Cranbridge International School, Kuala Lumpur
Kiddy123 Frame
Small Wonder Malaysia
British Montessori, Ampang
The children's house
Odyssey, The Global Preschool (Mont Kiara)

6 Unique Ways A Primary Years Program Benefit Young Students

by on 14/02/2017 5145

If you are looking for international preschools to send your young children to, chances are you may come across the International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Program. For many parents, this program is usually one of their main reasons that they are opting for international school education – and it’s easy to see why. A highly sought after program, IB was created in Switzerland in 1968 for international schools.  Renowned for delivering high standards of teaching, pedagogical leadership and student achievement, over 3,000 schools across more than 140 countries worldwide today offer IB.1

With a well-designed curriculum that emphasizes intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills, there are three levels to the program which cater to different age groups:

  • 3 to 12 years old: Primary Years Program (PYP)
  • 11 to 16 years old: Middle Years Program (MYP)
  • 16 to 19 years IB Diploma

International schools may offer one, two or all three of the programs; however they must all qualify based on the criteria and benchmarks established by the International Baccalaureate foundation at all levels of the IB program.

The Primary Years Program

Following the establishment of the Diploma Programme (DP) in 1968 and the Middle Years Program (MYP) in 1994, the International Baccalaureate Organization introduced the Primary Years Program (PYP) in 1997.

Designed for students 3 to 12 years of age, PYP is a curriculum framework that prepares young students for the intellectual requirements their further education would demand as well as the challenges they may encounter in their future careers. According to the organization, as of May 2015, there are 1,266 schools offering PYP, in 106 different countries worldwide.

This includes Malaysia as well and like other international schools worldwide, Malaysian-based international schools with IB or PYP programs also strive to develop students’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing, with focus on international-mindedness qualities as well as strong personal values.

A Global Approach

Based on the core philosophy of IB which "aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through inter-cultural understanding and respect1," PYP is taught to young students with an emphasis on the comprehensive development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.

Through well-designed classes and activities, PYP cultivates independent learning skills in students, encouraging every student to take responsibility for their learning even in their early years. 

"Early learning in the PYP is a holistic learning experience that integrates socio-emotional, physical and cognitive development," IBO says. "In a PYP classroom, it takes place in dynamic environments that promote play, discovery and exploration."

Benefits of PYP

With a strong comprehensive education philosophy as its foundation, PYP offer many benefits that go beyond academic achievements. Let’s look at some of the central ones:

Integrated curriculum

  • In PYP, all subject areas in school are taught in an interconnected manner. Lessons for PYP’s six core subjects which include maths, science, language as well as social studies, information technology, arts and physical education are carried out using transdisciplinary methods so that young students can understand the connection between one subject to another.
  • This has been proven to be an effective way for students to learn, especially if there are one or two subjects that are particularly difficult for them.


 Excellent academic performance

  • According to the IBO foundation, PYP delivers excellent results for students aged 3 to 12. 1
  • In a global International Schools’ Assessment study that ran from 2009-2011, they found that PYP students outperformed non-IB students in mathematics, reading and writing.
  • A study by researchers from Deakin University in Australia of four such programs 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.
  • Another 2014 national study carried out in Australia also found that students in PYP programs perform better than the national average in nationwide science tests.


  • PYP teaches students to make connections between the topics they learn in schools with what they experience in real-life situations and in the world at large.
  • In this way, students learn to be more global-minded and are encouraged to think about ways to make positive changes in the world. This is in line with PYP's educational philosophy which advocates international-mindedness.

Development of life skills

  • Unlike many academic-based education programs in Malaysia, PYP cultivates many essential skills in students. From thinking, communication and research capabilities to socializing and self-management skills, PYP encourages students to use what they have learned in the classroom and apply them in everyday life:
Thinking Skills Research Skills Communication Skills Social Skills Self-management Skills

1. Acquisition of knowledge

2. Comprehension

3. Application

4. Analysis

5. Synthesis

6. Evaluation

7. Dialectical thought

8. Metacognition



1. Formulating questions

2. Observing

3. Planning

4. Collecting data

5. Recording data

6. Organizing data

7. Interpreting data

8. Presenting research



1. Listening

2. Speaking

3. Reading

4. Writing

5. Non-verbal communication


1. Accepting responsibility

2. Respecting others

3. Cooperating

4. Resolving conflict

5. Group decision making

6. Adopting a variety of roles



1. Gross motor skills

2. Fine motor skills

3. Spatial awareness

4. Organization

5. Time management

6. Safety

7. Healthy lifestyle

8. Codes of behaviour

9. Informed choices


 Reference: Adapted by Thomas Woods Utahloy International School Guangzhou, 2008 from a document created at Immanuel Primary School, Adelaide, Australia

Service-oriented education

  • Within the PYP curriculum there is an "action" component form which students are encouraged to be proactive in applying what they have learned outside the classroom – at home, within the school or local community.
  • Their voluntary action would be based on the needs of the community and may take the form of:

                  - Service

                          →To self (at home and school)

                          →To fellow students (in classroom and playground)

                          →To school staff

                          →To the community


                  - Community Service

                  - Charity Work

                  - Environmental Causes


  • Following this, they would reflect on their contributions and how their actions impact the community and the world at large.

Foundation for world-recognised IB programs

  • PYP is the best foundation for young students to progress to the next level of IB education.

  • Through its concept-driven, transdisciplinary approach, the PYP prepares students for the IB Middle Years and Diploma Programmes.







For a comprehensive list of primary schools, click here.