We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion, and purpose.
— Tony Wagner

Princeton Junior School’s Elementary Program provides students with daily opportunities to think critically, work with their peers and learn through meaningful project based experiences.  Throughout the day, students are engaged in transdisciplinary studies, which help them make connections and transfer new concepts.  Our inquiry-based approach promotes natural curiosity, community building and conceptual learning.  We encourage them to develop an awareness of their own abilities and to take responsibility for their educational progress.

At PJS, we believe that children in the elementary grades learn best when the curriculum is:

  • Geared to their developmental needs
  • Designed to draw out their intelligence, abilities, talents, awareness and respect for one another and the community
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Relevant, significant and connected to their lives
  • Challenging them to take risks and develop resilience if they make mistakes
  • Supportive of their individual learning styles
  • Active, imaginative, demanding and fun
  • Project-oriented and experiential
  • Stimulating through provocative questions
  • Responsive to the latest technologies that advance learning

Grade level teachers and specialists collaborate to integrate core subjects -Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science- with special subjects- Learning Through Landscapes, Windows to the World, World Languages, Art, Music, Technology and Personal, Social and Physical Education (PSPE).   For details about the Special Subjects, click here. 

The IB PYP Framework:

As an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP World School, Princeton Junior School offers an inquiry-based curriculum framework through the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) that provides opportunities for our students to develop an understanding of essential concepts, skills, knowledge in academic subject areas and attitudes which will enable them to be lifelong learners in a rapidly changing world.  

The IB PYP Learner Profile emphasizes the growth and development of the whole child in all areas of learning with a focus on international mindedness, understanding and respect.   By placing importance on how children learn as well as what they learn, children reflect on their learning, becoming critical thinkers with the interest and ability to take action for a peaceful and sustainable future.  

In the Elementary Program at Princeton Junior School, classroom teachers and specialist teachers organize units of inquiry around six transdisciplinary themes over the course of the school year.  These themes are of global significance, and they integrate language, math, science, social studies, the arts and technology around a central idea, allowing students to step beyond the confines of learning within subject areas.

While each grade level explores the same six transdisciplinary themes, the central ideas at each grade level is different, so students examine the same themes each year but through different lenses.  For example, each year all students in grades K-5 will engage in one unit of inquiry within the theme Sharing the planet, but each grade level will be investigating a different central idea:

  • Interdependence is essential to the web of life
  • How humans use and discard materials impacts the natural environment
  • Water is essential to life, but many people have limited access to it
  • Biodiversity relies on maintaining the interdependent balance of organisms within systems
  • Different strategies can be used to resolve conflict and maintain peace
  • People have rights and responsibilities in caring for, managing and sharing the world's natural resources

In this way, students spiral through the six transdisciplinary themes each year, deepening and broadening their understanding of key concepts across different subjects.

For more information about the IB PYP, visit www.ibo.org