Exploring the Difference Between IB® School and Regular School

Class room with benches and board

As a parent, do you often find yourselves at a crossroads trying to determine the best academic path for your child? From private to public schools, your chosen institution will have a lasting effect on your child’s development and future. 

Beyond the typical private school, modern parents have been deciding whether to enroll their child in an International Baccalaureate (IB®) primary school instead of a traditional school. But what’s the difference?

IB® Schools

International Baccalaureate (IB®) schools revolve around a New Age way of teaching. These schools naturally employ the IB® curriculum, which isn’t solely focused on good grades as a performance metric. It’s about developing the whole child, becoming curious learners for life. The IB® philosophy strongly cares about academics and just as much about critical thinking, global interconnectedness, and making a societal impact.

Virginia Beach private schools like Strelitz International Academy use the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to build the foundation for learning. Instead of solely memorizing information, this program encourages kids to ask meaningful questions and explore the world around them. They learn that all subjects are an intricate web of information, genuinely digesting how academic lessons relate to the real world.

Conventional Schools

Let’s talk about “regular schools”—the kind most of us grew up with. They take a more traditional approach to teaching. These schools usually follow the curriculum set by their local education sectors, and their main focus is on core subjects like Math, Science, History, and English. While regular schools definitely give a solid academic start, they might not put as much emphasis on growing in outside-the-box ways or understanding the world globally as IB® schools do.

The Differences Between the Two

1. How They Teach

IB® schools want students to be curious and ask questions. They let kids explore topics that interest them and realize their interconnected nature. Regular schools usually stick to a set curriculum decided by local education boards.

2. Seeing the World

IB® elementary schools near Norfolk, VA, want students to think about the whole world. They teach about different cultures and ideas to help students become open-minded and empathetic leaders. Regular schools might not spend as much time on this global perspective—a trait that should be more important than ever.

3. How You Learn

IB® schools focus on teaching you how to think critically and solve problems independently. Regular schools might spend more time making you memorize facts and taking standardized tests. The information may not “stick” when students are expected to score well.

4. Complete Growth

IB® schools encourage growth in every single aspect. They care about your emotions, how you get along with others, and your values—all the essential interworkings of a person. Without the in-depth, transdisciplinary curricula of the IB®, regular schools are more surface-level; they mainly focus on academic performance.

5. Subjects and Connections

In IB® schools, different subjects come together like puzzle pieces. You see how science can connect with history, for example. In regular schools, topics are often taught separately.

Learn with Strelitz International Baccalaureate Academy

The IB® PYP framework extends its influence outside the classroom setting. As students embrace their roles as inquirers, our budding scholars understand that what they learn in the classroom mirrors the world. With strong support and dedication from the broader community, our students cultivate their passions and talents, nurturing a strong self-assurance as they explore their role in the global landscape. 

To see why Strelitz is one of the best private elementary schools near Chesapeake,mail us csimon@strelitzacademy.org or call us at 757-424-4327  to schedule your tour.

 

International Baccalaureate Program: The Impact on Early Literacy and Numeracy Skills

International Baccalaureate Program: The Impact on Early Literacy and Numeracy Skills

We’ve already covered the International Baccalaureate (IB®) program’s profound (and beneficial) effects on preschoolers and kindergartners, but what about some more specifics? 

It’s a given that such a renowned educational framework that focuses on holistic learning and interconnectedness will nurture and enhance childhood development. In the Primary Years Program (PYP), a core principle of childhood development is early literacy and numeracy skills, crucial to developing foundational skills that aid academic success. 

Early Literacy Skills in the IB® PYP

The IB® PYP strongly emphasizes the manifestation of early literacy skills through a range of inquiry-based activities—such as meaningful and contextual language, communication, and literacy study areas. Let’s break down some of the ways the IB® program promotes early literacy development:

1. Language-Rich Environment

A stimulating classroom environment is critical in fostering advanced communication skills. IB® elementary schools incorporate classrooms with an abundance of books, charts, and print materials to expose students to the language and encourage vocabulary development, reading engagement, and a love for reading.

2. Transdisciplinary Learning

The PYP curriculum integrates different disciplines to help students form connections between literacy and other subject areas. For example, a science lesson could use comprehensive reading skills to understand informational texts, write lab reports, and engage in class discussions. These activities reinforce literacy skills within the chosen subject matter, in this case, for instance, science.

3. Inquiry-Based Approach

IB® encourages students to ask difficult questions, think critically, and actively participate in their learning journey. Through inquiry-based learning, students learn to investigate the details to form meaningful conclusions and develop advanced problem-solving abilities and the ability to pull information from different sources.

4. Reading and Writing Workshop

Participating in reading and writing workshops engages students to become independent and collaborative readers and writers. They serve as an opportunity for students to practice reading comprehension, fine-tune their writing skills, and receive meaningful feedback and critiques from teachers and students.

