Three Reasons Why Strelitz International Academy Is the Best Choice for Your First Grader

A girl is writing on a paper in school

Picking the right school for your little one is a massive step. It’s not just about the building or the books; it’s about setting the tone for their whole learning adventure. If you’re in Virginia Beach, near Norfolk or Chesapeake, and thinking about where to start that adventure, Strelitz International Academy (SIA) is your answer. Here’s why it’s a top pick for families with first graders:

1. We are the only International Baccalaureate® (IB®) school in the area.

A girl showing her writing on the paper

A common question we hear from parents is, “What age should you start in 1st grade?” At SIA, we traditionally see children entering first grade around six or seven, ensuring they are developmentally ready to engage with the challenging and enriching International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Programme (IB® PYP). As the only IB® World School in the area, SIA offers a charming beginning to your child’s education right from infancy. We provide a nurturing, safe environment focusing on sensory activities, storytime, and interactive play, blending care with early learning perfectly.

As part of the IB® Way, our certified teachers prioritize each child’s natural curiosity, guiding them through hands-on activities that make learning exciting and meaningful. From the start, SIA children are engaged in a curriculum that includes language arts, science, math, and more, all while being infused with Jewish cultural values and Hebrew language learning. But it doesn’t stop there – music, art, and P.E. contribute to a well-rounded development.

Our program in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk encourages children to see themselves as competent learners and valuable members of a caring community. Enrollment is open to families of all faiths, and our graduates are known for smoothly transitioning into either top independent schools or continuing their IB® education, fully prepared for the challenges of a fast-paced world. SIA is the sole provider of this internationally recognized framework for first graders in the Primary Years Program (PYP), making us a unique and forward-thinking choice for your child’s education.

2. We use renowned curriculums like the Suzuki Method.

Just as parents guide their child’s first words, they actively participate in their musical journey as part of their 1st-grade learning objectives at Strelitz International Academy. Attending lessons together and acting as “home teachers” during the week creates a supportive environment. You might even learn to play alongside your child, understanding their progress firsthand.

The early years in our Suzuki Violin Program are like fertile soil for growing skills. While formal training can start around age three or four, listening to music should begin at birth. Familiarity with pieces from the Suzuki repertoire ensures that your child recognizes them instantly. Like learning new words, constant repetition is key. Children don’t discard words—they incorporate them into their vocabulary. Similarly, our PYP Suzuki students build their musical repertoire gradually, mastering each step.

Just as sincere praise motivates language development, it fuels musical progress. Each child learns at their own pace, celebrating small achievements. Encouraging a supportive atmosphere among peers fosters generosity and cooperation. Beyond private lessons, group sessions allow children to learn from and inspire each other. These shared experiences enhance their musical journey.

Suzuki’s pieces present technical challenges within the context of music itself. It’s like using language for communication rather than dry grammar exercises. And just as children learn to talk before reading, Suzuki students develop basic technical competence before diving into sheet music. Hear more about the Suzuki method and other topics on education, student advocacy, and parental challenges with S.I.A.: The Podcast!

3. Our classrooms set first graders up for growth.

Strelitz International Academy is designed to enrich and inspire first graders at every corner.  That’s why our classrooms are designed to feel like a second home, filled with natural light and equipped with child-friendly amenities like bathrooms and sinks. Our indoor and outdoor play areas offer safe spaces for children to engage in physical activities and socialize, both essential for motor skill development and forging friendships.

Learning goes beyond the basics as part of SIA’s goals for first graders. With a curriculum that includes music, library visits, and physical education, we ensure our students receive a holistic education. Additional facilities like the Cooking Center & Outdoor Learning Garden and a state-of-the-art technology program with Chromebooks, ActiveBoards, and coding and robotics clubs ignite creativity and promote critical thinking.

From the advanced science program starting in kindergarten to global learning opportunities through field trips, virtual experiences, and community service, we prepare our first graders to grow into curious, confident, and compassionate learners.

Call us and Schedule a visit today and discover why SIA is the best choice for your child’s growth and success.

Summertime at the Strelitz International Academy

Early Years 2 student, Keren Shechter, uses shiny paper to create a paper plate rainbow fish.

Rainbows, rocket ships and red, white and blue spirit are just some of the themes that filled our classrooms this summer! Our summer session at the Strelitz International Academy has been busy both inside and outside of the classroom. Early Years students have experienced swimming at the JCC’s swimming pool daily and water play to cool off on the hot, sunny days! To keep up the excitement and engagement throughout the summer, a new theme is introduced weekly. Our creative educators plan daily lessons and activities that follow the week’s themes and are sure to put a smile on our students’ faces!

