Along with daily opportunities for hands-on learning, experimentation, inquiry and dialogue, students begin the process of building stamina for more independent work in reading, writing, and mathematics. When students end their Lower School years in fourth grade, they have developed a strong set of skills for problem solving and critical thinking, with the ability to work well independently and collaboratively in a variety of settings.
In addition to core studies in literacy, mathematics, science and social studies (PBL), our Lower School students also enjoy a well rounded experience in performing and visual arts, physical education, technology, and Spanish. All students in grades 2-8 are provided with personal Chromebooks, and students in Pre-K-1 have access to classroom Chromebooks as well. From art materials, musical instruments, and technology, everyone is taught to be inclusive, welcoming, and to be good caretakers of the community.
Skills in reading, writing, grammar, and spelling are introduced, developed, and deepened as students participate in a workshop-based approach to literacy. Our goal is to help young students become joyful, thoughtful, imaginative, and skillful communicators and listeners. A myriad of books that represent the people and cultures in our student body can be found in the classroom and curriculum, creating the framework for our program. Students analyze and craft written work in a variety of contexts including opinion writing, informational texts, narrative texts, and fiction.Through explicit whole class instruction in the form of "mini lessons", and concrete goals that are set during one-on-one teacher/student conferences, every student has ample opportunity to practice important strategies and to progress in their reading and writing skills. Students focus on both the skills and the process of writing, including learning to draft, revise, edit, and proofread as aspects of their craft. We use the Lucy Calkins Units of Study Reading and Writing Workshop curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears, Fundations, and Words Their Way, in addition to explicit phonics instruction and vocabulary studies.
Problem solving is at the heart of our mathematics curriculum. Using the Math in Focus (Singapore Math) program, students gain deeper conceptual understanding through the use of hands-on manipulatives and the review of diagrams and models. They also practice and review skills and concepts with a personalized online program. Through investigating problems individually, in small groups or as a whole class, students develop the critical-thinking skills, positive attitudes, and confidence needed for life-long achievement in mathematics.
Lower school students study a variety of topics in earth, physical, biological, engineering, and the social sciences. Through a combination of hands-on activities in the IDEA Lab as well as field trips, visits with experts, and the development of research skills in and out of the classroom, students are able to take ownership and make meaning of important topics and issues. Each classroom’s investigations, steeped in study of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, deepen further through Project-based Learning modules.
Students in first and second grades are introduced to iPads and Chromebooks. In third grade, the use of technology increases as they experiment with coding, website design, and developing their keyboarding skills for writing. All students are assigned individual Chromebooks for use during the school day. These skills are further honed in fourth and fifth grades, moving into specialized technology instruction in Middle School.
Lower school students focus on the testimonies of community and integrity — particularly justice, conflict resolution, identity, and ethics. They also practice reflection, mindfulness, and centering, enhancing their personal connection to silence and our weekly Meeting for Worship. Lower School students learn to listen to their inner voice, allowing it to guide them when solving conflict, hear multiple perspectives, lead their community, or understand their emotions. Throughout their time in Lower School, students become more and more familiar with Quaker beliefs, from learning about the simple lifestyle of Quakers in the younger grades to exploring and practicing Quaker decision-making processes in fourth and fifth grades.
Through a combination of research and inquiry, students work collaboratively to find solutions to real world problems in the fields of life and environmental sciences, physics and engineering, social justice, and the social sciences. 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 and humanities themes. In our local Frankford community, students investigate neighborhood and community problems to meet our goal of enhancing understanding and civic awareness and city pride.
Our Lower School students explore a range of artistic experiences and mediums, from drawing, painting and collage to sculpting, building, and fiber arts.Creating art is an important part of the learning process, often connecting to other academic content areas, and providing opportunities for our LS students to develop new and fun ways to express themselves. LS art also provides many bridges to learn about different cultures and traditions from around the world. 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. Sportsmanship, team building and conflict resolution are integral skills that are taught and practiced throughout the Physical Education curriculum.
Once a week, older elementary students gather to read books and do activities with a younger buddy in a partner class. A school favorite, this program fosters excitement for reading and builds long-lasting relationships across grade levels. Our reading curriculum also includes frequent visits to the local Philadelphia Public Library in Frankford, a favorite part of the week for all of our avid readers!
Lower School students explore Spanish while listening to books, playing games, skits and activities, and interacting with each other in Spanish. Students learn not just the fundamentals of the Spanish language, but also the importance of other cultures, thinking about different perspectives, and learning to have a broader view of the world. Our program progresses students through Early Childhood-appropriate games, songs, stories, and activities, to Lower School performances, authentic text exploration, and grammar structures important to understanding Spanish on a deeper level. By the end of fourth grade students are ready to take on the more rigorous Middle School Spanish program at FFS.
Lower School students enjoy two periods of recess per day, where they are able to be out in the fresh air, socialize with friends, refocus and refuel.Students pack a variety of clothing, including boots for mud play, 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, integrating mindfulness and reflective practices, a healthy lifestyle, scientific inquiry, and environmental stewardship.
Each week, students gather for Meeting for Worship in the Meeting House. Meeting begins in silence, so that students can settle and practice reflection.When moved to speak, participants are encouraged to share an idea or inspiration with the rest of the Meeting. The Meeting ends when the fourth grade elders initiate a handshake.
Frankford Friends School offers after-school care to our students from 2:55 pm to 6:00 pm.The Extended Day staff supervises indoor and outdoor play and games, while reinforcing the same Quaker values that guide the children during their school day. Our Extended Day Program is a great way for students in grades Pre-K to 8 to be cared for after school in a safe, nurturing environment. Under the guidance of our experienced and caring staff members, students have fun learning, growing, and building lasting friendships with kids of all ages from our school community.After a healthy snack, students have plenty of time to play outside before spending time in both teacher- and student-led centers such as arts and crafts, games, construction activities, science, and dramatic play. Students have use of the outdoor spaces and buildings in the NEST. Specialty Clubs may occasionally be offered and families will receive information on these clubs as they arise. The day ends with quiet activities such as story time with teachers.