The Primary program provides a nurturing, child-centered, reality based, “prepared environment” that allows for the natural development of each child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive skills. The classrooms invite children into an exciting realm of ideas and discovery, where they are able to assimilate information through concrete, experiential learning in a non-competitive atmosphere.
Children ages three to six are together in one classroom. This age span enables older children to model behavior and work for younger children and gain valuable leadership skills in the classroom. Children’s verbal, reasoning, and social skills develop at an individual pace so opportunities in a multi-age classroom provide many opportunities for positive social interaction. First and second year students (ages 3-5) are enrolled in the half day program five mornings per week. Third year students (ages 5-6) are enrolled in the full day program five mornings per week. Over the course of the day children are free to explore the classroom and complete work in each of the main areas: Practical Life, Language Arts, Mathematics, Sensorial, and Cultural Arts. The teacher respects individual styles of learning and allows each child to progress at his own pace and to master skills through repetition. We also include the Kindermusik program, art class, and outdoor exploration in the child’s day.
The third year of the program, the kindergarten year, is the culmination of a curriculum that meets the growth and developmental needs of the child. During the third year, a child exhibits an emerging ability to think abstractly, to articulate thoughts and feelings, to challenge and confirm an understanding of ideas and concepts, and a desire to reach out and cultivate a more complex and satisfying relationship with the world. The third year students’ afternoon schedule includes opportunities for extended curriculum lessons, Spanish, Art, Physical Education and Kindermusik lesson, as well as service learning opportunities, and weekly Meeting for Worship with first and second graders.
One of the hallmarks of Friends School education is the deep respect we hold for one another with the tone of the classroom one of purpose, responsibility, and order. Children learn to respect the work of others, to quietly indicate their need of attention from a teacher, and to appreciate the value of others’ contributions in the classroom. They learn to share in the responsibilities of the classroom and settle conflicts peacefully. The teacher is always there to help with problem solving, to listen, and to model appropriate responses. We build a caring social community at Friends School that inspires each child to embrace his own abilities as well as respect and celebrate the unique gifts that classmates bring to the class.