"By engaging each child in student-centered, hands-on learning, Friends Academy teaches real-world skills to our youngest learners, including communication, inquiry, interpretation, analysis, and problem-solving. This strong foundation provides our students the tools they need to evolve from curiosity to creativity, all while maintaining wonder and awe for the world around them."
–Dot Woo, Lower School Principal
Lower School (Grades K-4)
The Lower School years are filled with curiosity, exploration, and scholarship. At Friends Academy, these fundamental years ensure that children grow with a solid sense of self, a passion for learning, and a curiosity for life that inspires them to approach new opportunities with confidence and purpose.
Grades K-4 engage in challenging curriculum that lays the foundation for their academic and emotional acumen in Middle School and beyond.
Our Friends Academy Difference
Through our Quaker approach to education, our Lower School curriculum empowers students to cultivate the important skills of inquiry, reflection, and engagement – both in and out of the classroom – so that they can become creative and collaborative problem-solvers in an ever-changing world.
Our Quaker Approach in Lower School
Quaker schools are known across the country for their longstanding tradition of educational excellence. At Friends Academy, Quaker values live in every aspect of a child's day-to-day experience, elevating our academic program in a way that is unique to the only K-12 Friends school on Long Island.
Because asking questions is foundational to Quakerism, our learning is largely inquiry-based, empowering students to think critically about real-world situations. Quaker education focuses on process rather than product, and mistakes are learning opportunities that foster analytical thinking and creative problem-solving, intellectual growth, and perseverance.
Lower School 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.
At Friends Academy, the study of Mathematics is much more than arithmetic. By instituting a Problem Solving Approach to Mathematics, sometimes referred to as the CPA Approach (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract), children learn to construct their own meaning and develop personalized strategies in order to solve problems. For any problem, even in math, there are multiple pathways that lead to solutions.
At Friends Academy, math is viewed as a language – one that is investigative, descriptive, evaluative and creative. Students work individually and collaboratively to learn that multiple strategies will often lead to a solution. The role of the teacher is to assist students in reaching a conclusion; it is not to offer a singular strategy but to guide and stretch students as they develop their own strategies.
As a result, our students at Friends Academy deeply understand mathematics beyond the surface level and feel prepared and empowered to take on rich challenges in math and in other disciplines.
At Friends Academy, we believe the ability to communicate in ways that are effective and compelling, both verbally and in writing, is an essential and foundational skill.
Pre-K through Grade 3 utilizes Wilson Fundations, a renowned and highly engaging approach, which lays the foundational building blocks for readers and writers. Readers and Writers Workshop (Grades K-4) fosters children's love of language and supports children's growth as they become critical and analytical readers who joyfully engage with texts. Our children also develop their writer's "voice" by studying the crafts and techniques of authors while also internalizing the writer's process.
Literacy is emphasized throughout every discipline in our Lower School curriculum, as children read and write for a variety of purposes and audiences.
In Lower School science, students are encouraged to formulate and ask questions, investigate real-life problems and develop connections to the natural world through a phenomenon-based approach to learning. Science and engineering practices are used to explain phenomena and design solutions to the problems at hand. Through a process of sense-making and evidence-based reasoning, students learn to engage in scientific debate.
Our pedagogical approach and curriculum, Amplify Science, is the only program aligned with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). At each grade level, students explore a range of topics in earth, physical, and biological sciences. By encouraging students’ natural curiosities, our science faculty are able to use student-generated interests and questions to support scientific inquiry and instruction.
In Lower School Social Studies, we employ an inquiry-based approach that empowers students to ask questions in which they are invested, explore and research complex material, share and present ideas, and design and apply solutions while reflecting throughout the creative process.
Our curriculum explores a breadth of topics, including human identity – where students carefully consider their role as both individuals and as members of their local and global communities. Children also examine the history of Quakerism, immigration, Native Indigenous people on Long Island, and European settlement on Long Island. Students study primary source documents to understand historical events from multiple perspectives while honing their understanding of various research methods.
World Language Program
Our World Language Program begins in Play Group with the exploration of Spanish. Through the Organic World Language Approach (OWL), students engage in a multisensory environment, including dance, music, and role-play.
OWL encourages students to better understand and appreciate different cultures and influential figures across Spanish-speaking countries. Exposure to different ways of thinking, speaking, and communicating allow students to understand and appreciate global cultures from an early age.
Lower School Computer classes begin with a focus on how to use our one-to-one devices as learning tools (iPads in PreK-2 and Chromebooks in grades 3-4). Computer science skills are introduced through immersive, hands-on experiences, including analog and digital early coding games and manipulatives like Ozobot robots. As students progress through the grades, they learn to curate and display their work in portfolios built on Google sites. Students are also introduced to how their use of technology can impact their world, learning about topics such as cyber-safety and digital citizenship.
The Arts in Lower School live in an atmosphere of encouragement, enthusiasm, and acceptance. We want each student to feel inspired, curious, and free to explore their imaginations.
In the visual arts, students engage and experiment with a wide range of materials and processes which allow them to discover their creative potential.
In music, we use national standards as our guide as students develop their musical skills. Our ensemble experiences in music provide students with opportunities to work cooperatively and gain a deeper understanding of themselves in relationship with others.
In Dance, our students explore structured and intuitive movements as a means of discovering their relationship to the world, as well as supporting their physical development.
Our arts curriculum is interdisciplinary, with arts teachers working closely with grade-level teachers to support the physical, cognitive, personal, and interpersonal development of each child.
The Physical Education program at Friends Academy builds a lifelong appreciation of the connection between fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Students enjoy a broad and diverse physical education curriculum that includes skill development, fitness, and traditional sports.
In the Lower School, students attend weekly Meeting for Worship or engage in Worship Sharing. During Meeting for Worship, students gather in silence to reflect on a query. Students who are moved to share a message may stand and address the group. Worship Sharing provides a similar, but less formal, space for students to express their ideas.
Coming in Fall 2021, our youngest learners will engage in our Forest School. Situated in a wooded area on our 65-acre campus, our Forest School-inspired program will ignite our students' curiosity as they navigate a natural environment, fostering problem-solving skills and a deeper understanding of environmental science and conservation.
Service learning is a cornerstone of a Quaker education. Starting with our youngest learners, students are involved in ongoing initiatives and interactions that foster "caring service" to others in the classroom, at school, and in the community.
Based on the highly successful Entrepreneurial Studies program piloted in our Upper School, the Lower School will embed the foundational concepts of entrepreneurialism – such as analytical thinking, innovation, and solving real-world challenges – into the curriculum beginning in Fall 2021.
At Friends Academy, we support the personalized learning and development of each child – academically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. In addition to our highly trained faculty, our unique Student Success Team at Friends Academy includes learning specialists, school counselors, and a Lower School Dean of Student Affairs.