Individualized instruction

Students are not standardized and neither is our instruction. In order to help students develop to their best potential, we offer instruction that challenges students to learn at their own developmental and skill level.

  • The average student-to-teacher ratio is 10:1. This offers teachers the opportunity to get to know each student well and customize approaches.
  • Instruction in math and reading takes place in groups of two to five students. Groups are determined by ability level rather than chronological age or grade, optimizing learning opportunities for each child.

High expectations

High expectations coupled with a consistently supportive environment help students grow to their fullest self and prepare for a life of purpose.

  • We align instruction to grade level expectations in the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.
  • In all instruction, we not only teach knowledge and skills but also engage students in higher-level thinking and reflection.
  • We expect students to engage in planning and independent work, building skills for lifelong learning and achievement.
  • Weekly and daily reflection help students to consider how to live peacefully and in community with each other and the world.


We help students to maintain a positive, noncompetitive attitude towards learning.

  • Mixed-aged classrooms and team approaches allow students to collaborate across age and ability levels without competition.
  • A growth mindset focuses students on how they can continually improve rather than how they compare to others.

Authentic assessment

Frequent informal assessments allow us to understand where students are and fine-tune instruction, making sure that each student has the opportunity to achieve mastery and can move on once ideas are grasped.

  • K-5 students receive detailed progress reports, rather than grades.
  • Frequent communication with parents helps them to be partners in learning and development.
  • Instructional time is used for learning, not testing. Standardized testing does not happen until middle school.

Preparation for life beyond K-8

Our middle school program includes letter grades and standardized tests and an increased emphasis on individual responsibility for learning and completion of tasks. This is to prepare students for the academic expectations of high school and beyond.

  • Older students are introduced to objective criteria for their work through detailed rubrics that help them understand the criteria by which they are assessed.
  • Homework and individual responsibility take on an increasing role in these grades.

Other sections in Program & Curriculum

Classroom and School Culture


Engaged Learning

Annual Instructional Theme

A Day at Chicago Friends School

Before and After School

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