Curriculum

CFS ACADEMICS

Chicago Friends School (CFS) offers a comprehensive academic program which provides a natural progression from the primary grades to upper elementary.  Teachers collaborate to integrate core academics with special subjects including environmental education, music and movement, art, and physical education. Technology is integrated at age-appropriate levels.

At CFS, children learn about themselves and their environment through direct experience.  Children actively engage with their learning to construct knowledge and develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, math and science process skills, and their innate capacity for creativity and innovation.   Differences are addressed through differentiated instruction.  Knowledgeable teachers monitor each child’s progress and from their observations, make plans and adjustments to promote each child’s development and learning.

Across subject areas, CFS is guided by the principles and recommended practices set forth by national organizations such as NAEYC, the International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and National Science Teacher Association.

QUAKER EDUCATION

Chicago Friends School curriculum is designed to fulfill the school’s unique Quaker mission.  There is no direct religious instruction; instead a Quaker education provides a values-based learning environment. Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service (SPICES) are woven into all aspects of school life and curriculum.  At CFS, children learn to reflect, question, and seek.  Children are encouraged to recognize, discuss and appreciate diversity, and to be active citizens and advocates for social justice.  Service learning opportunities are integrated. Environmental education fosters a sense of respect and reverence for the natural world and prepares students to become responsible citizens and stewards of the earth.

In the daily life of school, the testimonies are interwoven and lived out throughout the day.

SIMPLICITY: At CFS, careful use of resources models simplicity. Also, helping children to be aware of the seasons of the earth, understand the growing season of food, how their food is grown, and how to prepare it are some other ways in which the Quaker testimony of simplicity is taught.

PEACE: Peace is cultivated within individuals and the school community through interaction with others. CFS believes in nurturing children and managing behavior with developmental understanding and compassion to promote the best social and emotional outcomes and to promote in children a caring and compassionate spirit.

INTEGRITY: Integrity is cultivated through teacher, child and family relationships grounded in honesty and mutual respect. Children are given opportunities to express concerns and differing opinions. By valuing each child’s input and responding genuinely to concerns, teachers model integrity and encourage children to be honest with each other and themselves.

COMMUNITY & SERVICE: Creating a nurturing and warm atmosphere is central to building community within the school. Outside of school, volunteer projects strengthen children’s relationship with the wider community. These projects also build self-esteem and connect curriculum to action in the world, reflecting the Quaker tradition of putting one’s beliefs into action.

EQUALITY: CFS follows the Quaker understanding that we should answer to that of God in each individual. Children learn that everyone should be treated with fairness and dignity. In keeping with Quaker custom, all in the school community refer to each other by first names.

MEETING FOR WORSHIP

Children and faculty gather weekly in shared silence to allow time for listening to the Spirit, reflection and thoughtful sharing. By providing time for outer and inner stillness, we nurture each child on his or her own spiritual journey. In addition, regular community meeting for worship allows children and faculty to develop a sense of community and unity of purpose.

MULTIAGE CLASSROOMS

Chicago Friends School utilizes a multiage classroom to provide a family atmosphere to support our Quaker values. In our multiage classrooms, teachers approach each child from a developmental perspective focusing on each child’s next steps. A multiage environment is supportive of continuous learning and conducive to active student involvement and student-initiated learning. Within a multiage setting, opportunities for enhancement and reinforcement of learning are provided. Younger children learn from the older children and older children have an opportunity to take on a leadership role and share their knowledge.

Research supports that students in multiage classrooms show increased self esteem, more cooperative behavior, better attitudes toward school in general, increased pro-social behavior (caring, tolerant, patient, supportive), enriched personal responsibility, and a decline in discipline problems.

PROJECT-BASED LEARNING

In project-based learning, teachers guide children through an in-depth study of real world topics. Successful project-based learning results in children who are highly motivated, feel actively involved in their own learning, and produce work of a high quality.

GRADING

Children are evaluated continuously using multiple measures including written narratives and samples of student work. Knowledgeable teachers observe and assess each child’s progress along a developmental continuum. Progress is shared with parents through reports and conferences.

Please follow this link for a pdf of our Curriculum Overview.