The blend of Quaker values and action-oriented teaching and learning in our Lower School promotes the growth and care of each student’s academic and social self. Faculty explicitly teach academic and social skills that promote strong and efficient foundational academic skills as well as more sophisticated problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Simultaneously, faculty teach children skills for taking care of themselves and others. By incorporating this sincere and genuine human element into our educational approach, Lower School students do not just learn to accept and engage in the world that is, but they are also challenged to consider and imagine alternatives, developing skills of collaboration, creativity, and social responsibility to help bring about a world that ought to be.
Within the richly diverse Lower School program, students have opportunities to exercise their curiosity, critical thinking and innovative mindsets in a range of spaces and media. In our homerooms, science labs, wood shops, art studios, music rooms, innovation labs, language classrooms, gymnasiums and dance studios, Lower School students explore content and skills in a multi-modal manner. Students find new vehicles for self-expression and for learning about others. In creating learning environments and experiences for students, our faculty consider points of intersection, knowing that children learn most deeply when they have a meaningful context in which to apply the learning.
Meaningful contexts for learning exist in our classrooms by building connections across content and subject matter. For example, just as students learn about forces and motion in the science lab, they learn how to apply those concepts when building wooden cars and ramps in our wood shop. We also build meaningful contexts for students that extend beyond our school walls, looking for opportunities for students to expand their understanding of particular people, places or ideas. Field trips, local walks and service projects provide students with authentic opportunities to connect and develop their learning, considering how their experience fits into a wider one within our neighborhood, city, state and beyond.
Connection is central to a Friends experience—curricular connections, but also human connections. Our connection as a community begins with our shared embrace of the Quaker testimonies and is realized in the ways we gather and unite. Lower School Meeting for Worship is a hallmark of the connection established during a student’s Lower School experience. Once each week we gather for shared silence and reflection as a whole Lower School community—students, faculty, staff and families. As we end each meeting with handshakes and song, a palpable feeling of our connection and care as a community ripples throughout our historic Meetinghouse.
The Lower School experience at Friends offers children a community in which they can grow, take meaningful risks, and look up to their older peers while beginning to imagine themselves as increasingly active and generous members of their Friends community and communities beyond as they, too, grow and mature at our School.