The value of an IB education at the British International School

In addition to providing academic and social stimulation and years of growth opportunities, a child’s education prepares them for future higher education and, eventually, a career. According to Anique Seldon, director of admissions, marketing and communications at the British International School of Chicago, South Loop (BISC-SL).

“IB education is truly seen as the gold standard in preparing students for higher education and careers,” says Seldon. “From the Ivy League to liberal arts colleges, admissions deans are all noticing how much better prepared students are when they have an IB education. It really opens doors for students, whether they are applying to college overseas or here in the United States”

Throughout their experiences at BISC-SL, K-12 students learn the value of academic, creative, and service-oriented pursuits – and how to create an effective balance that ultimately serves them well in higher education. and in life.

“We start everything we do with the IB curriculum,” says Seldon. “We filter many aspects of the curriculum up to age 3 and provide progressive stepping stones for academic and social-emotional skills, and integrate the components of creativity, action and service.”

Spiral approach to learning

Distinct from American educational methods, where students tackle content modules that are considered age-appropriate for each grade level, the IB curriculum aligns more closely with the British approach.

“In the UK, we introduce a bit of everything from early childhood and create a foundation to build on as teachers guide pupils to continually revisit concepts through a spiral approach,” Seldon says.

While the American classroom teaches the middle group of students – often at the expense of learners who need more challenge or more support – the IB approach focuses on individualized instruction. The International Primary Curriculum overlay adds a thematic approach to learning for younger students.

“It really helps kids see the bigger pictures, and they learn skills and concepts that are integrated, not separate silos,” Seldon says.

Using the example of fractions, Seldon describes the game-based approach that works well for 3-year-olds with tangible fruit slices. At age 5, instruction shifts to picture fractions, just as children transition out of game-based learning. “In fifth grade, they work on calculations with fractions and decimals , and in the middle years they moved on to algebraic fractions,” she says, adding that by continually returning to a concept learned years earlier and reinforced throughout, students gain confidence by strengthening their skills in problems solving.

These stepping stones allow students to progress to the full IB, which is implemented during their middle and high school years. “Students are exposed to biology, chemistry and physics in elementary school – collectively, we call it science – and by the time they are in high school, they have two hours of each science each week,” explains Seldon.

Mastery of foreign languages

With an early introduction to the foreign language, BISC-SL 3-year-olds engage with French and Spanish through games and songs. “In middle school, students choose French, Spanish, Mandarin or German, or can even pursue a dual language if they are good linguists, with continuous study of the language until they obtain the degree,” says Seldon. “By the time they reach the junior and senior IB years, they are reading, writing, listening and speaking at high levels of fluency. They demonstrate written and oral comprehension by answering questions in presentations and, at the higher levels higher in the IB, they also study literature in foreign languages,” she says.

From the age of 3, all students learn science, phonetics and mathematics, as well as physical education, dance, music and art. “They really do a little bit of everything from a very young age, and they’re mandatory through high school,” Seldon says. “They are integrated so that students can explore, take risks and find their passions. They explore and try new things safely and they always find something they really enjoy.

At BISC-SL, IB students also participate in a course called “theory of knowledge”, where they learn philosophy, deal with biases and apply reason. “It’s about acknowledging what we think and why we think that way. Students explore their awareness of cultural backgrounds and socio-economic diversity,” says Seldon, adding that each student creates an in-depth essay on a topic of their choice. “It can be in the field of music, science or sports and it is a mini-thesis where students use the skills of research, data analysis, critical thinking and citation of references in an environment favourable,” says Seldon.

Balanced and reflective design

The IB’s holistic education approach to learning develops students who know how to balance thinking and creativity – key skills for solving problems on a global scale. Through meaningful community service, students learn how their actions can impact others. “It’s not token hours that they do once a year, because that looks good on a college application,” Seldon says. “It’s about being aware and thinking about opportunities, how you can improve the lives of others, and how your own trajectory has changed because of the experience.”

From the start, students engage in creative activities that add value to their education as they provide opportunities for reflection.

“It could be an orchestra, an ensemble, a theater for young people, baking or sewing. Part of this is a reflective process so students know the value of a creative outlet that helps them relax. Through this experience, students find that when they are ready for college, the transition is easier. They can manage their workload, anticipate and write thoughtfully. »

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