The premise of conceptual understanding is to ensure that students actively build new knowledge from previous and prior knowledge. Students first need to understand the abstract concepts through:

  • Real world examples and concrete objects (manipulatives)
  • Pictorial representations
  • Discussion of ideas and methods

Promoting conceptual teaching allows students to think more critically, logically and analytically. It also allows students to solve problems effortlessly using research skills and collaboration to focus the direction of the inquiry, whilst deepening their understanding of the central idea. Key concepts will not be repeated through the period of the programme and will be covered over the specified age range (4-11). The degree of complexity of the key concepts will increase as the programme evolves.


What do we want students to understand?

Key concepts are used to support and structure inquiries. The exploration of concepts leads to a deeper understanding and allows students to transfer knowledge learned in one area of the curriculum to another. Concepts have been taken from ‘Making the PYP Happen’.

Form What is it like? The understanding that everything has a form with recognizable features that can be observed, identified, described and categorized.
Function How does it work? The understanding that everything has a purpose, a role or a way of behaving that can be investigated.
Causation Why is it like it is? The understanding that things do not just happen, that there are causal relationships at work and that actions have consequences.
Change How is it changing? The understanding that change is the process of movement from one state to another. It is universal and inevitable.
Connection How is it connected to other things? The understanding that we live in a world of interacting systems in which the actions of any individual element affect others.
Perspective What are the points of view? The understanding that knowledge is moderated by perspectives; different perspectives lead to different interpretations, understandings and findings; perspectives may be individual, group, cultural or disciplinary.
Responsibility What is our responsibility? The understanding that people make choices based on their understandings, and the actions they take as a result do make a difference.
Reflection How do we know? The understanding that there are different ways of knowing and that it is important to reflect on our conclusions, to consider our methods of reasoning and the quality and the reliability of the evidence we have considered.