduct one-way communication
In the PYP, science is mainly about exploring the natural world from three aspects namely biology, chemistry and physics and the discussion of the relationship between these three aspects. Following the progress of human society, the way we perceive science is constantly evolving. Science in the PYP therefore will lead students to observe, appreciate and comprehend the world from a scientific perspective, so as to inspire their curiosity and creativity and enable them to achieve deep-level understanding of the world. Meanwhile, reflections on scientific knowledge also contribute to the development of sense of responsibility, which will constantly remind students that their behaviors will have impact on themselves, others and the world around them. As inquiry is the core element of scientific research and scientific understanding, by associating scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills, our students will actively develop their own understanding of the world and continuously challenge their existing understanding. As the validity and efficacy of scientific knowledge is always proven by application in practice, our students are encouraged to conduct experiments and research and to go through a scientific procedure before they generate sensible and responsible decisions. Furthermore, this type of decision-making procedure is not only limited in science, but also in many other areas of life.
Hands-on learning activities are carried out to ensure students experience and learn the skills in the scientific process. Students are required to be highly involved in activities in a flexible learning environment
Demonstration is done by teachers and students are required to strictly follow teachers’ instruction when participating in activities
Units of inquiry are also transdisciplinary research activities
Teachers (as facilitator) challenge students by requiring them to answer open-ended questions through research, and help them to correct/rectify their misunderstanding through observation, measurement and experimentation.
Isolated science class/ scientific inquiry units
Teachers are the only authority in the class room who can provide correct answers and information
Uncertainty and ambiguity in the answers are allowed and there might be more than one acceptable solutions/hypotheses to one question
Students are required to look for pre-determined answers
Detailed interpretation of the collected data is offered through discussion and dialogue and students are required to make explanation and conclusion
The purpose of activities is to collect and record data in writing
Students are challenged to put what they have learnt into practice
Learning is merely about acquiring scientific common sense and skills
Take every opportunity to encourage students to follow their scientific interests
Exploration of science is only limited in class
Courses are driven by concepts and various learning materials and operational approaches are widely used during the learning process
Courses are driven by textbooks and only limited range of textbooks are used
In the PYP, social studies are seen as a study of people, and is linked to the past, present and future of the human environment and society. Social studies inspires students’ curiosity and develops their understanding of the ever-changing world, including the understanding of their personal and cultural identities. Through the learning, students will gradually acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for their participation in the classes, schools, communities and the world and gain a better understanding of themselves in association with the community they are in. Social studies aims to promote students’ understanding of multiculturalism and encourages them to respect other individuals with different values and traditions. In support of the IBO mission statements, the PYP social studies encourages students to understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right and should be respected. Therefore social studies place particular emphasis on eliminating prejudice and discrimination in classrooms, schools, communities and the world.
Multiple teaching resources and perspectives that reflect multiple perspectives from different regions, societies, cultures and genders are adopted during the learning process
Relies on single resource or resources with narrow views that probably only exist within one country, one religion, one political stance or no longer valid in the current world
Units of inquiry are designed to promote transdisciplinary research
Units are based on single subject such as history, geography and sociology
A great variety of first-hand sociological literature and resources including social characters, man-made items, field trips, surveys and interviews are utilized in the learning process, meanwhile media and technology are also frequently used during the learning process
Textbooks and workbooks are the sole resources used in the learning process
Real information is used as the carrier of conceptual learning in the units of inquiry to help to deepen and expand students’ understanding of the world
The ultimate learning purpose is remembering real information such as dates of critical events, names of people or countries
Fosters students’ sense of responsibility towards the world today and their ability to take action
Responsibilities and actions that need to be taken in today’s world is explained by the teacher in class
Personal, social and physical education in the PYP aim to ensure students’ physical and mental health by promoting concepts, knowledge, attitudes and skills that benefit them both mentally and physically. It is believed that students’ physical and mental health is closely related to their experience inside and outside the school and encompasses students’ physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social development, which play a critical role in helping students to develop and maintain self-understanding, good interpersonal relationships and healthy lifestyle.
