Primary Years Program

The elementary classrooms at Princeton Junior School are vibrant and caring learning environments.  Our students actively participate in their classrooms and are encouraged to pose questions, share their interests, and act upon their beliefs.  They are engaged in inquiry, exploration and reflection while building foundational skills in all subject areas. Our learners feel a sense of agency in their classrooms, leading to joyful learning and excitement to come to PJS each day.

The K-5 Elementary Curriculum is based on the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, a globally-recognized education that challenges students to grow both academically and personally.  With a focus on the development of the whole child, our elementary curriculum provides students with the knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and actions to become empowered learners.  

PJS students study globally significant issues throughout the school year, deepening their understanding of key concepts across a variety of subjects. Each unit is 6-weeks long and integrates language, math, science, social studies, the arts and technology around a central idea. In addition to their units of study, students have concentrated blocks of time devoted to mathematics and language arts every day and attend special subject classes throughout the week.


The Exhibition is a culminating event of the Primary Years Program and a personal rite of passage for our Grade 5 students.  This in-depth presentation provides an opportunity for our graduating students to select and explore an issue of global significance which they present to our school community.  Throughout the inquiry process, students demonstrate their understanding of the IB learner profile and the essential elements of the PYP as they document their learning. Mentors and experts from the school and larger community support students as they plan and conduct interviews, surveys, field visits, or science investigations, collect artifacts, and search for relevant information. Students actively reflect on their learning process by keeping a journal or portfolio of work in progress and participating in self-assessment. Students take part in all phases of the planning and staging of the exhibition. They determine how they will share the story of their learning and action taken (or future plans for action) with the school community.  In addition to a research paper and oral component, students choose other presentation methods that may include artwork, poetry, song, dance, film, digital presentations, or use of other technology.

"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think"

- Margaret Mead

Core Subjects

Language Arts


Princeton Junior School strives to create a community of lifelong readers and writers.  The Language Arts curriculum is guided by the IB Languages Arts Scope & Sequence and reflects the integrated nature of balanced literacy in its approach to listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Readers at Princeton Junior School


Throughout their time at PJS, students will read a variety of genres for a variety of purposes. When reading for literary experiences, reading may include fictional stories, plays, or poems. When reading to be informed, reading may include informational text, articles and resource materials. The interdisciplinary nature of reading is explored within the context of the IB units of inquiry. Students are exposed to texts that increase their understanding, provoke thoughtful questions and encourage whole group discourse within units of study.

Reading instruction involves teaching the skills and strategies to decode and comprehend text by helping students develop effective and efficient processing systems. Strategy-based reading instruction provides students with a plan for monitoring and problem-solving difficulties with text before reading, during reading, and after reading.

Word study, which includes phonics, structural analysis, and vocabulary study is integral to decoding and constructing meaning.

The teacher read-aloud provides a model for good reading, a model for good writing, introduces “book language,” and supports listening and comprehension instruction The shared reading and guided reading components of balanced literacy provide support as the student becomes more confident in applying skills.

The Workshop Model


The Reading and Writing Workshop model is designed to create passionate and capable lifelong readers and writers. In the workshop model, each lesson begins with a mini lesson where the teacher provides direct instruction to students Children are then given time to get to the heart of reading and writing at their own level. During this time, the teacher confers with students to provide support, assess progress and create goals alongside students. The group then comes back together to share what they have learned.

Writers at Princeton Junior School


At PJS, students engage in daily writing opportunities both independently and interactively with classmates. These writing experiences support students as they build stamina, develop fluency and strengthen writing skills. Students may write to: describe an event, persuade an audience, inform or explain. As students write for a variety of purposes, their written work is integrated into the IB units of study. This provides an avenue for students to share their conceptual learning in meaningful contexts with our school community and broader audiences.

Writing instruction involves teaching the techniques and information that are needed in developing the craft of writing it also provides an opportunity for practice and application of grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and handwriting or typing. Students are instructed in the writing process that provides the organizational structure for thinking about, composing, and refining writing. Students can become competent and effective writers when guided through the steps of the writing process. When students read and study how published authors craft their writing, students are able to replicated and develop their own style of writing.

Literary Assessments

Literacy assessments are designed to inform instruction and identify progress along the Language Arts continuum. With this in mind, both formative and summative assessments provide information about student reading and writing. Teachers work with students both individually and in small groups to provide support, assess progress and create goals alongside students.