Early Elementary K-2nd Grade Overview

Individualized Instruction meets students where they are – academically, socially, and developmentally – and challenges them to their next level. Small (2-5 student) reading and math are groups are formed by readiness rather than age. Students learn in many formats, including whole group, small group, and in individual conferences.

Relevant Skills and subjects are not learned in isolation, but through meaningful, purposeful, and authentic learning opportunities. Lessons build on students’ interests and strengths. Students can direct their own learning through inquiry- and project-based activities. Real-world experiences such as work in our garden, service, and field trips connect the classroom with real life.

Whole-Child We know that a student’s social, creative, and emotional growth is just as important as intellectual growth. Perseverance, assertiveness, self-control, growth mindset, and cooperation are taught explicitly and promoted through social interaction, play, and collaboration with peers. Students find many opportunities to direct their own activity, interact with the outdoor environment, and create, imagine, and explore. We offer daily extended outdoor recess and classroom time for imaginary play.


Language Arts development is fundamental to students’ intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Our students learn to effectively communicate their ideas, opinions, and experiences in oral and written form, and appreciate the language and literature.

Math in early elementary builds skills needed for more advanced topics, while also establishing underlying mathematical concepts and reasoning. Our goal is to draw connections, support the thinking process, and instill comprehensive understanding. Chicago Friends School uses Singapore Math as our math curriculum.

Social Studies is intended to enable students to understand who they are, where they come from, where they belong, and how they can contribute to the society in which they live. The curriculum also broadens understanding and appreciate the cultural diversity that exists in the world and strives to represent all voices.

Science engages students in active explorations of life, physical and earth science topics, and helps them make connections to the natural world around them. Our inquiry-based approach helps students make observations, ask thought-provoking questions, reflect on and discuss their findings with others while learning about the world around them. Service Learning enhances community building and provides students with authentic opportunities to make a positive impact on a local, national, and global level. Students are immersed in rich, ethics-related conversations and projects generated from literature, classroom interactions, and student experiences. Meaningful, actionable service projects are conducted throughout the year.

Music at Chicago Friends School fosters a love and appreciation of music through singing, listening and movement. Through the Dalcroze approach, children learn about rhythm, notation, harmony style, and interpretation. The social skills of listening, taking turns, and supporting other children’s efforts are emphasized as children experience the joy of cooperative music-making.

Visual Arts lessons help our student-artists gain experience with a variety of art materials, tools, and techniques. The program encourages students to experiment with line, shape, form, color, texture, pattern, and composition through a variety of media. We honor each young artist’s ideas by looking at and talking about art with sensitivity for the feelings of others.

Movement and Mindfulness at Chicago Friends School recognizes that movement is a cornerstone of a child’s early life. As children develop greater motor coordination and athletic proficiency, their body awareness, and self-esteem increase. Our gym program promotes the importance of cooperation, good sportsmanship, and fair play, and yoga lessons promote mindfulness, control, and relaxation.