Guided by Quaker principles, our multidisciplinary curriculum is taught through a combination of structured activity and free exploration, which fosters children’s natural curiosity while providing them with the foundation needed for success in Kindergarten—and beyond.
Classes delve into topical units of group interest, and critical thinking is woven into every activity as children make observations, discuss them, problem-solve, and begin to understand how similarities and differences enhance the classroom community. Fostering a strong sense of self among our youngest learners reinforces positive self-esteem and respect for one another.
We place equal emphasis on a child’s ability to express his or her feelings and ideas in appropriate ways, as well as nurture their capacity to listen and take turns. We model the peaceful resolution of differences, and the importance of being a responsible and engaged member of the group.
The Early Childhood curriculum addresses the developmental skills that lead to Kindergarten readiness. This includes helping children sit and listen, focus, make thoughtful choices, follow multi-step directions, and self-regulate. We strive to work together, communicate often, and share our insights with parents and caregivers.
Areas of Focus
Emergent Literacy Concepts: Reader’s Workshop, storytime, creative dramatics, rhyming, and independent reading build a foundation for early literacy.
Emergent Math Concepts: Math Workshop, puzzles, sand, water, blocks, sorting, and cooking activities help to develop early math concepts.
Scientific Exploration: Children’s inherent curiosity is fostered through observations of nature and planned experiments, such as sinking and floating or freezing and melting, or engineering activities, such as blocks, weights, and pulleys.
Artistic Exploration: Creative expression is encouraged daily in the Art Center, where children can be found painting, drawing, and crafting with found objects, playdough, and other materials.
Children who enter our Early Childhood Program are in the beginning stages of discovering independence and developing friendships. They have a growing awareness of the world around them, and are learning how to formulate and share ideas.
The teachers address both group and individual needs while fostering and reinforcing emergent literacy and math skills. Curriculum varies year-to-year based on group dynamics, but the Quaker testimonies, particularly Community, are featured prominently in classroom studies. An integrated approach leads to cross-curricular exploration in literacy, numeracy, the arts, book writing, and dramatic play.
Great care goes into the formation of age-appropriate groups. Preschool students must be two years, seven months by September 1. Students entering the Pre-kindergarten year are typically four years old by September 1.
Music: Children learn about instrumental melodies, song, rhythm, tempo, dance, and expression through singing, movement, and playing instruments.
Library*: Each week, children have story time in the Friends Free Library, which includes a read aloud and time for free reading. At the end of each visit, every child selects a book to check out for the classroom library.
Art: Studio time is both structured and open-ended. An artist works with the children each week, exploring and discovering different materials and using them as a means of expression. Focusing on the basic elements of art provides children with the skills and language to create, explore, and discuss art forms well beyond their Early Childhood years. During art, the children typically engage in multi-session projects, such as portraiture, ceramics, and silk screening.
Movement: Taught by a pediatric physical therapist, these weekly sessions are tailored to the physical development of each class. The children are exposed to a variety of physical activities, such as yoga, parachute play, and obstacle courses. They experience the joy of moving and strengthen fundamental motor skills, gaining greater awareness and control of their bodies. Movement helps develop a positive attitude and appreciation for a lifetime of participation in regular physical activity.
Quakerism and Meeting for Worship
We are a Friends school, under the care of Germantown Monthly Meeting. Together, love and respect for each individual provide the premise for all we do. Children in the Early Childhood Program attend Meeting for Worship once a month. The classes come together to share a story or poem, then sit quietly and reflect on the message of the story for a few minutes. Children may share their thoughts with the group if they are so moved. We close each Meeting by shaking hands. Additionally, ECP students attend GFS’s annual All-School Meeting for Worship.
Children in the Early Childhood Program interact with students in all three divisions at GFS. They partner with Lower School classes for one-on-one weekly activities, and have the opportunity to play and engage with Middle School students in seventh and eighth grades. Additionally, ECP children may work individually or as a class with Upper School students through Big Sibs, a Directed Independent Study program.
*These programs are adapted for our Center City location.