Our curriculum introduces age-appropriate academic skills, primarily through inquiry and exploration, and supports each child’s developmental and social/emotional needs. Children have the opportunity to make their own choices within a carefully crafted learning environment that includes whole class and small group lessons, centers, and plenty of indoor and outdoor play.
Early Childhood classes also enjoy classes in Spanish, art, physical education, and music, as well as walks to the public library. Across the curriculum, skills such as active listening, understanding and expressing their feelings, self-regulation, compromise, and collaboration are taught and practiced to help children build strategies to navigate their social world. A strong sense of community is fostered through classroom meetings, collaboration with peers, and exposure to diverse ideas, cultures, and experiences, laying the foundation for students to become advocates for social justice and responsible and reflective citizens of the world.
Our youngest children build a foundation for literacy through interactive story time and imaginative role playing. We build on literacy skills through explicit phonics and phonemic awareness instruction, including playing with sounds through rhymes, syllables, and letters. Students are also introduced to basic concepts of print through storytelling, book discussions, and independent reading. In a natural progression of literacy, our students begin by creating and telling stories through pictures. As they become more familiar with letter formation, they add letters and words to their stories. Students also experience Reader’s and Writer’s workshop and dive deeper into phonics and handwriting techniques.
Hands-on activities, manipulatives and real world problems are at the heart of all math lessons. In Pre-K, students learn a foundation of math concepts such as counting, ordering, comparing, recognizing patterns, money, and telling time. Students in Kindergarten continue to explore and play with those concepts as they develop fluency and numbers sense. By first grade, we aim to have a comprehensive conceptual understanding as we progress through the Math in Focus program.
Our students use inquiry-based processes to foster their curiosity and problem-solving skills, and to gain an appreciation for in-depth investigation. They experiment with objects, materials, and phenomena that allow them to build the foundation for understanding basic science concepts. In our local Frankford community, students investigate neighborhood and community problems to meet our goal of enhancing understanding and civic awareness and city pride. Students also learn about and find solutions to real world problems in the fields of life and environmental sciences, physics and engineering, social justice, and the social sciences. This leads them to a place of true intellectual curiosity and a confidence in their ability to learn and share.
Students focus on values and concepts important to building a strong community: friendship, self-image, peacemaking, equality, similarities and differences, understanding, and acceptance. They also learn to take time for reflection and mindfulness which helps them to grow into good community members.
On campus, some of the best learning happens through play - with water, dirt, and natural materials - and through climbing, crawling, running, jumping, and participating in physical activities at Overington Park or The Nest. Time for fresh air and social interactions is important, and so Early Childhood students enjoy two periods of recess per day. They pack a variety of clothing so they can be outside in all kinds of weather. Our outdoor experiential education program provides hands-on field studies and nature play for students at FFS, integrating mindfulness and reflective practices, a healthy lifestyle, scientific inquiry, and environmental stewardship.
Our Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students practice a variety of skills in centers, where they receive individual and small group support from teachers. Centers include games, art activities, literacy instruction, and math instruction. Many fun activities and games are used to help children develop fine and gross motor skills while also working on important academic skills such as responding to literature, journal writing, pattern making, problem solving, and handwriting.
Everyday students have time to relax, refuel, and refresh their brains with a healthy snack brought from home. Snack is much more than a time to fill hungry bellies. This important routine helps children to develop conversational skills with each other in small groups. They also develop independence as they learn, with support, to manage their choices and time. Recess is a time for daily exploration of the natural environment through imaginative play, physical activity, and opportunities to practice resolving conflicts through peaceful means, all within the safety of our teachers.
Our Early Childhood students explore a range of artistic experiences, from painting and collage to sculpting and building 3D designs out of natural and recyclable materials. Art is an important part of the learning process, oftentimes connecting to other academic content areas, and providing opportunities for our EC students to develop new and fun ways to express themselves. Using scissors and a variety of other materials and tools supports fine motor skill development as well.
Physical Education is fun and interactive, providing a balance of gross motor skills development, cooperative team building skills, and mindfulness exercises. Children enjoy a range of activities including yoga, relay races, obstacle courses, and age appropriate games.
Even our youngest of students engage deeply with the Quaker values and practices at Frankford Friends School. In a developmentally appropriate manner, teachers guide our Pre-K and Kindergarten students to begin taking part in the silence of Meeting for Worship, first practicing as a small group. Through exploration, creativity, mindfulness, and centering in the silence, students are gradually exposed to the power and pleasure of a still, quiet moment.
Mats are laid out for each child to take a rest with their favorite stuffed toy and blanket. Some children sleep, while others enjoy a quiet book by themselves.
The FFS Extended Day Program is available to students in PreK through 8th grades. Students are provided a healthy snack and then have plenty of time to play in The Nest and engage in a variety of teacher-led activities such as arts and crafts, sports, dramatic play, and science and construction projects. Older students have time to complete homework with teacher assistance as needed. A variety of clubs are offered as well.