Why are Elementary Schools Embracing the IB® Curriculum?

Using inquiry skills to build a functioning paper airplane in STEAMinist Monday club.

Have you heard of the IB®  program? 

If you live in or near Virginia Beach and have children approaching elementary school age, you might have encountered this term in your research. The IB®, or International Baccalaureate curriculum, is gaining popularity in schools across the US for good reason.

Consider the statistics: between 2018 and 2022, the number of IB®  programs worldwide increased by 34.2%. Now, there are over 8,000 programs offered in more than 5,700 schools across 160 countries. The IB®  curriculum is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon, with the USA seeing a significant rise in new IB®  programs, reflecting a growing interest in this holistic and future-oriented approach to education.

Let’s explore why International Baccalaureate elementary schools are trending and how they can benefit your child’s education. Remember, Strelitz is the only IB®  elementary school in our area, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads. 

What is the IB®  Curriculum?

The IB®  program is an internationally recognized educational framework that fosters well-rounded, globally-minded learners. Beyond just a curriculum, IB®  is a philosophy emphasizing critical thinking, inquiry-based learning, and strong interpersonal skills. The IB®  program is offered at various levels, from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for elementary school to the Diploma Programme (DP) for high school.

Benefits of the IB®  PYP for Elementary School Students

Here’s a closer look at how the curriculum in an International Baccalaureate elementary school can benefit your child:

Who We Are- Evening of the Arts

Who We Are- Evening of the Arts

Science with oreos!

Science with oreos!

SIA's caring students!

SIA’s caring students!


Developing Strong Academic Skills

The rigorous PYP curriculum covers all core subjects, including math, language arts, science, and social studies. However, it goes beyond rote memorization, encouraging students to apply their knowledge and develop critical thinking skills. Studies by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO®) show that students in IB®  programs consistently score higher on standardized tests than their non-IB®  counterparts.

Fostering Global Awareness

The PYP curriculum emphasizes understanding different cultures and perspectives. Students learn about the world around them, fostering empathy and a sense of global citizenship. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, these skills are essential for success.

Building Strong Communication Skills

The PYP program encourages effective communication through writing, speech, and active listening. Students learn to express themselves clearly and confidently. According to a Stanford Graduate School of Education study, strong communication skills are among the top predictors of success in college and beyond.

Encouraging Creativity and Problem-Solving

Inquiry-based learning fosters creativity as students explore topics and find solutions. The PYP program provides opportunities for students to express themselves through various creative outlets. The World Economic Forum identifies creativity as one of the most important skills for the future workforce.

Developing Social and Emotional Skills

The PYP program recognizes the importance of social and emotional learning. Students develop collaboration skills, learn conflict-resolution strategies, and cultivate empathy for others. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) reports that social and emotional learning programs can improve academic achievement, social skills, and emotional well-being.

Investing in Your Child’s Future

The rise of IB®  private schools is a powerful trend with far-reaching implications. It reflects a growing shift toward education that prioritizes critical thinking, global awareness, and lifelong learning skills—essential for success in the 21st century. As parents and educators, understanding the benefits of the IB®  program can help you make a confident choice for your child’s education.

Ready to give your child a head start? Visit Strelitz International Academy, the only IB®  curriculum elementary school in Virginia Beach. Schedule a tour today and discover how a world-class IB®  education can prepare your child for success in a globalized world.

Friendsgiving: Building a Community

A girl with eatables

By Elyssa Brinn, Early Years Director
“What does it mean to be thankful?” is a common question heard throughout the Early Years hallway as the school year begins. This is typically related to introducing the Modeh Ani prayer during morning Tefillah. The Modeh Ani prayer truly resonates through cultures and age levels because of its widely shared message of being thankful for a new day each morning.

Developmentally, preschoolers and toddlers are hard-wired to think and feel egocentrically. Being self-focused is natural for them, making grasping high-level concepts such as gratitude more difficult. Fortunately for SIA, our curriculum is concept-driven, and our teachers work diligently to instill these values and ideas very early on.

A girl is drinking in acup

During the Thanksgiving season, we had the opportunity to learn about appreciating what we have and taking action for those less fortunate. After all, teaching our students (as young as infants) to share is one of the first values we convey. The Jewish value of giving tzedakah is deeply rooted in ensuring that resources are shared justly. Expanding on this concept, the EY program participated in their 3rd Annual Friendsgiving Feast, with an added action project this year.

Each of our 13 classrooms cooked a dish to be served at our feast, which was held on November 21. The hallways began to smell like Thanksgiving, with dishes including cornbread, challah stuffing, apple crisp, and baked in our newly renovated Early Years cooking center! Tables lined the hallway the morning of the feast, and the entire program enjoyed the celebration together. Overheard at the tables were things like “I like the pink stuff (cranberry sauce) so much!”, “Is this WHOLE plate for me?” and “The cornbread tastes yummy!”

We collaborated with Jody Labstain at JFS. Each classroom collected food items connected with their class’ recipe to donate to the food pantry. For example, the EY4 class who made fresh squeezed lemonade for our feast collected different kinds of juice for “people who don’t have enough money to buy juice for Thanksgiving,” one of our brilliant students stated. He continued by telling us, “It’s so sad that some people can’t have a feast like the one at our school, so we are sharing it with them.” The completed action project yielded over 30 Thanksgiving meals for people in need! Our EY4 classes packed all the items into wagons and carts and presented them to JFS, helping stock the shelves and see their impact firsthand.

This project was able to combine two of our core values seamlessly. Kehillah, building community, and Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, are two of the most important values we want to instill in our children. We love how these acts of community and kindness empowered our students and gave them a true sense of how to make a difference in today’s world. Email us at csimon@strelitzacademy.org or call us at 757.424.4327 and see where our future leaders are born. Schedule a visit today!

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