Current trends in International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programs (IB PYP)

Children sit at the tables in the classroom and studying

In the wake of the worldwide pandemic, disruption to education occurred in record numbers across the globe. As a result, many schools and educators were forced to find alternative ways to keep students engaged, especially in terms of virtual learning.

It was a new environment for students and teachers, who learned to adapt together in order to make the best of a bad situation.

International Baccalaureate® (IB) schools seemed to adapt more easily to the change, as the inquiry-based curriculum the program instills had already prepared students to adjust, innovate, and flourish. Even the young Primary Years Programme (PYP) students seemed agile in acclimating to the changes, perhaps even more so than others.

Strelitz International Academy immediately realized how valuable our role was in developing knowledgeable, confident, and caring students during this traumatic period. As an IB PYP school serving Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach, we knew we had to do all we could to motivate our students to succeed by continuing their lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

We decided early on that the best way to accomplish that was to get students back into a hands-on environment as quickly as safely possible. We created new health and welfare guidelines and dedicated a lot of time into how to best serve our students while also protecting our faculty, staff, and administrators.

Because of our small classroom sizes and diligence at safeguarding our campus, we were able to achieve our goals without incident, to the delight of our students, our parents, and our team members.

This has created the opportunity for new emerging trends to be identified and utilized in the educational process, especially when it comes to the impact the pandemic has had and will continue to have on our organization, our communities, and on innovation as a whole.

Organization – Strelitz International Academy is a strongly knit group of educators, administrators, and parents, who can mobilize quickly and shift paradigms effectively when it comes to providing the best educational environment for the students.
Community – Lessons learned during the COVID-19 outbreak demonstrated how powerful our interactions with others can be and how big a role each individual plays in the overall safeguarding of the planet.
Innovation – Virtual learning is certainly an impressive nod to technology, but we also know that innovation does not always mean the best use of the latest gadgets. Some of the smallest adjustments in how we led our day-to-day lives during the pandemic created innovative new ways to accomplish goals.

All of these lessons can be observed by our PYP students when highlighted by our teachers, which can and will be implemented in our educational process. The beauty of inquiry-based learning is that students can learn from real-world lessons and apply them to not only how they learn and understand, but also to how they can be good citizens of the world.

As of February 2021, there were more than 7,300 IB programs offered worldwide, in more than 5,400 schools throughout 158 countries. The four program elements, including the Primary Years Programme, now reach more than 1.4 million students aged 3-19 across the globe. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of IB programs offered across the planet increased more than 33 percent and continues to rise.

Strelitz International Academy recognized many years ago the value of private school education, especially how the PYP can benefit our students and prepare them for the next stages of their lives. We’re excited to see how the education they receive here is shaping their intelligence and values.

If you’re searching for a new school for your child, we encourage you to learn more about the IB PYP and how we put it to use. Better yet, contact us on 757-424-4327 and make an appointment to stop by our campus and see the program in action. We look forward to meeting you and we’d look forward to showing you all that we have to offer.

Helping Your Child Build Fine Motor Skills

IB Elementary School Students doing an Fine Motor Skills Activities at Strelitz International Academy

As adults, we probably take our fine motor skills for granted most of the time. Fine motor skills involve the coordination and synchronization of small muscles—usually in our fingers and hands or toes and feet—when performing complex levels of manual dexterity. This could be something simple such as catching a ball, or a task that’s a little more complicated, such as buttoning a shirt.

The reason we take these intricate movements for granted is because they are so well-ingrained in our minds that we can now do many of them without even thinking about it. However, there was a time in our development when someone helped hone those fine motor skills to give us the ability to write with a pen or type on a keyboard. These skills build over time. The idea is to practice them regularly to help establish better eye-hand coordination.

At Strelitz International Academy, we understand the importance of building fine motor skills, and regularly practice different tasks with our International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) students, to help them build strength in the small muscles and program the central nervous system to coordinate the efforts. As an IB® elementary school serving Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk, this is just as important as academics, and well believe that providing this additional training helps to make us one of the best elementary schools.

Here are a few things you can do at home to help continue building fine motor skills in your child:
Setting the table: Manipulation of flatware such as knives, spoons, and forks requires the grasping of objects and placing them back down in a uniform manner.
Using scissors: Draw shapes on a piece of paper and let your child try to cut along the lines with child-safe scissors. Your child can then use a glue stick to paste those shapes back on to another piece of paper creating a lovely piece of art.
Puzzles: Putting puzzles together not only sharpens cognitive thinking, it helps to build fine motor skills by picking up individual puzzle pieces and successfully placing them where they need to go to complete the project.
Building blocks: Crafts such as Legos® are fantastic at building fine motor skills and they help to bring out the creative spirit in your child.
Eye droppers: This will require several glasses of water and food coloring. Next to each glass of water, write down a color and the number of drops that should go in the glass. This not only helps with fine motor skills, it’s a great way for younger kids to practice counting.
Rice: This one is a little more difficult and probably should only be used with more advanced children. You need two bowls of uncooked rice, two empty bowls, and a pair of tweezers. Two children can race each other, or they can go head-to-head with you, but the object is to take all of the grains of rice from the full bowl to the empty one using only the tweezers to pick up and transport the rice.

There are many different activities you can use at home to build fine motor skills in your child. Think up some great ideas yourself and put them into practice!

If you would like to enroll in the best IB elementary school serving Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake, give us a call at 757.424.4327 to learn more about us and to submit an application.

Going From an IB Program to Another Program

Students Learning at IB PYP School

Moving can be a very stressful experience for young children. Making new friends, meeting new teachers and getting used to a new routine.

