Elementary School FAQ

What is the PYP?

The International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for young learners (ages 3-12) in international schools. Over 700 schools worldwide currently use this program which is sponsored and funded by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). It focuses on the development of the whole child through an inquiry based learning approach that exposes children to worldwide perspectives while ensuring their academic development.

How do we believe children learn?

We believe that children learn when they connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. The role of the teacher is to provide opportunities for students to build meaning and refine understanding through structured inquiry. In the process the children develop thinking, research, self-management, communication and social skills.

What is the transdisciplinary approach and how does it foster better learning?

In the PYP the students learn about globally significant issues through units of inquiry. There are six units in Kindergarten/Vorschule to Grade 4 and four in the preschool. Each unit is connected to one of six transdisciplinary themes:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in time and place
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • How we share the planet

All students study Math, German, English, Science, Social Studies Art, Music PE and IT. Where possible, these subjects are taught through the units of inquiry. This is referred to as a transdisciplinary approach and ensures learning is more engaging and relevant for students. The homeroom teachers plan the units of inquiry together with the other subject teachers.

How does the PYP foster a student’s personal and social-emotional development and enhance international-mindedness?

The PYP promotes the development of a list of attributes collectively known as the Learner Profile. The PYP promotes children becoming inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced and reflective. The PYP also lists a number of attitudes that are actively promoted by teachers. These are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect, and tolerance.

How will I know how my child is doing?

The IB promotes the use of a range of assessment strategies which are designed to inform the teaching and learning process and provide a full picture of a child’s progress. Summative assessments are regularly sent home for review. Report cards are provided twice a year, in January and June. Parent and student-led conferences occur in October and March respectively.

How can I learn more about the IB and PYP?
  • Visit the official IBO website.
  • Attend coffee meetings and information meetings
  • Speak to your classroom teacher
  • Speak to the PYP coordinator at GAIS
  • Read unit newsletters from your classroom teacher
How can I support my child?
  • Help him/her to develop self management and organizational skills by assuring that homework is done (check the homework book)
  • Ask your child what he/she is learning and communicate your knowledge
  • Support the learning at home (example: when learning to read the clock at school, ask your child to tell you what time it is at home)
  • Support classroom learning through family field trips
  • Reflect together on any work sent home
How does the bilingual immersion program work in our school?

Children start in preschool or Kindergarten/Vorschule where they are immersed in the German language by participating in circle time and playing with other children. After two years, non-native speakers are usually fluent in the German language. New students can receive some extra support in German or English through our Academic Support and English as a Second language (ESL) programs. The program is bilingual with most subjects taught in German through grade 4. In middle school (grades 5-8), students may opt for the German or English track. Students who have gone through the GAIS elementary school will continue to take German in middle school where they can take the German DSD and American AP tests to certify their fluency in German. Students entering the middle school with little or no German will be in a separate language lesson.

How do German students transition back into the German school system?

Experience has shown that our students do not have any difficulties reintegrating into the German school system when returning to Germany or any other German-speaking country. They also integrate very well into the American school system. See our testimonials.

How much does the school value/expect parent involvement?

Parental involvement is required to keep our tuition fees at a reasonable level. Our school community is very active and every parent is asked to take on some an area of responsibility during the year.