5. Literacy Across Languages

Multilingualism and cultural awareness are major components in the IB® PYP world, promoting literacy across multiple languages. Helping students recognize diverse linguistic backgrounds creates an empathetic environment, fosters language development, and develops cultural interest.

Numeracy Skills in the IB® PYP

But what about numeracy skills? In the IB® PYP, numeracy and literacy are two sides of the same coin. Mathematics is carefully integrated throughout the curriculum, where students can experience practical mathematical situations. Some of these IB® program methods include:

1. Conceptual Understanding

Anyone can memorize something, but not everyone can fully absorb and understand that information. The IB® program recognizes that and emphasizes conceptual learning through reasoning, number sense, computation, estimation, and real-world applications. For example, using a cake or a pizza can be used to teach fractions in a pie-chart format—using the slices to represent the “pieces” (fractions) of the whole “pie” (number).

2. Mathematical Language and Communication

The IB® math curriculum is a spiraling program that teaches fundamental concepts using manipulatives and hands-on activities. All students are given opportunities to think for themselves and work independently, with partners, in small and large groups. Participating in these formats helps develop confidence in their ability to investigate their choice in a safe environment and heightens clear communication.

3. Mathematizing the World

Mathematics is not confined to textbooks—it’s present in the world around us. Going off of #1 with conceptual understanding, IB® students are encouraged to identify and apply mathematical concepts in everyday situations. Actively making connections to real-world problems fosters a deeper understanding of how math relates to their lives.

4. Diverse Instruction

Teaching one specific method is not beneficial to every child’s academic success. The IB® PYP acknowledges that every student is different and therefore has different learning styles and needs. To give all students a fulfilling experience, IB® teachers employ various strategies, resources, and manipulatives to cater to different learning styles like visual, physical, auditory, verbal, logical/mathematical, social, and solitary areas, as well as make combinations between them. This fusion of learning styles helps students absorb numeracy skills faster and in a more appealing, inclusive way.

5. Tool Proficiency

IB® elementary school students study measurement, data interpretation, and pattern recognition by taking advantage of different tools, techniques, and resources. Calculators and computers are leveraged to learn numeracy efficiently and effectively. Repeated exposure to numeracy concepts and skills is essential for reinforcement and ultimate mastery.

The Benefits of the IB® Program on Early Literacy and Numeracy Skills

The Benefits of the IB® Program on Early Literacy and Numeracy Skills

When discussing the valuable benefits of the IB® program in schools, we name high-level goals like international mindedness, high academic standards, holistic education, university recognition, career preparation, and personal development. 

But by cultivating literacy and numeracy skills, the IB® program helps children lay a solid foundation for a brighter academic future. Students walk out of the classroom with not only enhanced cognitive skills but also social, emotional, and physical excellence. The all-rounded, holistic approach helps students find their unique skills and attributes and foster an overall love for learning.

With the ability to absorb literacy and numeracy lessons in a more quick and fulfilling way, IB® students become lifelong learners. Instilling curiosity and passion for literacy and numeracy equips students for a long academic road ahead, gaining transferable skills that extend beyond the two subjects.

The Strelitz Primary Years Program

The Strelitz International Academy holds a shared initiative: a strong reading program is essential in building an everlasting educational foundation. 

Our kindergarten and first-grade students participate in the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program®– (LiPS®)*. LiPS®* provides students with the necessary literacy skills for decoding, spelling, letter blends, and digraphs to help build a conceptual understanding of the whole language that will follow them into adulthood. As they continue to decipher and add new vocabulary to their reading repertoire, students practice phonemic awareness, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and language development, preparing them to read literature with endless creativity and clarity.

Likewise, our IB® elementary school not only concentrates on competency in numeracy but also stresses problem-solving. Our programs demonstrate all of the IB® numeracy strategies in this blog and more to create a well-rounded, culturally enriched child.

Interested in a Primary Years or Early Years Program in Virginia Beach? Schedule a visit with one of the best private elementary schools today.

The Pasta-Bilities are Endless in Kindergarten!

The Pasta Bilities are Endless in Kindergarten!

By Ally St. Pierre, Admissions and Marketing Manager

Setting goals and acquiring new skills is the heart of Kindergarten at Strelitz International Academy, the best kindergarten school in Virginia Beach. This year each student in Mrs. Baker’s Kindergarten class set a goal they sought to accomplish with the help of their class community. These goals included baking a Barbie cake, making and launching rockets, and even doing bike tricks on a ramp. Each student reflected on the process of completing their goals, including how and what they needed to get from start to finish. On Friday, May 5th, 2023, students in Mrs. Baker’s kindergarten class helped their classmate Meirav accomplish her goal of making homemade tortellini.

