What is the IB, after all?

April 30, 2021

Many International Schools around the world offer an IB Programme, and we recently had an increase in Brazilian schools incorporating it as well. Still, many parents don’t know which are the differences between the IB and the regular curriculum, and why doing an IB course can benefit students in the long run, especially if they aim to pursue Higher Education abroad.

In this article, you will understand the basics of the IB and its Diploma Programme, which we currently offer at EARJ. All in under 5 minutes!

What does “IB” mean?

IB is short for International Baccalaureate®. The IB offers an education that empowers young people with the values, knowledge and skills to create a better and peaceful world. Its programs enable students to make sense of the complexities of the world around them, shaping them into global citizens.

At EARJ, we have offered the Diploma Programme for High School students since 1982. We are one of the pioneering schools in Brazil on IB education.

Diploma Programme

The Diploma Programme (DP) aims to develop students from 16 to 19 years old to have excellent breadth and depth of knowledge – students who flourish physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically. It also better prepares them for the next steps of their academic and professional careers, compared to the regular curriculum.

There are three parts to the core of the IB DP, all of which are required for the diploma.

  1. Theory of Knowledge (ToK): Subject which leads students to think critically about knowledge and their own learning process.
  2. Extended Essay (EE): An independent piece of research about a topic of interest of the student, culminating with a 4000-word paper.
  3. Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS): A student-led project completed over an 18-month period. It can be related to the Arts, physical activities, voluntary service, and more.

There are also six subject groups in the curriculum, with different courses in each group which will be chosen by the student:

  • Studies in language and literature
  • Language acquisition
  • Individuals and societies
  • Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • The arts

What’s next?

EARJ is currently a candidate school for the Primary Years Programme (PYP), which covers education for children aged 3 to 12. For the next school year, we will become a candidate school for the Middle Years Programme (MYP), for students from 11 to 16 years old.

Follow us on our road to become a full IB World School!

Click here to learn more about the IB at EARJ.

You can read everything about the programs in


April 20, 2021

My grandad, born in 1903 and raised in the interior of the State of Rio, was a self-taught man. Being a farmer, a businessman, and a politician in the region, he was not only amazing with relationships and numbers, but also an avid reader. He loved all kinds of books: poems, crimes, novels. As he got older and started to face health struggles, he would ask other people to read for him.

So one given day when I was 11, he intentionally handed me a book to read him a poem, a poem that he loved. It was a portuguese translation of the poem “If”, by Rudyard Kipling. I did not understand much while I was reading it; so after I finished, he patiently guided me through it. I liked it so much that I wrote the poem in a piece of paper and took it home with me.

As my life went by, I would eventually read it again. No matter how many times I read it, I would always relate to or learn something new from it. I don´t think my grandad could have ever left me a greater heritage, as it has empowered me and supported me through so many times in my life.

He never spoke English or visited a different country other than Brazil. But he had books to transport him to the whole world, through his own eyes. As there is no such thing as one story, one character, one poem. Two people will never have the same vision, like movies for instance, where you see and hear everything, and just have to process it. The perspective of a story, the challenges set by a poem, the way a character looks in a book read by a farmer in a tropical country may be completely different from someone living on the other side of the globe with different social, geographical, and cultural realities. Books read by the same person in different times of their lives may differ. A lot. And that is the magic of books.

On April 23rd we celebrate “World Book Day”. How about reading a simple story to your child without pictures or drawings, asking him/her to keep their eyes closed and describe the scenario, the character, the light, the smells… you can do the same, and then you will have fun comparing the two outcomes!

PS: I learned in the EARJ International week that “If” has consistently been voted as Britain’s favourite poem… so here’s the poem, with the translation in Portuguese that my grandfather presented me “a few” years ago. A big thank you to Rudyard Kipling and all the writers of this planet.

IF – By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

SE… – Rudyard Kipling

Se puderes guardar o sangue frio diante de quem fora de si te acusar;
e, no instante em que duvidem de teu ânimo e firmeza,
tu puderes ter fé na própria fortaleza,
sem desprezar contudo a desconfiança alheia…

Se tu puderes não odiar a quem te odeia,
nem pagar com a calúnia a quem te calunia,
sem que tires daí motivos de ufania,
sonhar, sem permitir que o sonho te domine;
pensar, sem que em pensar tua ambição se confine,
e esperar sempre e sempre, infatigavelmente…

Se com o mesmo sereno olhar indiferente
puderes encarar a derrota e a vitória,
como embuste que são da fortuna ilusória,
e estóico suportar que intrigas e mentiras
deturpem a palavra honesta que profiras…

