Why is the IB Programme Important for 3-to-5 Year Olds?
International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO)

What is your memorable early learning experience? If you are like many adults, you have fond memories of kindergarten. We now know, though, that children actually need to begin their education before kindergarten. Those early years are key. Children are active in the learning process and preschool lays a solid foundation for future learning.

Research by the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University also underlines the importance of preschool. It indicates that for children to reach their full potential, they need stimulating and appropriate experiences in the earliest years when their brain is optimally programmed to benefit from these experiences.

These very young learners need stimulating, supportive interactions with their peers and teachers and the effective use of curricula. The early years settings of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) provides schools with a thoughtfully designed way to give 3-to-5-year olds exactly that. The PYP was created over 17 years ago by the International Baccalaureate (IB), which also offers the Middle Years, Career-related and Diploma Programme for older students.

The IB knows that young learners are intelligent, resourceful and creative individuals who grow, develop and learn at different rates. They explore their environment and learn about their world through play and relationships with peers, teachers, family and community members. Early learning in the PYP is a holistic learning experience that integrates socio-emotional, physical and cognitive development. In the PYP classroom, it takes place in dynamic environments that promote play, discovery and exploration. Parents whose children have experienced the PYP in an early years setting like how the programme acknowledges that each child is unique. One parent sees “an appreciation of the fact the children develop differently, so 'one size fits all' doesn’t apply with the kids and that’s quite key.”

Teachers are enthusiastic, too. For example, one says, “It’s quite amazing in the sense that … all the curriculum areas encourage inquiry.” 

And teachers appreciate the opportunities for professional development that the IB offers them. Online and face-to-face workshops are available year-round, including ones such as “Making the PYP happen in the classroom in the early years” and “Play-based learning.” Both practitioners who have no formal qualifications in education or child services and those with such qualifications find workshops designed for them.

Research supports the effectiveness of the IB’s PYP in an early years setting. A study by researchers from Deakin University in Australia of four such programmes in Australia and Singapore found that the literacy skills were fairly developed; children were performing at levels commensurate with or better in terms of school readiness; and children were developing learning skills at higher rates than a comparative sample. The IB works with schools large and small, government-funded and private, to begin and support their early years programmes.

Watch this video to learn more about the Primary Years Programme in the Early Years and Preschool settings:



If you are interested in finding out more about our Early Years programme at the International School of Zug and Luzern (ISZL), or you would like to talk about registering your preschool aged child, we would be delighted to help you. Please contact our Admissions Team.


  • Curriculum
  • Early Years

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