Step One: Roll the Dough

Step One Roll the Dough for Pasta Bilities

The students started by rolling dough. They observed that the ball of dough looked like a lemon at first. Each student took turns rolling the dough. They then stated what they thought the rolled dough resembled. “It looks like a stretchy lemon!” one student exclaimed. Another added, “It looks like a small pizza!” The pizza observation left students wondering, “What if you put tortellini on pizza?” The students were reflecting and thinking about what that might taste like. 

Step Two: Cut the Dough

Cut the Dough for Pasta BilitiesStep Two Cut the Dough for Pasta Bilities

The next step was to cut the dough. The students used cups to make circle-shaped tortellini and knives to make square ones. This required students to activate their prior knowledge of shapes. “It looks like a moon!” a student suggested while pushing the round cup into the dough. Once finished, Mrs. Baker gave each student a fork with ricotta cheese. One student disliked cheese and hesitated to try it on his pasta. Mrs. Baker challenged him to be a risk taker, an important value in the IB® approach. The student demonstrated risk-taking by using cheese in his tortellini. 

Step Three: Check the Cheese

Check the Cheese in Pasta BilitiesStep Three Check the Cheese in Pasta-Bilities

The students even related the activity to their Judaic studies. Mrs. Baker explained that when she went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, she verified everything was kosher. Mrs. Baker explained that the ricotta cheese she purchased had the letter U in a circle, meaning it was kosher. Additionally, Mrs. Baker told her students that she could not buy the parmesan cheese, as she learned there was a meat product mixed with the cheese, and eating meat and dairy together is not kosher. 

Step Four: Eat!

Eat Pasta BilitiesStep Four Eat Pasta Bilities

After working hard, it was finally time to eat the homemade tortellini. The students were so proud of what they had made. The best part was that all the students collaborated to help Meirav accomplish her goal! It was tortelly awesome!

The Strelitz International Academy is the community’s Jewish Day School and International Baccalaureate® World School for infants through grade 5. For more information on the best kindergarten school, contact Ally St. Pierre, Admissions and Marketing Manager, at 757-424-4327, ext. 4188, or astpierre@strelitzacademy.org.

5 Wonderful Reading Suggestions for Preschoolers in 2023

Wonderful Reading Suggestions for Preschoolers

On a scale of one to ten, how much does your child love books? Whether your preschooler is a bookworm or not, studies show reading to children as young as nine months can accelerate childhood development. Finding a book that introduces pre-reading skills like numbers and sounds is one of the best ways to ease children into formal reading instruction.  

From The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Goodnight Moon, there are a few staples we read to children time and time again. Seeking something new and enriching for every kind of reading taste? At Strelitz Academy, one of Virginia’s top IB PYP schools in Norfolk, we list the five best reading suggestions that stimulate learning and growth in 2023. Let’s take a look!

Before We Dive In, Here Are A Few Things To Consider

Choosing the perfect book for your child depends on multiple factors. If your book checks off the following boxes, it’s golden:

  • Is the book engaging? Great characters and a fun, cohesive storyline pique a child’s interest.
  • Does it appeal to my child’s attention span? To attract a child’s attention, it must be child-friendly. Short dialogue and simple word choice help your preschooler travel from cover to cover.
  • Does it match my child’s interests? For example, your basketball-loving child isn’t going to enjoy a book on ballerinas. Choose something you think they will enjoy!

Best New Books for Preschoolers

This year’s top reading selection is more educative and engaging than ever, from catchy rhymes to tall tales.

“Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes,” By James Dean and Eric Litwin

“Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes” is a popular book about a cat walking down the street wearing brand-new white shoes. His shoes change from white to all kinds of funky colors and feelings as he steps in different messes along the way. Despite it all, his attitude remains positive while he sings his tune. This singsong story is an excellent way to teach children ages 3 to 7 to experience change with a positive mindset.  

“My First Book of Planets: All About the Solar System for Kids,” By Bruce Betts, PhD

Want to show your child the wonders of astronomy? This is the perfect book for introducing preschoolers to the solar system. Ages 3-5 learn science-driven facts about the eight planets and their size, distance from the sun, surface conditions, moons, and more! The author has a Ph.D. in planetary science but can write in a fun and understandable way for kids.

“Big Preschool,” By School Zone

Looking for practice problems your child can take on during the summer? This workbook contains 320 pages of pre-writing skills, alphabet, colors, shapes, following directions, numbers and early math, and more. This book combines reading comprehension, strategy, and memory retention with easy to advanced concepts, fun illustrations, and an award certificate upon completion. Motivate your preschooler to complete these practice problems during their free time to advance their knowledge and prepare them for school.

