IB PYP Early Years

In the IB PYP Early Years (ages 3-5), students explore and play in a transdisciplinary model. Through a play-based approach to learning it is possible for language skills, motor skills, social skills, and academic skills to develop. Teachers organize a play-based learning environment that provides many opportunities for meaningful and engaging play. Simultaneously, the Approaches to Learning skills are informally developed; Thinking, Communication, Social, Self Management and Research skills. The needs of all students are catered for and more formal elements of schooling, such as letter formation, letter recognition, and the formative stages of Language and Mathematics are introduced when students demonstrate understanding or a readiness to learn more. Students will also develop their personal knowledge and understanding of the essential elements of the PYP, deepen their understanding of international-mindedness and develop the attributes of The IB Learner Profile. 


Students in a PYP classroom take ownership of their learning by wondering, exploring, learning, sharing, reflecting, and taking actions in and beyond the school community. An inquiry-based unit of study, known as Units of Inquiry, incorporates all essential elements of PYP under the six transdisciplinary themes. In order to meet the various needs and interests of students, units of inquiry make the learning engaging, relevant to their life, challenging, and significant in a transdisciplinary model, which is globally significant and beyond the structured disciplinary subject areas throughout The Primary Years.

Curriculum Framework

The aim of PYP is to provide learners with an inquiry-based curriculum framework which incorporates five essential elements (Knowledge, Concepts, Approaches to Learning, Attitudes, and Action).

Knowledge: What do we want students to know about?

The importance of traditional subject areas is acknowledged: Language; Mathematics; Social Studies; Science; Personal, Social and Physical Education; and the Arts. However, it is also acknowledged that educating students is more holistic.

The PYP has six transdisciplinary themes that provide the framework for learning. These themes are globally significant and support the acquisition of knowledge, concepts, and skills of the traditional subjects. They are revisited throughout the students’ time in the PYP.

An inquiry 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.

An 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.

An inquiry 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.

An inquiry 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.

An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact of humankind and the environment.

An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

Perceptual Motor Programme (PMP) in the IB PYP Early Years

The PMP programme in the IB PYP Early Years aims to develop children’s motor skills that are foundation skills for many activities in the classroom. Many children arrive at school with some of these skills not practiced due mainly to their sedentary lifestyle. The PMP programme aims to practice these skills in a fun, holistic, and organized way.

“A Perceptual Motor Programme aims to teach a child perceptions and understandings of him/herself and his/her world through movement/motor experiences.” (Bullus & Coles Perceptual Motor Programmes – A Manual for Teachers).

  • is a holistic Movement / Language based development programme.
  • helps children with motor coordination, cognitive development, self-esteem, social skills, and the ability to cope better in the classroom.
  • helps teachers recognize children’s needs in relation to hand-eye, balance, locomotion, and fitness.
  • helps to grow children’s short-term auditory sequential memory (STASM).
  • gives children strategies for problem-solving.
  • contains sequenced, fun activities.
  • is preventative rather than curative.
  • covers many strands of the junior PE / Health Curriculum.

What is a Perceptual Judgement?

In everything we do, we use our senses and experiences to make perceptual judgments. These judgments are individual and based on what we personally experience. It is these perceptual judgments that dictate the way we react to our experiences.

ELC students are playing water game
Racing in tunnels on Sports Days

When perceptions about myself, my body, and my world are well developed, consequential reactions are more likely to be appropriate for each given situation. The greater the store of experiences the better developed are the perceptions and motor reactions. The more automatic reactions that are stored, the more able the brain is free to consider other things. This makes learning in the school situation much easier for children.

A Perceptual Motor Programme in the IB PYP Early Years aims to give the child experiences by seeing, hearing, touching and making perceptual judgments, and reacting through carefully sequenced activities that children enjoy doing. These include running, hopping, skipping, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, throwing, catching, bowling, spinning sliding, etc, using a variety of common and specially designed equipment.

PSPE Lesson with Preschool in outside

The perceptions a child should gain can be grouped as:

  • Perception of self (body image, laterality) if problems of reversals, sidedness, etc are to be avoided in the classroom.
  • A perception of space, if problems with handwriting and poor use of time are to be avoided.
  • A perception of time (body rhythm) if the child is to be able to remember things rhythmically and move efficiently in his/her world.

The child needs the motor skills of balance, locomotion, fitness, and eye-hand coordination to function effectively. Children with common problems of inattention, daydreaming, wandering, laziness, clumsiness, disruptive behavior, etc are often children who have a poorly developed “perceptual world”. These are the children who become frustrated with school and optimal learning is not achieved.

A true Perceptual Motor Programme aims to be preventative rather than curative by diagnosing these problems and working in a variety of ways to overcome them so that the child experiences success in the learning process. It also develops good social skills and self-esteem.

A good Perceptual Motor Programme has children working through a sequence of experiences to develop perception and motor outcomes along with memory training. Confidence grows, problems are solved, language skills develop, and the fundamental sports skills are learned which will enable the child to move competently into major games and sports activities. Children become self-assured people, willing to take risks in their learning, knowing their place in the world, and aware of the contributions they can make in the world.