Early Childhood Programs:
Nursery, Pre-K, Kindergarten
Friends’ Central's Mission – to cultivate the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical promise of our students – begins with the education of our youngest students in Nursery, Pre-K, and Kindergarten.
The Early Childhood Program at Friends’ Central offers a stimulating and nurturing environment where young children can grow - academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. We challenge children to expand their knowledge and imagination, hone their relationship skills, develop problem-solving abilities, and acquire independence and self-confidence.
Play-based and Joyful Learning
In Nursery, learning is play-based and joyful. Two highly qualified teachers in each Nursery section guide our youngest students through their first steps at Friends’ Central, encouraging play, exploration, pre-academic readiness, and social skills.
Within guided free play, teachers are intentional about the skills they want to nurture in their students, and they take every opportunity to observe individual needs and affinities so that they can tailor their teaching to suit each child.
Our youngest learners take all the Lower School “specials” – Spanish, art, music, physical education, and science. To begin their Language Arts journey, they keep journals where they practice “kid writing” - writing what they hear in order to begin to make connections between words and writing. Math is everywhere. The question of the day, for example, may ask students to look at paintings from different cultures and choose which one makes them the happiest. They then talk about which paintings were chosen the most and which the least.
The unit on Social Justice – a natural extension of the Quaker testimony of equality – teaches Nursery children to ask are all rules fair? and to have conversations about rules that are unfair. They learn about the giants of social justice, including Malala Yousafzai and Martin Luther King, Jr.. Perhaps most importantly, they learn that they themselves can be the agents of peaceful transformation.
You Can't Say You Can't Play
Our Pre-K curriculum is designed to develop creativity and problem-solving skills through interaction. There is an increased emphasis on skill building, and the academic curriculum starts to become a little more structured.
Learning through play remains key for Pre-K students. Equally important, they learn about being a good friend.
Imaginative play and learning are linked, and students build early literacy through reading independently and individually with teachers. Acting out stories and journal writing help students to stretch their early reading skills. Dress-ups, nature walks, singing, and participating in conversations with classmates and teachers encourage students to observe, listen, and synthesize new information.
Special classes in art, music, physical education, science, and Spanish enrich the day. Weekly visits to the Lower School library help foster an early love of books.
Laying the Foundation
In Kindergarten, there is lots of play balanced with a focus on preparing students for grade 1 and beyond.
Students’ early literacy flourishes as they master sound/symbol associations, write in their journals, read stories, and recite poetry. Math fluency develops as students learn to recognize numerals, explore spatial awareness through the use of manipulatives, create addition and subtraction sentences, and investigate the world of measurement. Teachers individualize instruction to meet the needs of each child. For example, children who come to Kindergarten reading are encouraged to grow their skills with a program designed for challenge.
Each Kindergarten classroom is staffed with two full-time, highly qualified teachers. Students meet regularly with specialists in art, computers, math, music, science, physical education, and library.