“How To Catch A Unicorn,” By Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

Brought to you by the New York Times Bestselling team, this picture book combines elusive imagery, STEAM concepts, stimulating puzzles, and fun rhymes to delight children, parents, and educators alike. Start your child’s mornings or end the day with this colorful and upbeat book that allows them to use their brains to solve complex, kid-friendly problems. The pages are filled with all kinds of different animals that your child can point at and admire.

“P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever,” By Raj Halder, Chris Carpenter, and Maria Beddia

Don’t judge a book by its cover—this New York Times bestseller teaches the complicated subject of phonetics to children ages 3 to 10. This book brings preschoolers through a “raucous trip through the odd corners of the alphabet” by introducing words with silent letters like “aisle” and “gnat.” This whimsical book demonstrates a comedic take on the English alphabet by listing these more complex words and their pronunciations.

Ready To Kickstart Your Preschooler’s Reading Adventure?

Strelitz International Academy (SIA) is one of Virginia’s best affordable private schools in Chesapeake— setting up children from infant to primary with the education to succeed. With our Early Years Program, children ages 2 to 4 walk through various global, transdisciplinary themes as part of our IB World School curriculum. Our 10 to 12-month comprehensive program explores early reading practices and other learning modalities, development areas, language arts skills, Judaic education, and more.

To learn more about how Strelitz International Academy can help your child grow and excel intellectually, please get in touch with Carin Simon, Admissions Director, at 757 424-4327.

Importance of Enrichment and After School Activities

Importance of Enrichment and After school Activities

When your child is done with the school day, you don’t want them to just plop in front of the TV or play video games for hours on end. Your child will benefit greatly from enriching programs that keep minds engaged and foster fitness.

At Strelitz International Academy, we share this philosophy. We believe that young children need enrichment and after-school activities that keep them active in healthy ways. After all, healthy students are better learners.

By providing physical activity opportunities for our students during and after school, as well as offering enrichment activities in music, art, and more, we feel we are addressing the whole child and helping each student become a well-rounded, confident, and empowered individual.

Benefits of After-School Activities

Every parent wants their children to not only do well at school, but also discover interests that feed their mental, physical, social, spiritual, and emotional sides. Educators at Strelitz want the same, and this is why we offer a range of enrichment and after-school activities kids enjoy so much they don’t even realize they’re learning.

The benefits of young students participating in age-appropriate, inclusive after-school activities are many. They include:

  • Better attention span in the classroom
  • Improved cognitive skills
  • Opportunities for students to explore their potential and expand their minds
  • Increased social and emotional learning
  • Improved academic performance
  • Greater learning opportunities in a safe, supportive environment

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), benefits of school-based physical activity include less risk of developing depression, improved mood, better heart health, and healthier weight levels.

Enrichment activities can make learning more fun. They reinforce what the educators are teaching throughout the week.

 Many enrichment and after-school activities can also serve as an outlet for kids with a genuine need to expend more energy, try new things, spend more time with peers, or have the freedom to discover at their own pace.

With caring, supportive staff overseeing these enrichment programs, young students have the guidance they need in a safe environment that invites them to explore the world they live in.

Activities for Younger School-Age Children at the Academy

Here at Strelitz, we offer a number of activities children can participate in to help them feel more confident and capable wherever they go, including in the classroom, at home, and in the community.

Enrichment activities are provided to young students enrolled in our program.  These are some of the enrichment and after-school activities we offer.

Fitness

  • Aquatics: Weekly swimming activities during the school day help kids stay fit while developing coordination and motor skills.  Individual swimming lessons are also offered after school on campus through the Simon Family JCC.
  • Physical activity: Our teams know how to make exercising fun for youngsters by adding variety and turning fitness into playtime.  Students have access to our state of the art Gym and expansive outdoor playground.
  • Outside play: Students have the opportunity to run and play in a safe, supervised environment, either outside in age-appropriate playgrounds or indoors in our gym.

Activities

After School Activities - Crayons

  • Music: A local professional musician regularly leads music circles for our students. Our music program helps children build their language skills and develop improved memory.
  • Library time: We love books, and we share this love of reading with our students through visits to our school library, which helps build strong literacy in readers and pre-readers alike.
  • Specialty activities: Our resource teachers create themed learning enrichment experiences that are exciting and educational.
  • Art: We help children explore and understand the world around them through a variety of art projects that help them tap into their creativity.
  • Cooking: Age-appropriate kitchen tasks teach children how to prepare snacks that are tasty and healthy in our school cooking center.  Many of the recipes are made using ingredients from our school garden.
  • Hebrew language enrichment:All are welcome at our school, and we love sharing our school’s cultural heritage through Hebrew language enrichment activities.
  • Science exploration:Young children have so many questions, and they love to learn how the world works. Through age-appropriate science exploration activities, we help them study, observe, and learn via scientific methods.

