The Quaker principles of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship and Service are at the core of who we are and what we do in the classroom each day. Through modeling at school and home, the children begin to understand the meaning of each principle, can give relatable examples and know how to use them with each other.
As part of our Responsive Classroom curriculum, which works in tandem with our Quaker approach to education, children gather to greet each other, make eye contact, shake hands, communicate and share their thoughts. Our curriculum is enriched through cross-divisional service learning activities and collaboration with our Quaker-in-Residence Teacher John. Each and every day starts and ends with a moment of silence and each meal begins with a reflection of gratitude. Children are taught the importance of showing kindness, compassion, and respect for their peers and for the world around them.
Two programs in one
Learning from each other: Both our 3- and 4-year-old students benefit from being so close to one another and allow the two programs to interact fluidly with another. And while the older students are given the responsibility of modeling correct behavior, the younger students are able to expand their circle of friends. The Friends Academy Early Childhood Center is a full-day program, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. (Supervised Play begins at 7:45 a.m.)
Our Academic Program
Through a Reggio-inspired emergent curriculum, children learn through deep, engaging play experiences. The power of play helps to promote social, emotional, and cognitive growth. Teachers act as guides, providing plenty of opportunity for self-discovery, and allow students to explore their environment at their own pace. Through personalized and daily documentation with photos, videos and notes, teachers are able to reflect and respond in real time between the team and with parents. This level of observation enables parents to learn about their child's work and feel just as connected to the program. Teachers have the opportunity to observe each child, distinguish different learning styles, assess the children's understanding of the material being presented. With an emergent curriculum, teachers are able to teach in tandem with a child's interests, engaging them in the curriculum more deeply. Teachers can also use a child's interest as a vehicle for teaching the learning standards a child needs to know for the next grade level.
Block play: Block play is emphasized throughout the day, creating a space for the children to be creative, explorative, imaginative and inventive. Block play also encourages children to start making predictions, comparisons, and helps to expand their vocabulary as they communicate with each other in collaboration. In creating their structures, children utilize math and science skills, collaboration, spatial awareness and language acquisition. In this teacher-guided setting, children start with a gathered meeting where they decide collectively on the nature of their build, negotiate different responsibilities, construct and then add details and accessories. Both builders and presenters, children share with their classmates both building techniques, as well as individual roles in the process.
Handwriting Without Tears
For our PreK students, the Handwriting Without Tears program employs wooden manipulatives as part of a physical visualization process. Children can create the letters before they hold a crayon to write them on paper, gaining valuable cognitive ability that will assist them with their developing fine motor skills.
Science & Math
Science: Reggio-based, the Early Childhood science curriculum challenges and engages children with science throughout the school day – from nature investigation and observation to collecting natural elements around campus to use as academic manipulatives and in artwork. Each month, we feature a different unit based on both the season and the interests of the children.
Gardening & Nature: Our Environmental Education unit offers students the opportunity to investigate Mother Nature’s life cycles and explore and tend an all-season edible garden. In winter, children grow kale, squash, cabbage and carrots; in spring, tomatoes started indoors transition to the garden box, along with green beans and radishes. Then in the fall, children help to prep the soil and prepare it for the winter garden.
Problem-solving & community building
Meeting for Community: The ability to solve problems within a group setting starts with our youngest students. Children sit in a circle and learn to make good eye contact with each other as well as shake each other’s hands. We ask our children to address the highlights and low points from the week in order to work through a problem. Guided by our Quaker principles, children learn to truly listen to each other.
Gift of Words: A very special part of our FA Lower School program helps make each child feel loved and unique. On each student’s birthday, the children will bestow a gift of kind words. Each birthday girl or boy’s classmates will tell them one thing they really like about them and in this way we help build upon the strengths of the individual.
Children begin each day with mindful breathing and use sustained moments of silence throughout the school day to help children transition into other activities. Five- to ten-minute guided meditations before rest time settle children into a state of wonderful relaxation.
Director of Early Childhood and Lead Teacher
Kristin Minuto Pre-K Head Teacher
Pam Martocci – Playgroup Head Teacher
Tara Shapiro – PreK Teacher
Jody Gilston – Assistant Teacher
Michi Sefick – Assistant Teacher