Se puderes, ao ver em pedaços destruída
pela sorte maldosa, a obra de tua vida,
tomar de novo, a ferramenta desgastada
e sem queixumes vãos, recomeçar do nada…

Se, tendo loucamente arriscado e perdido
tudo quanto era teu, num só lance atrevido,
tu puderes voltar à faina ingrata e dura,
sem aludir jamais à sinistra aventura…

Se tu puderes coração, músculos, nervos
reduzir da vontade à condição de servos,
que, embora exausto, lhe obedeçam ao comando…

Se, andando a par dos reis e com os grandes lidando,
puderes conservar a naturalidade,
e no meio da turba a personalidade;
impávido afrontar adulações, engodos,
opressões, merecer a confiança de todos,
sem que possa contar, todavia, contigo
incondicionalmente o teu melhor amigo…

Se de cada minuto os sessenta segundos
tu puderes tornar com o teu suor fecundos…

A Terra será tua, e os bens que se não somem,
e, o que é melhor, meu filho, então serás um Homem!

Cristina Conforto
Director of Advancement

The Power of Play

April 14, 2021

Think back to your favorite elementary classroom. What do you recall in the room? What do you remember doing there? What was your favorite thing to do when not in a lesson? Let me guess… Play!

When I was an elementary school teacher in the 1990s, one of my favorite things to do each week was to set up the classroom environment for the students, essentially to set up the room for play and inquiry. I can still recall what was in my classroom: a dress-up area, child-size home furniture, building blocks and Legos, a reading corner, painting/clay area, book making materials, water/sand tables (depending on the season), outdoor play area, and easy access to board/card games. There were also math manipulatives that lined a whole wall thanks in part to donations sent in from parents.

Students had designated time in the daily schedule for play, some structured play, and some open-ended. Designed to be integrated into the learning day and alongside the core subjects taught, students saw play as part of their learning experiences at school. Fast forward to when I taught Grade 5, I would schedule time for students to choose an activity of interest. These moments of “play” encouraged students to pursue their own interests and inquiries and oftentimes led to student-initiated projects and collaborations.

Play has always been a driving force for me as an educator. Sadly when education entered the early 2000s, the focus on student play, creativity, and inquiry was replaced with high stakes testing and weeks of test prep lessons (yes, true story!).  It was then that I saw many educators (including myself) quietly mourn the loss of play-based learning as part of a child’s learning experience at school.

Recently there has been a renewed interest for play in elementary classrooms. This is an exciting topic to consider again especially with the pandemic and changes needing to be made to classroom learning environments. Incorporating play into learning is to provide students with an opportunity to foster their own curiosity and inquiry, thus developing a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. Consider the following characteristics of play according to the Aistear Early Childhood Curriculum Framework.

Active: When children are active, they are moving their bodies, their minds and interacting with their environment. This is essential especially with enhanced uses of technology starting with our very youngest learners.

Adventurous and Risky: Play helps children to explore the unknown. The pretend element of play offers a safety net that encourages children to take risks.

Communicative: When children play, language has an opportunity to be used in different contexts. One of my favorite memories of this characteristic was watching 3 boys playing together an invented game. The amazing thing was each boy spoke a different first language (Romanian, Turkish and Italian) but through non-verbal cues and body language, they understood the game and each other perfectly.

Enjoyable: You know the saying, “Enjoy it while you’re young”? Well play is supposed to be fun! When play is no longer fun and enjoyable, it’s probably time to try something new. This goes for adults too!

InvolvedWhen a child becomes involved in their play, they are working at play. This means they are thinking about what they are doing or creating. Just as adults need to concentrate at work, when children are engrossed in play, they develop the necessary skills to stay focused and involved.

MeaningfulWhen play is meaningful, connections are made and deepened from across the curriculum. Children have the opportunity to try out theories and ideas and connect play to the real world.

SymbolicSymbolic play may look like they are “pretending” but in reality, they are trying out roles, behaviors, and feelings. It is in this type of play children are making sense of the world and their place in it. Essentially, they reenact the past and rehearse for the future.

Therapeutic: When play is fun, engaging, and meaningful,  it can also be therapeutic. Therapeutic play can help with stress and sorting out emotions and experiences.

Voluntary: Play needs to be in the hands of the children so they can change, alternate or manipulate it freely. When play is voluntary, children develop agency for their own choices and their own learning.

The power of play is that it provides children with the opportunity to develop important life skills they will use the rest of their lives such as problem-solving, collaboration, and cooperation to name just a few.  Combine play with creativity and inquiry and we have a winning combination for this future generation to approach real world problems and to have the skill sets and confidence to go into the world with courage and compassion.

Doreen Garrigan
Gávea Lower School Principal