Our Educational Approach

Reggio Emilia Inspired

Our approach to Early Learning is grounded in the belief that our youngest children are competent, curious individuals who build theory and understanding about the world they inhabit through the relationships they construct, both with one another and with their environment.

While directly influenced by the world-renowned, socio-constructive Reggio Emilia Approach, we build our approach to learning on a strong International and multilingual foundation.

In our Early Learning School, we lay the groundwork for our students to develop 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, collaboration, and negotiation. To do so, we leverage the power of relationships. Our inquiry-based approach encourages strong relationships with children, families, and teachers to build a community of learners and flows seamlessly into the International Baccalaureate  Primary Years Programme.

Early on, we emphasise small group, concept-based exploratory learning, focusing on big ideas rather than subject-specific content. This way, we provide children with the necessary context in which they will use their understanding, connecting knowledge with the “real world”.

We also encourage children to collaborate on research projects and use many symbolic and expressive languages to communicate their understanding. In doing so, we allow children not only to make visible their working theories but also build different verbal languages in a playful exploratory manner.

Children should be allowed to be children after all; playful, curious, enquiring. Therefore, we give value to this special time in childhood while at the same time preparing children for success throughout school and beyond.


IB Primary Years Programme

In the PYP, learning is approached in a transdisciplinary way, based on Units of Inquiry that are designed to both meet learning outcomes for each grade level and allow for student agency in their learning. At St. John’s, students approach Units of Inquiry through a variety of subject areas including language arts, math, visual art, drama, music, dance and physical, social and personal education (PSPE). 

PYP building for the future

Programme of Inquiry

Below you will find our Programme of Inquiry, which outlines the Units of Inquiry that each grade level will focus on throughout the year.

Download the Early Learning School Programme of Inquiry



Student agency is a critical element of the PYP.  With more agency, students take responsibility for their own learning and work in partnership with the teachers to make progress. Students are involved in their learning process with:

  • Choice: They help decide how they learn or how they might share what they have learned.
  • Voice: They share their ideas openly and feel that their ideas are heard and respected.
  • Ownership: They direct their learning with a strong sense of identity and self-belief and work with teachers and peers to build a sense of community and awareness of the opinions, values and needs of others.

Learner Profile 

The attributes of the learner profile represent a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that encompass intellectual, personal, emotional and social growth. The development and demonstration of these attributes are foundational to students becoming internationally minded, active and caring community members who respect themselves, others and the world around them.

Download IB Learner Profile


Action is integral to the PYP learning process.  As students take action throughout their inquiry process, they come to understand the responsibilities we each have toward ourselves, our communities, and our planet.  Action is most successful when it is initiated by students, authentic to their inquiries and interests, and meaningful to the student. Students are encouraged “think globally, act locally.” This allows them to take their passion for a global or wide-spread issue and find ways to make a change in their own life or local community. 

Action could be:

  • a change in attitude or thinking 
  • planning for action in the future
  • a demonstration of responsibility, or of respect for self, others and the environment
  • leading or participating in a youth advocacy group
  • participating in school, community or global decision making 

Transdisciplinary Learning 

Units of Inquiry are organised into six transdisciplinary themes of global and local significance. These 6 themes are addressed each year of the PYP in different contexts through inquiries that are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks:

Transdisciplinary Themes: 

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organise ourselves
  • Sharing the planet


The PYP is a concept-driven curriculum, encouraging students to think critically about the world around them. The PYP identifies seven key concepts which are central to understanding:

  • Form: What is it like?
  • Function: How does it work?
  • Causation: Why is it like it is?
  • Change: How is it changing?
  • Connection: How is it connected to other things?
  • Perspective: What are the points of view?
  • Responsibility: What is our responsibility?

Approaches to Learning 

Approaches to learning (ATL) are an integral part of PYP learning and complement the learner profile, knowledge, conceptual understanding and inquiry. These skills are grounded in the belief that learning how to learn is fundamental to a student’s education/ The ATLs are grouped into 5 categories: 

  • Thinking skills
  • Social skills 
  • Communication skills 
  • Self-management skills
  • Research skills


The PYP embraces collaboration as a part of the learning process.  Students learn strategies to collaborate with their peers to achieve common goals and improve themselves as learners and communicators. Teachers and students practice ongoing collaboration to ensure the learning environment is student-cantered and to allow for student voice, choice and ownership of their learning process. 

International Mindedness 

International mindedness is at the heart of the PYP.  Students are encouraged to embrace their differences and value what makes them unique.  They are also encouraged to find commonalities between themselves and others and appreciate diverse perspectives. An open-minded approach to global issues allows students to see multiple perspectives and embrace a common sense of shared responsibility for each other and our planet. 

"Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world." - Rumi

Instructor Model
Two teachers alternate in the classroom each day:
• 1 teacher modelling in French
• 1 teacher modelling in English

Language Support
Early childhood learners are intrinsically highly motivated language learners. Language teaching and learning in these grades takes place in a fully integrated, context based environment rich in hands on activities. Homeroom teachers are supported by our school language specialists. Individual student needs are taken into consideration and addressed by our learning support team.

Languages of Instruction across the Curriculum
All core subjects are taught in both French and English following the 60/40 Two Way Immersion Model.

Single-subject classes:
• Physical Education
• Art
• Music
• Dance
• Library
Single-subjects are taught in French or English to align with the 60/40 Two-Way Immersion Model.

Bridging the two Languages
Children are in a bilingual environment all day. Bridging* the two languages occurs naturally as concepts, content and skills are introduced, modelled, and practiced in both languages. This is not done through direct translation but instead by layering the learning across both languages.
*Bridging occurs when a concept or word has been taught in one language and then introduced and used in the second language of instruction.