We commenced our summer program with Animal Kingdom week. Students in Morah Jamie Jones and Morah Erika Ferrell’s toddler class enjoyed fun crafts and sensory activities. Students engaged their fine motor skills while using stampers and paintbrushes to create lions. The toddlers also used tweezers to “rescue” animals from hay. Despite it being a rainy first week, the students used their imagination and had a wonderful time!

Early Years 2 student, Keren Shechter, uses shiny paper to create a paper plate rainbow fish.

Toddler 4 student, Everett Booth, holding a lion he “rescued” from the hay.

Toddler 4 student, Everett Booth, holding a lion he “rescued” from the hay.

Next up was Under the Sea week! Morah Rachel Helms and Morah Lorena Smithson’s Early Years 2 class read The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. After reading the story, the students constructed paper plate rainbow fish and used sparkly paper to cut up and apply as the shimmering scales. Helms and Smithson created a beach-themed sensory bin with sand, ocean animal figures and tools to build sandcastles.  The weather was perfect, and students and staff had a great time!

To kick off the month of July, our theme was Red, White and Blue! Although it was a shorter week due to the holiday, it was still full of exciting activities. Toddlers in Morah Katie Norman and Morah Teresa Briscoe’s class explored their artistic expression. The toddlers used dish washing brushes as their painting instruments. Using different brushes for each color, they created bright and colorful fireworks on colored construction paper. This was a new and unique experience for our students, and they will be tying it into another themed week this summer!

Although the summer at SIA is quickly approaching an end, we are looking forward to the last few weeks and the creative experiences the themes will bring. Whether it be blasting off in a rocket ship or a color run for Color Madness week, we are confident that our educators will bring enthusiasm and participation to our classrooms. We hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer!

IB Professional Development Day at SIA

SIA faculty and administrators attended the IB® Virtual Conference

Strelitz International Academy recently held an International Baccalaureate (IB®) Professional Development Day for the whole school, led by SIA faculty and administrators who attended the IB® Virtual Conference held in early December 2020. The conference, titled “Reimagine the Future,” was the first of its kind, virtually welcoming more than 4,500 passionate educators and inspiring leaders from 110 countries across the globe.

In addition to keynote speakers and topic experts providing insights and inspiration, there were a total of 77 breakout sessions for virtual conference visitors to attend. Topics covered the Primary Years Programme, the Middle Years Programme, Diploma Programme, Career-related Programme, Cross-programme, Leadership, and Research.

The three keynote speakers included Kiran Bir Sethi, who presented “Human by Chance. HumanE by Design,” Graham Brown-Martin’s “Beyond tomorrow,” and Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, who lectured on “Leadership from the inside out.” These impactful speeches highlighted the importance educators play in creating learning environments that maximize students’ potential, stimulate innovation, and forge strong and long-lasting relationships with others.

The topic expert lectures urged conference attendees to re-evaluate their perceptions about teaching to find new strategies that would shape the future of learning. Some of the topics presented included, “Is our world really changing? Diversity and Inclusion in 2021” by Roy Gluckman; “Transform pedagogy, transform learning, transform education” by Chang Wathall; “Learning together while apart: Collaborative learning in the COVID era” by Daniel Wilson; “Practical digital wellbeing, or how to stay sane after eight hours of teaching on Zoom” by Dr. Anastasia Dedyukhina; “Building student agency through needs-based support plans” by Shelley Moore; and “Radical self-care as a tool to care radically for humanity” by Jamilah Pitts.

Considering this was a world-wide conference spanning two dozen time zones, the logistics involved to make sure attendees could have access to all of the information presented was incredible. To make it easier for people who could not attend a break-out session at 4:00 a.m. in their particular time zone, all sessions were available on-demand after airing so everyone could have access to them at any time.

Based on all of the information that our attendees came back with, our IB® Professional Development Day allowed us to review and share our new Assessment Policy, Formative versus Summative Assessments, rubrics, student portfolios, student reflections, inquiry into how concepts drive transdisciplinarity, and International Mindfulness.

This was a fantastic reminder for us all that education never stops. And Strelitz International Academy will continue to provide the best elementary school education possible for our students to help incite a life-long love of learning.

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