Teaching activities are guided by concepts and are carried out in a transdisciplinary manner within and outside the inquiry plans
Subjects and topics are isolated
Every teacher could conduct personal and social education
Only the class/homeroom teacher is responsible for conducting personal and social education
Students are encouraged to embrace different cultures, religions and social perspectives and appreciate diversity
Only emphasizes on certain culture, religion and social perspective
Recognition of Difference: Things that are appropriate for one person might not be appropriate for another
Assumes every person has the same feeling or answer towards one question
The focus of learning is to enable students to form, expand and deepen their understanding towards concepts and the world
Mastering skills, playing games and developing sports skills are considered as the ultimate goal of learning
PE teachers are considered as the PYP teachers
PE teachers are only considered as teachers of one single subject
Students are required to learn, practice and apply skills in a context of inquiry
Learning and practicing of the skills are run separately
Develop cooperative skills and team spirit
Learn sports skills
Students are taught in accordance with their aptitude, and everyone’s needs and capabilities will be addressed
Focus on activities suitable for students with higher skill levels
Evaluation and feedback are provided with the reference to learners’ development goals and the key attitudes address by the PYP
Evaluation and grades are offered based on students’s skill levels
As an indispensable part of the PYP, art is considered as a powerful communication model through which students explore and construct self-awareness and learn about the world around them. Art provides students with a wide range of opportunities and means to reflect upon their experience and engage with different historical, social and cultural perspectives. It motivates students to use new methods, including a variety of media and technologies to think and clarify their ideas. In the PYP, art serves as a medium for inquiry based learning and provides various opportunities for students to learn, communicate and express. Learning art and learning through art are crucial to the overall development of children, as they effectively develop children’s creativity, critical thinking abilities, problem-solving skills and socializing skills.
Teachers make preparation for lessons collaboratively and have communicate regularly with class teachers and other subject teachers
Teachers make their own teaching plans
Art teachers are considered as the PYP teachers
Art teachers are only considered as teachers of a single subject
Students study, observe and perform in different places in the school and community
Students always stay in art classroom
Art is a way of making inquiry
Art only provides support for other subjects in the primary school study
Artistic topics are led by the questions raised by students and individual creativity is highly valued and encouraged
Artistic topics are led by teachers
Students are able to gain in-depth understanding of the concepts behind artistic experience
Students are able to follow artistic norms in a relatively superficial way
Students’ understanding is regularly assessed at each stage of the creative process, their final work will also be evaluated
Only the final work or performance is assessed
The unique curriculum of the primary school section of Huijia respects the laws of child development and encourages children to constantly challenge themselves and explore through participating in various activities. Our programmes provide children with the opportunities to practice, innovate, and develop their thinking ability, creativity and collaborative spirit which they need as lifelong learners while ensuring the mastery of knowledge. We firmly believe that successful learning derives from the mutual respect and trust between teachers and students, as well as the joy they share when exploring in learning. The PYP allows children to develop their understanding of the world in a unique way and at their own pace, so as to prepare themselves for the learning at next stage.
In order to provide students with the most authentic experience of learning and different cultures from an early age, the primary school section takes overseas study programs as part of its curriculum, through which children are able to improve their English language skills, generate international mindedness and enhance their ability to conduct intercultural communication.
Overseas Study Program
Length of Time
Huijia students will study together with students in HWA International School to experience local customs and diverse cultures.
The U.S. Program
The American Center of Huijia located in Glendale, Los Angeles, California was founded in 1995 and is mainly responsible for selecting students from 6th grade of Huijia to study in local schools in the States for a certain period of time.
The ten-week program in Australia focuses on experiencing a diverse English learning model, in which English learning could be conducted in the classroom as well as campsite, museum, zoo, library and outdoor sports venue.