IB Primary Years Program | IB-PYP | La Scuola SF Skip to main content
Ready to Apply?

La Scuola International School


You are here

International Baccalaureate Program

La Scuola is the only International Baccalaureate World School in San Francisco to offer both the Primary Years and Middle Years Programs.

The IB’s mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who will help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.  

International mindedness reflects who we are as a community, as a city and reinforces our belief that the world is interconnected. Students who have a global mindset will recognize their common humanity, shared guardianship of the planet and strive to work together to create a better world. The IB Learner profile nurtures students to become: reflective, open-minded, balanced, knowledgeable, inquirers, risk-takers, communicators, principled, caring thinkers. 

The day to day IB attitudes we foster in students are just as important: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance. These traits and habits of mind are essential for any human being. Thus, we build these and nurture them from pre-K through 8th grade. 


The International Baccalaureate is unique in its style by providing:

  • A holistic approach where subjects are not taught in isolation but in fact using concepts which children can apply to different situations in order to connect the dots and solidify their learning. 
  • A focus on developing strong academic, social and emotional skills-- using language and cultural studies, students develop empathy and a global mindset.
  • The combination of skills and attitudes leads to success in higher learning and careers

Curriculum Structure within IB 

The IB is a framework that allows the school to organize its curriculum around six themes. While the lessons change according to student interest and other situational/contextual changes (i.e, an election year) and age, the themes and the learning outcomes stay the same: 

  • How the World Works    
  • How We Organize Ourselves
  • Sharing the Planet        
  • How We Express Ourselves
  • Who We Are            
  • Where We are in Place and Time 

The Primary Years Program (ages 3-12) is transdisciplinary. This is intentional because children at a young age learn by doing and by making connections to the world around them. Rather than separating learning into separate and siloed buckets, teachers collaborate to provide opportunities for children to connect the dots in every class-- for example, a study of the water cycle can be explored in the garden, then in English or Italian class by writing or reading and in art by using a wide range of mediums to illustrate it.

The curriculum transcends subjects/disciplines by focusing on concepts and the central ideas that we want students to take away. 

The move from Primary Years to the Middle Years Program is largely driven by developmental opportunities. In Middle School, kids have a lot more agency, they have developed solid skills in questioning, inquiring, constructing knowledge so Middle School is an opportunity to go deeper on fewer things to prepare them for higher learning.

Traditional Subjects Vs. IB Subjects

Learn more about IB

At La Scuola, the interplay between IB, Reggio and language immersion really is at the heart of our student experience. The IB and the Reggio work together in extraordinary ways. 

While the IB provides structure for academic instruction and assessment, Reggio provides the 100 languages for students to construct knowledge. Reggio sees children as innately intelligent and curious with 100+ languages—ways of expressing the knowledge they construct and 100 ways of arriving at an answer. This pedagogy celebrates exploration, curiosity, creativity through different mediums to hypothesize, to prove, to learn. 

While the IB gives structure to the academic learning, Reggio provides modality of illustrating and communicating the learning—whether it is an atelier where a child can build a prototype or model of what they imagine something looks like after learning about it or whether they can test a hypotheses—the atelier allows them various materials and tools to express their learning and by doing so, they cement that knowledge. 

Technology at La Scuola is seen as an essential tool, a resource that allows us to go further in inquiry. Whether it's Pre-Kindergarten students learning to code as a means of demonstrating learning or doing online research or in higher grades to arrive at answers—tech is a means to an end. To learn more about how the Reggio approach comes to life at La Scuola, click below. 

Reggio at La Scuola



What is the International Baccalaureate-Primary Years Program (IB-PYP)?

The IB-PYP is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is a framework guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subjects areas, as well as transdisciplinary skills, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry.

The PYP is flexible enough to accommodate the demands of most national or local curriculums and provides the best preparation for students to engage in the IB Middle Years Programme.

The IB Primary Years Program

 addresses students’ academic, social and emotional well-being

 encourages students to develop independence and to take responsibility for their own learning

 supports students’ efforts to gain understanding of the world and to function comfortably within it

 helps students establish personal values as a foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.

The six subject areas identified within the IB Primary Years Program:


 social studies




 personal, social and physical education

PYP Exhibition

In the final year of the PYP, students carry out an extended, in-depth, collaborative project known as the PYP exhibition. This involves students working collaboratively to conduct an in-depth inquiry into real life issues or problems. Students collectively synthesize all of the essential elements of the PYP in ways that can be shared with the whole school community. It also provides teachers with a powerful and authentic process for assessing student understanding. The exhibition represents a unique and significant opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB learner profile developed throughout their engagement with the PYP. It enables schools and students to celebrate the transition of learners to the next phase of their education.

Transdisciplinary Themes in Detail

The most significant and distinctive feature of the IB Primary Years Program are the six transdisciplinary themes, which provide IB World Schools with the opportunity to incorporate local and global issues into the curriculum and effectively allow students to “step up” beyond the confines of learning within subject areas.

  1. Who we are

    Inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; person, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
  2. Where we are in place and time

    Inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationship between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
  3. How we express ourselves

    Inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
  4. How the world works

    Inquiry into the natural world and its laws, the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
  5. How we organize ourselves

    Inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment
  6. Sharing the planet

    Inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.

Each theme is addressed each year by all students. (Students aged 3 to 5 engage with four of the themes each year.) In addition all PYP students have the opportunity to learn more than one language from the age of seven. These transdisciplinary themes help teachers to develop a program of inquiries–investigations into important ideas, identified by the schools, and requiring a high level of involvement on the part of the students. These inquiries are substantial, in-depth and usually last for several weeks.

Since these ideas relate to the world beyond the school, students see their relevance and connect with it in an engaging and challenging way. Students who learn in this way begin to reflect on their roles and responsibilities as learners and become actively involved with their education. All students will come to realize that a unit of inquiry involves them in in-depth exploration of an important idea, and that the teacher will collect evidence of how well they understand that idea. They will expect to be able to work in a variety of ways, on their own and in groups, to allow them to learn to their best advantage.



IB Learner Profile

The IB Learner Profile





  • Natural curiosity.
  • Acquisition of skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research.
  • Shows independence in learning.
  • Active love of learning will be sustained throughout a lifetime.
  • Explores concepts, ideas and issues to understand their significance.
  • Acquires in-depth knowledge and develops understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
  • Exercises initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively.
  • Recognizes and approaches complex problems, and makes reasoned, ethical decisions.
  • Understands and expresses ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication.
  • Works effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
  • Acts with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities.
  • Takes responsibility for one’s own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
  • Understands and appreciates one’s own cultures and personal histories.
  • Open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities.
  • Accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and is willing to grow from the experience.
  • Shows empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others.
  • Possesses a personal commitment to service, and acts to make a positive difference in the lives of others and to the environment.
  • Approaches unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought.
  • Has the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies.
  • Is brave and articulate in defending one’s beliefs.
  • Understands the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for one’s self and others.
  • Lifelong commitment to wellness.
  • Gives thoughtful consideration to one’s own learning and experience.
  • Assesses and understands one’s strengths and limitations in order to support one’s learning and personal development.