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The PYP programme of inquiry and planners
The PYP programme of inquiry is defined by six transdisciplinary themes that are considered worthy of inquiry regardless of the age of the child. These are: Who we are, Where we are in place and time, How we express ourselves, How the world works, How we organize ourselves, and Sharing the planet. Each theme is explored in a unit of inquiry which is planned and documented on a PYP planner.
The IBO recommends that at least four of the six themes are addressed by 3-5 year olds, but two are considered fundamentally relevant to all young children and are required; these are Who we are and How we express ourselves.
Due to the nature of development and learning in the early years, some of the units may be designed to be ongoing throughout the school year. In addition to these, any one unit may be revisited during the year (see the time allocation in section 2). However, it would not be appropriate to consolidate several units onto one planner; each unit must be documented on a separate planner.
The teacher may exercise considerable freedom in structuring an appropriate time frame for the development of the units. It is important to remember and take into consideration that the responsibility for developing and teaching the units that address the required themes is not only that of the class teacher and should be shared with specialist teachers.
The amended programme of inquiry for the PYP in the early childhood years and the four planners are to be considered exemplar material. The school has the option of generating its own content for either the programme of inquiry and/or the accompanying planners.
How best will young children learn?
The PYP should be put into practice in a developmentally appropriate way. Practices are developmentally appropriate when the knowledge which may be constructed from them is related to the child’s first-hand experience. This does not mean that young children do not acquire knowledge from, for example, stories, books and videos. However, the extent to which they acquire knowledge is dependent on whether young children can connect the information to the knowledge they already possess and to the symbols they already understand.
The intention of the PYP is to support children’s efforts to construct meaning from the world around them by drawing on their prior knowledge, providing provocation through new experiences, and providing time and opportunity for reflection and consolidation. This constructivist approach respects the child’s developing ideas and understandings of the social and natural world; it continually stimulates children’s revision and refinement of their models of how the world works. It implies a pedagogy that is significantly, but not necessarily completely, dependent on children’s inquiry. For young children, inquiry is demonstrated by wondering, exploring and investigating (collecting data), synthesizing and theorizing. Their developing theories are applied and verified or modified, by expressing their ideas in a variety of mediums and through play and reflection.
The teacher, as researcher, must be familiar with child development and learning, be responsive to the needs and interests of the individual child, and be aware of the cultural and social contexts in which the child lives and learns. The role of the teacher is to facilitate the connection between the child’s prior knowledge and the knowledge to be acquired. This is best done with the support of the parents, because it is the child’s environment, the home, the school and the community, that will predetermine the cognitive experience.