When getting ready to relocate to a new area, one of the things you can do to make the transition a little easier for your children is to try to find a good school that will provide them with an environment that is similar to the school they were in previously. Many schools do virtual tours with photo and informational slideshows to give you a good idea of the philosophy and program curriculum.

If your child is currently enrolled in an International Baccalaureate® (IB) program elementary school in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake, you’ll want to find another IB® Primary Year Programme (PYP) school in your new location. If one is not available, look for a private school with small classes sizes, preferably that uses inquiry-based education.

For students who are not currently in an IB® PYP school, the International Baccalaureate (IB®) program is an inquiry-based educational system that seeks to develop the child as a whole. This means their education is formulated to both scholastics and inner growth. For a child that is going from a traditional educational format, such as what they received in a public school, the IB® PYP format is more about learning by experiences and asking questions rather than purely memorizing information presented in books and classroom lectures.

While a child going from an IB® PYP school to another program will present some new opportunities for the student, being able to utilize what they have previously learned will help them to build on the skills they already have and adapt them to their new surroundings. If there are any problems with the transition, a school with smaller classes sizes will ensure your student can get extra assistance from their teachers.

If you’re moving to the area and you’re looking for IB® PYP schools in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, we invite you to take a look at Strelitz International Academy. We are one of the premiere private elementary schools in the area for children age 3 to 12. As an IB® PYP candidate school, we can continue your child’s education, placing emphasis on their academic skills while encouraging their personal growth at the same time, to develop a more well-rounded student who develops a life-long love of academics.

Contact us at 757-424-4327 to learn more about our school and our curriculum. We’d love to have your new student join us and we’d also enjoy the opportunity to speak with you about the role you’ll play in your child’s education, both in and out of the classroom.

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at Private School

Celebrating Jewish Holidays at SIA

One of the greatest things about being a Jewish Day School, a member of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools, as well as an International Baccalaureate (IB®) Primary Years Programme (PYP) candidate school servicing Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk is that we get to have a lot of fun while we learn. This includes learning about the history of the Jewish religion and culture including the customs and traditions we follow.

We saw an example of that recently when we celebrated Purim at school. Our Early Years Program students learned about and fulfilled the four mitzvot of Purim including:
–    Hearing the Megillah: Our EY students not only had an opportunity to hear the Megillah, they then set out to help make a copy of it. Each class from the toddlers to EY4 created a panel that depicted the story of Queen Esther, the heroine of the tale, when the panels were brought together. The toddlers through EY3 students got to hear the Megillah read in person by Morah Elyssa, while the EY4 classes were able to stream the reading in real time through the miracle of technology.
–    Mishloach Manot: The second mitzvah of Purim requires us to give gifts of at least two different kinds of food to others. Each class fulfilled this mitzvah by creating gift baskets filled with Purim treats that were then given to our office staff and our school security guards, Ramon and Mark.
–    Give Tzedakah: While most of our Purim celebration was about having fun while learning, the third mitzvah is teaching the importance of giving tzedakah. This is a Hebrew word meaning “righteousness,” but is commonly used to signify giving charity. This is viewed as a moral and ethical practice, which is not only good for the recipient(s), it’s an important part of building good moral character and developing good citizens of the world.
–   Have a Festive Time: You don’t need to ask Early Years students twice to have a good time, so this was the easiest mitzvah to fulfill. Our students participated in costume parades, played games, rocked out at a dance party, and enjoyed lots of delicious treats including popsicles, cotton candy, and hamantaschen, the famous cookie that is named for Haman’s ears. These cookies commemorate Esther’s victory over Haman and his plot to destroy the Jewish people.

Many special thanks for the teachers who helped make this celebration memorable and joyful for all of our students. We all had an amazing time celebrating Purim and the coming of Shabbat.

Looking for a Jewish Day school serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk? Come visit Strelitz International Academy and let us tell you more about our International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). The mission of the IB program is to build a better world through education. Our mission is to enrich the life of the whole child, to develop compassionate, lifelong learners, and to promote a social and global consciousness that encompasses a profound respect for all humanity. Please join us!

What To Expect When Strelitz International Academy (SIA) Reopens

Students are doing some experiment with Microscope

A major advantage of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is that students are immersed in their learning environments, to not only learn by example, but also to understand through action. Because of that, we decided to open our campus this August for the fall semester and welcome returning students and faculty. We believe that because of our small class sizes, we can monitor and control their environment, to keep our students, staff, and faculty as safe as possible from the spread of COVID-19.

In order to do so, we fully took into account the need to revise our guidelines and policies regarding illness and health issues. We are utilizing resources and guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to formulate our policies and procedures.

Taking into account that infants through fifth graders cannot safely wear facemasks, shields, or other personal protective equipment (PPE), and they are generally not developmentally or physically astute enough to cover coughs and sneezes, we have put together a policy that will always err on the side of caution.

The full details of our updated illness policy are available on our website and in the August 7th SIA newsletter. In a nutshell, students and staff at SIA must go home or stay home and be evaluated by a licensed health professional who can determine if further testing may be needed for the following symptoms:

– Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, with or without other symptoms present
– Fever of 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit with other symptom of illness present or an upward trend in temperature
– Cough
– Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
– Stomach pain
– Vomiting or diarrhea
– Body aches
– Headache unrelieved by hydration/rest/cool compress
– Persistent and/or heavy nasal secretions
– Lethargy
– Unusually persistent fussiness
– Rash or skin eruptions
– Chills
– Redness/irritation/swelling of the eyelid lining with crusting, discharge, discomfort, and/or itch

Children with household members who are known to have COVID-19 must not come to school.

The bar will be set low for sending/keeping students/staff home, and it will be set very high when evaluating their return. If your student is sent home, he or she must be picked up within 45 minutes. Please plan appropriately for this possibility.

We thank you in advance for your patience and support.

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