Let's Talk About Education

Being a PYP Parent

February 22, 2022 - By Doreen Garrigan (Gávea Lower School Principal) - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Let’s be honest, parenting is a hard job! There are important decisions to make and as parents, we hope the decisions we make are the right ones for our children. I can recall having to make the decision of where my youngest daughter, Rachel, and I would go first when I decided to move us abroad. Job offers from schools in China, Taiwan, Japan, and Romania were discussed,  each with its own attractive ex-pat package. In the end, Rachel and I chose the right school because of their successful IB programmes. Rachel was deeply committed to her ballet studies so we also looked at extracurricular activities offered at the school and in the city of Bucharest. Looking back, the conversations we had were important for both of us. The right school chose us and we chose the right school and community.

EARJ is currently experiencing an Admissions boom. To achieve 1260+ students during a pandemic says a lot about the school’s educational and community reputation. It also speaks to our path to become a  3 IB Programme World School in Rio de Janeiro. It’s exciting to read student applications especially when parents share what they are looking for in a new school. The reasons are varied with the common thread being a safe and nurturing environment for children to learn and develop. That is most certainly EARJ! As of today (02/22) we currently have 685 students in the Primary Years Programme (PYP), across both the Barra and Gavea campuses. That’s 54% of our student population! That means over half of our EARJ parents are also PYP parents. For the majority of our Lower School parents new to the PYP,  a common question is how to support their child/ren at home within an inquiry-based, concept-driven approach to learning. For many parents, this is an entirely different approach to how they were educated.

I recently came across a publication from the IB entitled, “5 ways a parent can support their child in the PYP.” As part of our candidacy work, parent education is a key component in building a Learning Community that understands the programme and takes an active role in supporting their child/ren’s learning experiences. Whether your child is in Nursery – Grade 5 or in one of our Upper School grades, these suggestions essentially speak to being active, being involved, and supporting what happens along the way.

1. Take an Inquiry Stance

Questioning is a key strategy in an inquiry-based approach. The following suggestions are ways parents can support Inquiry through questioning at home.

  • Meet a question with a question
  • Be prepared to inquire together
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Be a learner yourself

2. Support Conceptual Understanding

Learning through big ideas (concepts) can lead to deeper thinking and understanding. Conceptual understanding involves a process for each child and is not solely focused on a product.

  • Value the process
  • Harness the power of key concepts

3. Prioritize Reflection

Parents who offer reflection experiences at home provide their child/ren time to think about their thinking. This supports them in learning who they are as a Learner. This is a valuable suggestion with long-term results!

  • Get them thinking about their thinking

4. Support Your Child Taking Action

Supporting student action (agency) at home and school strengthens a child’s understanding that his/her learning ultimately belongs to them.

  • Invite and involve their voice
  • Support their choices
  • Emphasize ownership

5. Give Feedback that Goes Beyond the Moment

When feedback from parents focuses on ‘what next?’, a child is given time and space to reflect and focus on how to improve or go deeper in their learning. Rather than waiting to be told what to do next, the child further builds ownership of their learning process.

  • Teach the Learner, not the Learning
  • Give specific feedback on the process

To our newest EARJ families in the PYP, welcome! We are excited to have you join us on this learning journey. In partnership together, may we continue to provide our students every opportunity to be active in their learning, be involved in taking action as a result of their learning, and feel supported by all of us every step of the way.

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