We also partner with JCC afterschool activities for additional fitness and enrichment opportunities, such as yoga and self-defense, which rotate seasonally.

Learn More

Be sure to explore everything Strelitz International Academy has to offer for your child and your family, particularly if you’ve been asking yourself, “What are the best private elementary schools near me?” We believe that when you visit us, you will see a high level of quality in all we do.

Our educators are experienced in working effectively with young children, and they know how to make learning fun and engaging for different ages and attention spans.

As a private IB elementary school, Strelitz offers expanded opportunities for students who are ready for a more challenging learning experience. Ask us about what we offer as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

Kindergartners’ Heartwarming Stories on the Importance of Family Traditions

Kindergartners' Heartwarming Stories on the Importance of Family Traditions:

As we bundle up for the Holiday season, families worldwide are getting ready to share meals, memories, and smiles—as they do every year.  But what sets our holidays apart?  At Strelitz Academy, an IB elementary school in Virginia Beach, our kindergarten students recognize that every family is unique by embracing the special traditions their families celebrate together.

What is a Family Tradition?

A family tradition isn’t just a strict, bullet-listed regime families abide by every year.  It is an essential practice of their culture and individuality—tributed as fluidly or rigidly as they wish.  It is a memorable date or event they hold near and dear to their hearts, intertwined with their lifestyle and identity.  Traditions are one of the many ways we feel connected to our families, nurturing our love for each other as we grow.

Who We Are

Mrs. Baker’s kindergarten students participated in the “Who We Are” unit to identify their favorite family traditions, both new and passed down for generations.  Creating their Family Tree Projects to learn about their ancestral timelines and history, students displayed what “tradition” means to them. 

Rolling through some of our top holidays in calendar order, let’s hear what our IB early school kindergartners say about the traditions that shape their families.  Maybe you’ll want to integrate one of theirs into your family, too!

kindergarten class

Shabbat

Shabbat (alternatively “Sabbath” or “Shabbos”) is the core of Jewish life and has been since the dawn of their creation.  The Talmud cites Shabbat as significant as all other commandments and is celebrated on the seventh day of the week, from Friday sunset to Saturday nightfall.  Observant Jews refrain from driving, working, or using electronics and typically honor the weekly tradition in the synagogue or at home with family and friends.

On this important day of rest, Asher joins his family every Friday to enjoy a delicious meal, pray, and discuss the Torah.  Friday is a special day for him because it’s the day everyone can come together as a family.

Meirav embodies her Judaic pride by lighting the Sabbath candles for her family, and is just one of the many Jewish holidays she looks forward to every year.

Independence Day

On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, splitting America from British rule and making every American a free citizen.  That’s why the Fourth of July goes further than fireworks, family barbeques, and red, white, and blue t-shirts.  It’s the day we highlight our patriotism as Americans and thank our history for bringing us to our families and friends today.

Eliza likes her Fourth to go off with a boom!  Her tradition is to travel all the way to Indiana to marvel at fireworks with her grandma and grandpa.  Just like her mother did when she was a child, this day ingrains a habitual bond with her family.  

Thanksgiving

In the spirit of family, Thanksgiving is a pivotal time when families unite to count their blessings and cherish what they’re thankful for.  Whether it’s prayers around the dinner table, cutting the turkey, watching the Macy’s Parade, or breaking the wishbone for good luck, Thanksgiving is a November tradition upheld by current and future Americans.

Rooted in rich American history, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express gratitude for family and friends that you may otherwise take for granted.  Thomas gives thanks to his family by joining his grandparents for Thanksgiving dinner.  He enjoys the fall harvest holiday because he can be surrounded by the people he loves.

Hanukkah

It’s the eight-day Festival of Lights, or for some of our IB private school students, their favorite time of the year.  Hanukkah (“Chanukah”), though mentioned as a minor Jewish holiday in the Torah, is anything but, landing on the 25th day of Kisler (between November and December).  During the blustery winter, Jewish families exchange gifts and warmth by the light of the Menorah, eat tasty oil-based foods (latkes, sufganiyot, potato pancakes, etc.), and spin the dreidel.  Fun fact: did you know that Hanukkah was even observed from space?

For Natan, this is the special day when he prepares the Menorah.  He and Meirav found that they have a lot in common because they both love lighting the candles for their families!

What’s Your Family Tradition?  

Though many of our favorite family traditions line up with holidays, inventing your own is an excellent way to turn an ordinary day into something spectacular.  Like the Chinese worship the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Spanish honor their passed loved ones with the Day of the Dead, and the Hindus illuminate the night on Diwali, humans are always finding reasons to create memories with their families.  Who’s to say you can’t make your own?

