Pre-K through 4th Grade
Our elementary school provides an academically challenging curriculum with the flexibility to meet the needs of younger students. Small student-teacher ratios are crucial to our approach, which begins on each child's level, provides appropriate learning challenges and recognizes the gifts that each child brings. Two full-time teachers in each class work to instill self-confidence in each student while also requiring that he or she recognizes the needs of others. There is a balance of freedom and discipline in the classroom. Conflict resolution, creative problem solving and mediation are central to the educational experience.
The youngest classes learn through a developmentally appropriate curriculum that explores math, reading and writing through manipulative materials and firsthand experiences. Science, social studies and geography are interwoven in exciting unit studies. Older elementary students pursue a cross-curricular program that integrates science, language arts, social studies and geography while they hone the reading, writing, spelling and math skills they use every day.
Physical education, art, music, library/media and Spanish are important additions to the week. Field trips are chosen for their ability to enrich classroom study units. Students also plan and participate in service learning units and projects that help them contribute to the needs of their expanded community and teach them the importance of responsible action.
A handbook of the curriculum will always be a “work in progress,” a phrase that describes many aspects of schools with dynamic vision. We invite your comments so we can continue to provide a clear and useful guide.
The curriculum at The Friends School of Atlanta is guided by the Mission Statement, which embodies Friends values (testimonies), and by developmentally appropriate practice. We believe that in educating children we are guiding them toward an awareness and appreciation of their own uniqueness. For this reason, our curriculum is concerned with all aspects of human development: intellectual, moral, aesthetic, physical, social and emotional. The process by which children learn is as important to us as what they learn.
Academic excellence is the ultimate goal, as we help each child discover the full range of her or his abilities. Teaching new ideas and skills helps us attain that goal by providing a link between the child’s present interests and abilities and his or her innate capacities. We want our students to appreciate that knowledge and understanding open countless possibilities for their lives. In the words of William Damon, now at Stanford University School of Education, and nationally renowned thinker on the moral development of children:
Children do best—intellectually, personally, morally—when they are striving for excellence. Any activity that encourages children to strive for excellence will enhance their motivation to learn, and any instruction that shows them how to achieve excellence will advance their competence. Children are inspired, not stressed, when faced with challenging tasks. They crave the chance to achieve something meaningful.
Student evaluation, both formative and summative, occurs daily at the Friends School. One of the most important forms is observation and interaction with each student. During the year, student progress is shared with parents in several ways: September goal-setting conferences; narrative and descriptive evaluations and checklists that define how well a student has met curriculum expectations; parent conferences and student portfolios.
In keeping with the Quaker value of equality, we do not promote that which would set students against each other. As such, the Friends School does not use standardized tests or give grades in the elementary program to measure progress. Instead, our evaluation methods reflect the achievements and areas of growth for each individual student. Evaluations show students how much each has learned rather than how their progress compares to others in the class.
Although we do not require standardized testing, as a service to parents we offer optional standardized testing twice a year for a separate fee.
Historically, our students have performed well on standardized tests and transitioned well into various metro-area high schools or boarding schools.