At Friends Academy, we know beginnings matter. Our Quaker approach and Reggio Emilia-inspired program elevate the foundational academic and social building blocks – necessary for a highly successful transition to Lower School.
"A child’s first introduction to school should provide them with hands-on experiences, activate their creativity, and deepen their ability to express individuality in their own unique way."
– Kristin Minuto, Director of Early Childhood
Creating a culture of inquiry, engagement, and reflection begins in Early Childhood. Our emergent curriculum deepens students’ learning by centering around their interests and captivating their imaginations. Our best-practice approach build a strong foundation for our youngest learners.
Our Quaker Approach to Education
Empowered and strengthened by our Quaker values, inquiry, exploration, dynamic investigation, and reflection are the basis for all learning in the Friends Academy Early Childhood program. We believe children learn best when they are passionate, motivated, and engaged in their learning.
Through hands-on experiences, we guide them to develop critical thinking skills such as problem-solving, perseverance, the ability to express themselves, and to value the voices and ideas of others.
Our Early Childhood program uses Responsive Classroom, which is an evidence-based approach to teaching and learning that puts students at the center of their academic and social journey.
Its guiding principles focus on how we teach versus what we teach, cognitive growth, and building relationships. This approach recognizes that the deepest learning happens when both social/emotional and academic learning are prioritized.
As part of Responsive Classroom, children gather each day to greet each other, make eye contact, shake hands, communicate and share their thoughts. These simple but powerful actions help children learn what inclusion looks like in action, practicing care, kindness, and belonging.
Reggio Emilia Curriculum
Our Reggio Emilia curriculum is a student-centered and nature-based approach to teaching that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments. We begin with an essential question that sparks children’s interest in a topic, and then encourages them to generate their own ideas, making their way to the answer through question and collaboration.
Using both repurposed materials and those found in nature, ignites our children's creativity and deepens their awareness of the world around them.
This approach allows children to use their sense of wonder to explore the different questions and solutions at hand. As a result, our youngest students develop the critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills necessary to enter the next phase of life.
Our Emergent curriculum puts the power of learning in the children's hands as they give voice to their imagination and wonderings. Through their excitement and enthusiasm for a topic, we create a sophisticated curriculum that teaches key themes and critical thinking skills.
Emergent curriculum leverages students' natural curiosity and interests to build active engagement, thereby cultivating a love of learning and collaboration. Emergent curriculum helps students take initiative and ownership of their learning.
An Introduction to Literacy
In Playgroup, children are given the opportunity to create letters before they’re ready to write them on paper. Learning about letters through shapes and physical application helps students gain valuable cognitive abilities that will assist them with their developing fine motor skills.
In Pre-K, the Fundations Writing approach evolves our students' literacy as they are formally introduced to letters and their sounds, and encouraged to recognize and write letters in a print-rich environment.
Building phonemic skills prepares them for a successful transition to Kindergarten.
The Early Childhood Science Curriculum, integrated throughout the school day, is Reggio Emilia-inspired and fosters the “scientist” in each child. Children explore, investigate, experiment, and predict both inside and outside of the classroom using both natural and repurposed materials.
Students are challenged to dive deeper into topics, including light and sound, matter, weather phenomena, the water cycle, and exploration of plant and animal ecosystems.
Our Early Childhood Mathematics program is committed to differentiating and enriching children's experiences by meeting them where they are in their development.
Our program helps our youngest learners build and strengthen their numeracy skills and number sense through number recognition and awareness, patterning, graphing, data collection, age-appropriate reasoning, and real-world problem-solving. Students are also provided an early introduction to addition and subtraction.
Our hands-on collaborative approach encourages students to use natural and repurposed manipulatives to deepen their critical thinking and analytical skills.
Block play is emphasized throughout the day, creating a space for the children to be creative, explorative, imaginative, and inventive. Block play encourages spatial awareness, socialization, shape recognition, cause and effect, and imaginative play scenarios.
Children utilize early engineering skills through the conception and execution of their "build." This helps teach students early mathematical literacy concepts and understanding. Block play also encourages children to learn the important analytical skills of prediction and expands their vocabulary as they communicate with each other in collaboration.
Appreciating different cultures from an early age helps students understand the importance of becoming a global citizen. Our Spanish Language Program focuses on the aural-oral approach to language learning, which integrates rhymes, music, songs, games, storybooks, fingerplay, and movement to help children learn the Spanish language in an age-appropriate manner.
Authors, famous storytellers, dancers, and other cultural performers are invited to the school to teach our students about the artist aspect of cultural inclusion. Students of all ages have the opportunities to engage with these artists and learn more about other backgrounds and traditions through the personal and professional expressions of their homelands.
The Early Childhood Arts program at Friends Academy is grounded in curating opportunities for our youngest artists to explore the ways that their physical body, personal voice, and unique imagination interact with the world around them. Our approach is guided by the Reggio Emilio philosophy of immersion, integration, and the lived experience of engaging in the world around you through curiosity and exploration.
In Visual Arts, experiences are grounded in skills that are specific to personal storytelling and mark-making while learning how to be stewards of our creative spaces and utilize and care for tools and materials.
Each day in our Early Childhood program at Friends Academy, children paint, sing, count, graph, share, and explore nature. Students develop readiness skills in literacy, numeracy, and physical and social-emotional development through hands-on experiences that allow them to play, investigate, and create.
Children participate in Music Together, a multicultural program that promotes and embraces diversity through singing songs. Our Creative Movement class combines different movement challenges that teach children dance expression and strengthen cognitive understanding of physical patterns.
Simplicity, peaceful resolution of conflict, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship are the foundation on which we deepen our academic excellence, as well as honor the inner light in each child.
Beginning in Fall 2021, our ground-breaking Forest School program (the only one in Nassau County) opens for Early Childhood students. A place where the curriculum is nature, the Forest School will feature sensory and pollinator gardens, as well as a dry stream swale – allowing students to observe science in real time, think critically, and stretch their imaginations.
In Early Childhood, our youngest learners practice mindfulness daily, learning how to settle their bodies and calm their minds to transition between activities, regulate their emotions, and deepen their academic focus.