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The Choices We Make

Olga Iakovleva, headteacher and PYP coordinator, English Playschoool Moscow, Russia

Since the release of “PYP: From principles into practice”, IB World Schools around the world have been engaging with the content and planning for implementation. We hope you are enjoying our blog series featuring four schools at different stages of their IB journey as  they share their approach to understanding and implementing the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) enhancements in their own context.  Here is the second story in the series that features a candidate school in Russia and illustrates how they are exploring the enhanced content.

 As we are immersing deeper and deeper into the PYP, we start experimenting with merging subjects as they are viewed in our national curriculum into a transdisciplinary programme that can give students an opportunity for research and reflection. We have started our journey by looking for connections between different academic subjects and building a more knowledge-based programme of inquiry. The next step, which we are taking now, is incorporating other areas into the curriculum and to strengthen it by building links between the programme itself, social education and psychological training. After we started our PYP journey, we came to understand that PSPE plays an enormous role in children’s learning and growing and started exploring ways to promote it across the school curriculum. And we, as educators, are starting to realize the role of PSPE in our own lives.

Physical education in the early years arguably should be a tool for both physical development and social and emotional growth. Our P.E. teacher developed a game to present our young learners with a model of making choices, to scaffold understanding of the differences between people, and the differences and similarities in their choices.

Two even teams stand on opposite sides of the gym with their backs to each other. The teacher gives out the two sets of objects to the teams so that every member of one team has a pair in a different team. After a signal, the learners turn around and run towards the other team looking for a student with the matching object. For the second round, the teacher lets the learners choose their objects by themselves. There are more objects than the number of students, some objects can be in three. The running/matching task is the same. As a result, some students do not find a pair, and some have more than one matching object.

With the teacher’s assistance, students came to the understanding that some choices are unique and some are very popular. No choices are good or bad, they are different and depend on our preferences.

The aims of the game correspond with the PYP principle of developing “an awareness of one’s own feelings and behavior”. Learning strategies for coping with, communicating about, and managing feelings which are essential for PSPE in PYP.

Our school psychologist has many years of experience in PYP schools. Apart from supporting our young students to get to know the Learner Profile, she also supports both students and teachers to reflect, work cooperatively and share our feelings and ideas in a constructive manner. Making choices, understanding and voicing our preferences is a hard thing to learn. We have been exploring this topic more deeply with our Reception students, with central idea being Individuality causes us to make different choices. In this unit of inquiry, we were discovering what affects our choices and how to understand and accept the choices of others.Through a piece of children’s literature, we learned that different people make different choices, tried to analyze which character’s choice is similar to ours and why.

Not all the adults have time to reflect, not all can live a balanced life, giving enough time and attention to Personal, Social and Physical development. I need to admit that sometimes I forget about those aspects myself. It is great to have guidance and support, a constant reminder about the importance of those spheres of life. By bringing up this awareness in our children, we also learn ourselves.


This article is written in collaboration by Olga Iakovleva, Polina Ananina, and Svetlana Vorontsova.


Be on the lookout for the second in a series of planning for implementation stories next week. We will share the continuing journey of an IB PYP candidate school in the USA.

One Response to The Choices We Make

  1. Komal Dass 8 May 2019 at 5:39 am #

    I must congratulate you on How beautifully you have explained the importance of PSPE in IB and that teaching the young minds about Choice will lead to better behaviour and work cooperatively and share their feelings and ideas in a constructive manner.
    Your activity is also a very creative one to clear the concept.

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