Dani is a perfect example of this: she has created a family tradition during a date that is important to her, but is not a national holiday—the night before the first day of school.  During this exciting night, she and her brother eat ice cream for dinner.  The cherry on top is starting the school year at Strelitz the following day, the mouthwatering meal serving as a fresh start.

Being a Jewish school, there are some national holidays our children love to share with their families off-campus.  For Haley, that’s Halloween— every October 31st, she loves to sit back and relax by the firepit with her family and friends, watching a spooky movie or two on the outdoor screen in her backyard.  And when December rolls around, Tacari and Jay both slip on their Christmas pajamas and spend fun times with their loved ones, taking family photos all day long.

Welcoming Our Differences

As one of the best private elementary schools Virginia Beach, Strelitz International Academy is a prekindergarten IB World School, IB elementary school, and a Melting Pot of ethnicities and backgrounds.  Through our child-prioritized programs, we are continually merging our culturally-rich diversity with our premier education, every day.  By reading each of these kindergarteners’ love-adorned stories, we hope you hold your child extra tight during this winter season and continue raising smiles for years to come!

For more information on how your child can join our warm community, please call Carin Simon, Admissions Director, at 757.424.4327. To find out more and schedule a campus tour

Our 5 Favorite Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

At Strelitz International Academy, we work hard to ensure your child is set up for long-term academic and personal success, and it starts the moment they walk through our doors. Our preschool program is designed to help your child hit all major developmental milestones. Whether that be social development, language development, physical development, or motor development, we help with it all. One of the most important milestones we help with is fine motor skills. Through the many fine motor activities we provide for our preschoolers, your child can go into our elementary age IB World School Primary Years Program Virginia Beach prepared for the next step. 

Fine Motor Skills—Why They’re Important

As children develop, they hit a few key milestones—learning to crawl, learning to walk, learning to speak, and learning to perform daily tasks. Part of their development is learning fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are the skills or tasks that we perform daily with small muscles throughout our body. This includes zipping up jackets, brushing our teeth, tying shoe laces, grasping a pen, typing on a keyboard, etc. Learning to strengthen and control these tiny muscles is the process of developing fine motor skills. This developmental stage is essential in helping children become independent and prepare for primary school.

Our Favorite Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers

While we continually develop our fine motor skills throughout our life, preschool is the age where fine motor skills are just beginning to develop. It is for this reason that preschool is the most crucial stage for increasing fine motor skills. Children can learn this through various age-appropriate activities such as playing with playdough, blocks, puzzles, doing arts and crafts, and playing pretend. 

Fine Motor Skills Puzzles

Playdough

Playdough is one of the best ways for children to develop fine motor skills. With playdough, preschoolers can squish, squeeze, pull, poke, press, roll, and pinch the dough into exciting shapes. This tactile experience is entertaining and helpful for developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. 

Blocks

Another fine motor activity that preschoolers can participate in, is blocks. Whether this is wooden blocks, legos, Lincoln logs, or others, blocks introduce balance, alignment, transferring, etc., to their small muscles. 

Puzzles

Similar to blocks, puzzles help children develop fine motor skills by helping them recognize shapes, twist them, flip them, turn them, etc., to fit into a specific hole. These small movements help to strengthen their muscles and make them more adept.

Crafts

Another great fine motor activity for preschoolers is participating in arts and crafts. This can include any craft, such as painting, drawing, coloring, or even origami. By gripping a pen, pencil, paintbrush, or crayon, the muscles in their fingers learn to move independently of their wrist and hands. Similarly, origami requires folding, cutting, etc., which uses spatial awareness in addition to fine motor skills to create an entertaining result. 

Play

Interestingly enough, playing pretend is also an effective way to strengthen fine motor skills. Pretending to cook a meal, eat a meal, or go grocery shopping allows preschoolers to practice their fine motor skills in a fictitious real-world setting. Through these activities, they can learn how their bodies function in relation to the space around them without the dangers that come from actually cooking.

Fine Motor Skills in Later School Years

Fine Motor Activities in the Classroom

The development of fine motor skills not only helps children perform daily tasks but also prepares them for success in their later school years. Activities such as writing, typing, performing labs, filling out tests, etc., all use the fine motor skills developed in childhood. While it is possible to learn these skills later on in life, why not set your child up for success earlier? Instead of having to catch up, they will already be ahead. 

Strelitz International Academy—Incorporating Fine Motor Activities in the Classroom

Practicing motor skills is an essential part of their childhood development. Preschools and daycares should incorporate these fine motor activities into everyday classes to help children grow and learn. At Strelitz International Academy, we provide preschoolers with a wide variety of activities that promote fine motor skills development. Through self-directed learning and teacher-guided play, preschoolers continue to develop their fine motor skills and general motor skills. We offer Magna-tiles, blocks, play dough, puzzles, and dramatic play areas (kitchen, baby dolls, and cars), that all aid in this development.

