Seneca Academy has been an authorized IB/PYP school for 2 years now. We decided to align ourselves with the IB not only because it is a prestigious organization that is connected by a network of distinguished educators around the world, but because it provides us with support in offering research-proven, best-practices in education. With the PYP focus, we are ensuring that learning experiences are developmentally relevant and meaningful (i.e. students at each level are doing work that makes sense to them and is interesting), teaching is engaging and promotes inquiry (i.e. students are active learners and are taught and encouraged to ask significant questions), the curriculum provides opportunities for depth of learning as well as breadth (i.e. students have time to deeply explore concepts rather than merely “skimming the surface”), and learning is in a global context (i.e. students are learning about concepts and issues that are relevant around the world). While none of these characteristics is by itself unique in preschool and elementary schools, with the PYP all of these “best practices” are utilized together.
PYP hasn’t dramatically changed the milieu at Seneca Academy, where we have provided an engaging, nurturing and hands-on learning environment for students for 30 years (since our early days when we were The Circle School), it has enhanced our teaching practices. We find that our students are better able to exhibit their understanding of the concepts we teach and the connections between them. They are better communicators verbally, in writing, and with visual presentations. Perhaps most importantly, students are now better able to translate their knowledge into action, a primary tenet of the PYP. Isn’t that what we want our students to demonstrate after our lessons? Not just that they have knowledge, but that they know what to do with that knowledge? That is what an IB/PYP school such as Seneca Academy provides.