Friends School of Minnesota’s lower school is a joyful place. Visitors on tours often comment that they wish they could enroll in kindergarten again.
Our progressive education classrooms are rich and inviting environments that engage all kinds of learners. Teachers create spaces that allow movement, exploration and quiet concentration. Peek in a lower school classroom and you might see students building block towers, performing a play, writing in journals, or experimenting with magnets.
There are cozy places to curl up with a book, nooks to write a play with a partner, messy areas to paint a picture, and outdoor spaces to play. Every classroom has a community gathering place to share, listen, sing, and laugh. And classes often venture forth for a nature hike, a trip to a museum, or a class overnight.
Our small lower school classes (16-18) ensure that every child’s strengths and challenges are well known and addressed. Our K-8 community is about 168 students so we know each other pretty well.
As a Quaker school, the values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality are woven into every aspect of the curriculum and the day-to-day life of the school.
We seek many kinds of diversity in our students, faculty, and staff and believe diversity makes our community stronger. But learning to work together as a community takes time and effort every single day. Beginning in kindergarten, students participate in our conflict resolution program. We teach and model how to treat each other with respect, resolve differences and appreciate diverse points of view. Many visitors comment how welcoming FSM feels and that it is “just like a school should be.”
Lower School Classrooms
There are five classrooms in the lower school, which is kindergarten through fourth grade. Our kindergarten classroom, The Mississippi, is a single grade class. The other four classrooms are mixed-age, which provide students with broader social and academic opportunities, and allow cooperative, community learning to flourish.
Students stay with a teacher for two years, making it possible for teachers to really know each child’s strengths and challenges. There are two first and second grade classrooms, The Jungle and The Prairie, and two third and fourth grade classrooms, The Bayou and the Tundra.
We strive to maintain a diversity of students in every classroom and classes are balanced by gender, personality, interests, academic level, and learning style. Class sizes range from 16-18 students.
Each lower school classroom has a classroom teacher with whom students spend most of the day. Classroom teachers, supported by teaching assistants or classroom aides, teach the core subjects of language arts, social studies, science, and math, and integrate the arts in various ways throughout the year.
Visual arts and music are also taught by specialist teachers one and two times a week. Spanish and physical education are taught three times a week by specialists. After kindergarten, all lower school subjects are taught in mixed-age groups except for math, which is taught by single grade school-wide.