It is through our preschool program that Strelitz students can progress and enter our elementary age IB World School Primary Years program in Virginia Beach. Our preschool/kindergarten graduates learn and develop in a way that sets them up for later success in our program. Discover how the IB program works and learn more about how we introduce new skills to our preschoolers by visiting our website. 

Increase your child’s long-term success. Speak with the Director of Admissions and schedule a tour today by calling us at 757-424-4327.

Most Significant Long-Term Advantages of Preschool Programs

Teacher and students in a preschool classroom

As a parent, you are dedicated to the long-term success of your child. You want them to thrive and become active members of the community at large. To set them up for success, it is important that you provide them with a quality education.

Strelitz International Academy is a private preschool near Virginia Beach that is dedicated to setting your child up for success in school and beyond. Our program is designed to have long-term advantages on your child’s life. Sounds too good to be true? Allow us to explain.

High-Quality Programs Have Lasting Effects

When discussing the long-term advantages of preschool programs, it is important to note that all evidence provided relates to the effectiveness of high-quality programs. But what makes a preschool program high-quality?

High-quality programs allow children to initiate their own learning activities, and create an environment in which children feel safe, secure, and loved. This includes kind and caring teachers, involved parents, an adaptive curriculum driven by the child, and developmentally appropriate activities. With this understanding, children are able to develop and thrive intellectually, socially, and physically.

Long-Term Advantages of a High-Quality Program

Now that you have a better understanding of the type of program that provides advantages, let’s take a look at the advantages themselves. The long-term benefits of a high-quality program can be split into two main categories—school performance and social integration.

Higher School Performance

According to a study performed by MIT College of Economics, children that attend high-quality preschool programs are more likely to graduate high school, more likely to take the SAT, and more likely to enroll in college.

Due to the nature of these programs, children develop a stronger connection and appreciation for education and the school system. This appreciation follows them through their primary school years and continues through their secondary school years and beyond.

Better Integration Into the Community

In the same study, students that attended a high-quality preschool had fewer school suspensions in high school and were less likely to experience juvenile incarceration. In addition, these advantages can increase in later life in regards to overall income, health, and life.

According to another study by the National Bureau of Economic Research “Other important sources of benefit from the program are gains in parental income while participants are young, gains in later-life income, and decreases in criminal activity. The study finds an overall benefit-cost ratio of 3.2:1 and an internal rate of return of 11 percent.

When decomposed by gender, the results are much stronger for males because the main benefits are reduced criminal activity and improved health, both of which show stronger effects for males.”

A High-Quality Program—International Baccalaureate

One of the high-quality programs available to students in the United States is the International Baccalaureate (IB) World School program. The IB program allows students to drive their own learning experience, think critically, solve problems, become more culturally aware, and engage with a diverse community.

While the IB program is not currently available for preschool students, Strelitz International Academy (SIA) utilizes the same teaching style with its preschool children. By taking a similar approach to learning, preschool students at SIA are provided a high-quality program and prepared to take on our IB elementary program in Virginia Beach.

High-Quality Private Preschool Near Virginia Beach

Strelitz International Academy offers private pre-k programs in Virginia Beach. Our students are set up for success from the very beginning of their education journey. We take on a proactive teaching role in your child’s life, guiding them towards educational rigor, emotional development, and community engagement.

Students that attend SIA go on to attend rigorous programs in high school and beyond. Our well-rounded curriculum strives to impact your children and help them thrive in the world outside of school. Are you ready to increase your child’s long-term success? Speak with the Director of Admissions and schedule a tour today by calling us at 757-424-4327.

Fall Fun at Strelitz International Academy

fun-fall-activities in streliz academy

One of the endearing qualities about preschoolers is that everything, including the changing seasons, is still a new experience. This is an age when it’s easy to get children outside where they can appreciate the wonders of nature. Encourage your child’s curiosity and creativity with hands-on activities that celebrate the beauty of fall.

We created a variety of fun options for our students to explore, from playing in piles of leaves to investigating the pumpkin patch to making new friends in the petting zoo. Other encouraging activities included cornhole games, pounding pegs into pumpkins, making leaf rubbings, and of course, eating fall snacks!

This is only one of the special experiences that are part of our Early Years Families Program, where we concentrate on helping children flourish. We’d love to have your child join our school community. Enrollment is now open for our 2022-23 school year. Click here to find out more.

While you might not have a pumpkin patch or a petting zoo at your disposal, there are lots of options for celebrating autumn at home. In southeastern Virginia, we’re fortunate to be in a part of the country that usually offers a full spectrum of leaf colors in October and November.

Playing in a pile of them never gets old (see above) but there are even more fun activities that start with a leaf hunt, and end with your little ones getting creative with whatever they find.

