International Baccalaureate in Elementary School

Growing the Head and the Heart: International Baccalaureate in Elementary School

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program is one of the most illustrious and popular of the magnet programs in Hillsborough County Public Schools—partly because our district boasts some of the best IB schools in the country.

However, when many of us think of the IB Program, it’s probably at the high school level with rigorous course work and demanding schedules.

Did you know, Hillsborough County Public Schools offers the IB Program in several of our elementary and middle schools?

So, what does the program look like for our younger students? We went straight to the experts to find out! Introducing Diana Favata, magnet lead at Riverhills Elementary Magnet IB World School.

What does the IB Program at the elementary school level encompass?

The Primary Years Program of IB is centered on developing the skills and mindset needed to be successful in those higher academically driven programs. It is a holistic approach to curriculum that ties to concept learning and creative thinking. Additionally, there is strong presence of the Learner Profile traits in all aspects of the school with the hope that they not only learn about them but embody them in their lives.

(Learner Profile = thinker, principled, knowledgeable, caring, risk-taker, communicator, reflective, open-minded, inquirer, balance) Students are encouraged to not just learn and grow for themselves, but to go out and take action for others. This mindset supports the middle and high school IB programs.

As a parent of a young child, how would I know if my child is a good candidate for IB at the elementary school level?

All students are good candidates for IB at the elementary level! It is a research-based learning approach where kids make connections and look at things through a global lens. It is for all learners! IB includes differentiated instruction, high levels of engagement and an opportunity for students to learn and explore about their own inquiries.

What are the benefits of the IB Program for an elementary age child?

The IB Program truly addresses the whole child. It helps kids use the learning of the State Standards to connect to real world concepts that help them learn about the world around them. It helps them see that they are part of a bigger world and how they can make a positive impact. Students learn to look at things from multiple perspectives, thinking differently and creatively.

Is Elementary School IB a good gauge of whether my child should continue with the program?

If a child is successful and loving their IB experience in elementary, Hillsborough County offers them an automatic seat in an IB Middle Magnet School. Elementary IB is a good gauge of finding where a students’ talents lie. If their talents are growing in other areas, like performing arts, science/technology, medicine, etc., the district offers magnet elementary students automatic entry into ANY Middle Magnet School!

I like to say that IB grows the “head and the heart.”

Hillsborough County Public Schools offers the IB Program in four elementary schools, six middle schools, and five high schools. For more information visit

Originally published in the May 2022 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.