Parents of young children are constantly faced with decisions about what’s best for their kids. From the earliest days of “Which car seat is safest?” to “What’s the best method for potty training?”, coming up with the right answers can sometimes be nerve-wracking.

And then comes THIS daunting question: “Which type of preschool will be right for my child when the time comes?” Finding the best preschool fit can help set the stage for your little one’s early childhood development and education … and reach even beyond that. But no pressure, right?!

At the end of the day, most parents will opt for what educators refer to as a “formal” preschool experience — one which follows a set schedule, teaches discrete disciplines, and has an academic focus. And there are some wonderful places for these young learners to begin their educational journey, including Fairmont Schools in Orange County, California.

But while a formal preschool may suit many families’ needs, others may be looking for a more progressive approach to early childhood education. One approach which has gained considerable notoriety in recent years is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP).

What is the IB PYP?

Built on a cornerstone of creating a better world through education, IB promotes the education of the whole person. The Primary Years Programme serves young, curious minds as they develop an understanding of who they are and how the world works, guided by an internationally-minded, inquiry-based approach that is considered a world-standard in education. PYP challenges children — even the youngest learners — to think for themselves and take responsibility for their learning.

According to IB, although the PYP program serves children aged all the way from 3 – 12, it “ … acknowledges the unique needs of early learners, aged 3 to 6 years. It is a distinguishing feature of the programme which recognizes that learners in this age range require approaches to learning and to teaching that honor their developmental stage, and the importance of play as the vehicle for inquiry. Since experiences during the early years lay the foundation for all future learning, the PYP framework allows educators to make choices to best enable learners to flourish. Early learning in the PYP is a holistic learning experience that integrates socio-emotional, physical and cognitive development. In the PYP classroom, that takes place in dynamic environments that promote play, discovery and exploration.”

The PYP is available at Fairmont Schools’ Historic Anaheim Campus, which also offers the Middle Years Program for 6th – 8th grade students. Fairmont Preparatory Academy has an IB Diploma Programme for high school students, making Fairmont one of only 19 schools in the US to offer the full continuum of IB Programmes.

“Preschool-age children are remarkably inquisitive, which makes them perfectly suited for the Primary Years Programme,” said Rebecca Lugo, Head of School at Fairmont’s Historic Anaheim Campus. “Given the right learning environment and teachers, they have the ability to grow to embody the very desirable characteristics of the IB learner profile — inquirer, knowledgeable, thinker, communicator, principled, balanced, open-minded, risk-taker, reflective, and caring.”

You’ve got this, moms and dads!

Choosing a preschool may seem like a tall order, but you can equip yourself to make the best possible decision. First, take comfort in the fact that you know your child better than anyone! You understand their unique temperament and propensities, so consider the structure that would best suit them. Talk with trusted friends and family who have gone before you on this early childhood education journey. Log time on the internet and get familiar with the preschool programs available in your area. And then visit, visit, visit places until you find your “Goldilocks” school — the one that is “just right!”

Could the IB PYP Programme Be Right for Your Family?

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