Sticky Leaf Tree

What You’ll Need: fall leaves, contact paper, markers, tape.

Peel the back off of a long piece of contact paper and place it sticky side up on the table. Draw the outline of a tree with markers, then tape it to the wall. Your preschooler can then fill in the tree by sticking on the treasures they’ve found outside.

Leaf Rubbings

What You’ll Need: fall leaves, white paper, a white crayon, watercolor paints, and brushes.

Place the leaves under a white piece of paper and give your child a white crayon to scribble over the paper. This creates a rubbing. When your little one paints the rubbing with watercolors, the leaves are revealed.

Leaf Confetti

What You’ll Need: fall leaves, hole punch, glue stick, white paper.

Who knew confetti could be both pretty and biodegradable? This activity couldn’t be simpler and helps practice fine motor skills. Give your preschooler a hole punch to make confetti by hole-punching the leaves. Both the leaves and the confetti can be glued down to make some fabulous fall art. Another option is to crush up the leaves and glue them down on a tree template.

Leaf Memory Game

What You’ll Need: fall leaves, clear contact paper, card stock.

For this activity, make sure you have at least two of each leaf you gather. Cut the cardstock into rectangles large enough to fit your leaves, then do the same with the contact paper. Place a leaf on each piece of cardstock. You might want to use a small piece of tape or a glue stick to make sure it doesn’t move around. Then, place the contact paper carefully over each card. Once you’ve made all of your pairs of cards, turn them over and shuffle them around. Then have your child flip over two cards at a time to find a match.

Are you looking for a private Virginia Beach preschool for your 2 or 3-Year-old?

Strelitz International Academy is known for providing some of the best private school education in Hampton Roads within a warm and nurturing environment. We believe your child will flourish in a smaller class with a unique curriculum. Our exemplary teachers, staff, and administrators are all committed to putting your child on the path to a lifelong love of learning and educational excellence. To find out what other parents have to say about SIA, click here. Please give us a call at 757-424-4327 to find out more, or to schedule a visit to our campus.

Summer Fun for Toddlers

Two toddlers playing with magnet pins

Adventures in Science Week Led us to Many New Discoveries!

Science offers so many exciting ways to engage young students. Our Adventures in Science Week was a fun-filled five days of activities and experiments we hope might start our early learners on the path to a life-long love of science.

Toddler Class

Magnets are pretty magical, even if you understand the properties behind them. For our magnetism activity, we learned how to use a magnetic block to push and pull paper clips through a plastic bag, watching as a trail of clips lengthened as we swirled it on top of the bag. The children also built with the magnet blocks, quickly figuring out that they only attached when they were placed in the right direction.

During our playground time, we traveled into another area of science and scooped up a cicada to examine. Our children were very curious to look at this bug! We taught the concept of evaporation by wetting down boxes and having the children “water paint” them as they dried.

For our weather unit, we created our own clouds and rainbows in a container using common household ingredients. The children were fascinated as they watched shaving cream puff up into clouds. Dripping watercolors over the clouds created a mesmerizing rainbow as the colors seeped through. The students were so entranced that we found another colorful science project involving the properties of oil and water.

Infant Class

Our adorable infant class also had a fun week, beginning our regular outside water play. The babies saw some older toddler friends in the opposite playground and had a good time interacting with them. What a great organic way to learn about being a part of a larger community, and the roles we all play within that community!

The class continued working on sitting up and tummy time. At Strelitz International Academy, we spend a lot of time focusing on strengthening core and neck strength in our wee ones, all through play activities. This is essential to helping them move up to the next level of their gross motor development.

You can recreate a simple sensory activity at home that was a big hit with both the babies and teachers. All you have to do is pour a handful of baby soap into a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer or whisk to stir it up, adding a little bit of water to loosen it up. Voila! You’ve made soapy foam bubbles!

Our Adventures in Science Week activities are just a few examples of the many ways to keep your young ones engaged and creative during the summer months. At Strelitz International Academy, our lively educational games keep your children active and learning all year long. Since the early years are crucial to healthy brain development, we encourage inquiry through play, singing, early literacy, and verbal acquisition at all developmental stages.

Searching for a “top private school near me”? We are a top private school serving Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake with a proven track record of exceptional education. Strelitz’s International Academy’s IB Primary Years Program offers an integrated curriculum of core subject areas, supported by our specialty classes. Our culturally enriched curriculum benefits students in a variety of ways.

Our Infant/Toddler Program is for children six weeks to two years old. We’d love to welcome your child into this stimulating, supportive environment. There are still a few spots open for the 2021-2022 school year! For more information or to schedule a tour of one of the best private elementary schools in Virginia Beach, please contact Carin Simon, Admissions Director at 757-424-4327 or email.csimon@strelitzacademy.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

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