Beginning as young as 18 months our Montessori preschool students engage in hands-on learning. They synthesize letter shapes tactilely by tracing them in sand. They visualize mathematical concepts concretely by using manipulative materials. They analyze cause and effect by taking things apart and putting them back together. They move freely, follow multi-step processes, and take responsibility for choosing, preparing, and cleaning up their work. They enjoy a sense of independence and achievement – with security and confidence lent by experienced, loving teachers who ensure that the academic and social needs of each child are met.
By Kindergarten, our students have matured into instructors for their younger classmates in their multi-grade classroom, cementing their learning by teaching lessons. They have authored and illustrated their first books, which they confidently read aloud to a large audience at our end-of-year Quaker Cafe event. They can sequence the butterfly metamorphosis, recognize a decagon, map the continents, and detail the organs of the human body.
Beginning in 1st grade, lower school students transition seamlessly to a program of inquiry-based learning and an accelerated level of discovery. With curricula informed by NC grade level standards, lessons are brought to life through experimentation and exploration. In the tradition of Socratic dialog, teachers use open-ended questions that encourage analysis and debate. Venn diagrams and 3D models abound. Key themes thread across subjects to connect insights and activities. Our investigators thrive on environmental study in the school and community's natural areas.
In 5th grade, students advance their inquiry-based studies into a cross-curricular middle school approach with increased levels of critical thinking and leadership. They are undaunted by increasingly complex subjects like microbiology and algebra due to analytic skills honed throughout their Friends School education. Frequent off campus excursions and service learning instills responsibility, independence, and awareness of the broader world.
At the completion of 8th grade, students give a graduation speech reflecting on their experiences and hopes for their future, each year impressing parents and teachers alike with their depth of thought and maturity. It is evident that Friends School of Wilmington students are more than prepared to step up to the most ambitious high school setting – and to self-assuredly conquer the world ahead.