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Why Early Childhood at Friends Academy?

Children in Early Childhood benefit from the best of all worlds: the Farmhouse’s intimate, home-like setting; Friends Academy’s “big school” facilities including a gymnasium, art studio, library, and musical instruments; and a beautiful 65-acre campus of woods and fields to explore. Students and their families become part of a friendly Farmhouse community made up of parents and caregivers who are truly invested in their children’s early education.

Friends Academy’s Reggio Emilia-inspired approach to Early Childhood empowers students to use their natural curiosity to observe, research, analyze, ask questions, and solve problems. Students are seen as capable learners who are full of potential and able to affect change. This powerful image of the child is at the heart of everything at the Farmhouse.

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    Slide 1: Outdoor exploration and play are at the core of the Farmhouse experience. Through investigating nature, students become open to the world around them and use it as a source of inspiration to learn.
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    Slide 2: Students regularly spend time on our 65-acre campus – stomping in puddles after a fresh rain, digging and planting in the garden, playing in the grassy fields, and exploring the campus vernal pool. Children in the Farmhouse develop a powerful sense of place and discover what it means to live in relationship with nature and a community.
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    Slide 3: Nature isn’t restricted to the outdoors. The Farmhouse interior is brimming with natural materials and nature-inspired artwork and literature. In Studio, students connect their outdoor experiences to artistic studies – like using grass and straw to build nests and imprinting the shapes of shells and leaves into clay.
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    Slide 4: Teachers frequently use students’ natural curiosity about the outdoors as an entry point into lessons about language arts, math, and social studies – such as reading stories about the underground relationships of trees and fungi, or using leaves to explore the science of human veins and skin colors.
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    Slide 5: Specialists often tie in Farmhouse lessons to their classes over in the “big school” – like writing a song inspired by the campus beech tree and making rolled-wool acorns in art.

Operating under the Farmhouse’s three foundational rules – be kind, be safe, and include everybody – students develop strong relationship skills that connect them with their peers, their teachers, and the world around them. They are given the freedom to develop their ideas, interests, and confidence, leading to a strong sense of belonging, community, and trust in themselves and others. By the time they venture from the Farmhouse to Kindergarten, students have matured into creative, critical thinkers who are prepared to take the next step in their learning journey.

Details About Early Childhood

  • Early Childhood is a five day per week program. Half-day (8am-12pm) and full-day (8am-3pm) options are available, as well as early arrivals (starting at 7:30am) and optional after-school care (until 5pm).
  • Early Childhood follows the school calendar, including all holidays and breaks.
  • Children must be 3 years old as of September 1 and fully toilet trained.

Features of the Early Childhood Experience

  • Two Early Childhood students pour water on a cement sidewalk and react to the runoff.

    Learning Through Play

    The Farmhouse encourages curiosity through open-ended play and experimentation. Play helps young children discover their passions and strengthen their “people skills” (such as empathy, communication, and conflict resolution).

  • A fifth grade student reads to two Early Childhood students.

    Relationships with Older Students

    Through service learning and other classroom opportunities, the Farmhouse gets regular visits from their “big friends” who read with them, play with them on the playground, and build community across grades.

  • Early Childhood students explore in the woods wearing colorful all-weather suits.

    Campus Adventures

    Early Childhood students don’t just stay on their own playground – they regularly take adventures through woods and fields on our 65-acre campus. You might spot them hiking around in colorful all-weather suits!

  • Early Childhood students dig in the sand area on their playground.

    Farmhouse Playground

    The Farmhouse opens up to a fenced-in playground built specifically for young children. It has slides, swings, climbing structures, a stage, and a large digging area – all nestled amidst mature trees and the campus garden.

  • An Early Childhood student holds an ice cream truck they created in art class.

    Music, Art, Library, and PE

    Early Childhood students take part in a special each day over in the “big school.” These are taught by the same experienced faculty who teach all Lower School specials.

  • A student writes letters with a marker in the Farmhouse.

    Afternoon Literacy

    Students who stay for extended day and do not need to nap take part in an interactive afternoon literacy program to strengthen their letter recognition and writing skills before Kindergarten.

  • An Early Childhood student sits in All-School Meeting.

    Inclusion in Larger School Community

    Between specials and All-School Meeting, Early Childhood students venture from the Farmhouse to the “big school” each day, where they are included as a vital part of the entire school community.

  • A Farmhouse student takes a literacy assessment on an iPad.

    Early Literacy Screenings

    All Early Childhood students entering Kindergarten are screened for early signs of reading difficulties, which gives them a head start on literacy support before they even learn to read.

Meet the Early Childhood Team

The Early Childhood team at Friends Academy includes classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators. They work together to get to know each child personally and create a comprehensive, interdisciplinary education.

  • Hallie Davis

    Hallie Davis

    Early Childhood Teacher
  • Amy Peckham

    Amy Peckham

    Early Childhood Teacher
  • Marissa Vargas

    Marissa Vargas

    Early Childhood Teacher
  • Cheryle Walker-Hemingway

    Cheryle Walker-Hemingway

    Early Childhood Teacher
  • Susan Cogliano, Lower School Art Teacher

    Susan Cogliano

    Lower School Art Teacher
  • Tanner McMullen, Lower School Music Teacher

    Tanner McMullen

    Lower School Music Teacher
  • Ann Richard

    Ann Richard

    Interim Librarian
  • Grace Rodrigues

    Lower School Physical Education Teacher
  • Jamie Ross-Cory, Head of Lower School

    Jamie Ross-Cory

    Head of Lower School

Start Your Child’s Early Childhood Application

Submit an inquiry or begin an application for your child today. Students must be three years old by Sept. 1 to start Early Childhood.

Early Childhood Curriculum

Using the Reggio Emilia Approach, Early Childhood students lead their own learning through play and exploration. Teachers listen to the children’s questions, support their ideas, and watch their thoughts develop and evolve over time. By following the children’s lead in this way, teachers create a harmonious curriculum that integrates language, math, science, and social sciences.

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Language Arts

  • Build phonemic awareness and an understanding of letters and writing.
  • Develop early literacy concepts such as making connections, using context clues, and predicting outcomes.
  • Explore and enjoy a variety of forms of literature including stories and poetry, and use books to provoke new learning.
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Mathematics

  • Strengthen mathematical skills including problem-solving, reasoning, critical thinking, and using different ways to solve problems through inquiry-based investigations.
  • Identify numbers and practice counting, estimating, measuring, and finding patterns and relationships.
  • Develop an understanding of concepts such as greater/less than, shape, size, symmetry, and distribution of weight.
  • Design using architectural elements and constructing with physical materials.
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Social Studies

  • See themselves in relationship to family, other children, teachers, the school community, and the community at large, and view themselves as a valued contributor to their groups.
  • Develop an appreciation for people’s similarities and differences and learn to consider multiple perspectives.
  • Lead with curiosity and become active participants in caring for their communities.
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Science

  • Identify a variety of natural life and phenomena, including animals, plants and fungi, habitats, fossils, the water cycle, and metamorphosis of caterpillars and tadpoles.
  • Discover the interconnectedness of our world, the requirements of life, and the importance of protecting the environment.
  • Strengthen powers of exploration, experimentation, observation, investigation, prediction, collaboration, reflection.
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Physical Education

  • Promote physical activity and the benefits of healthy living.
  • Develop movement skills – including locomotor movements, ball manipulative skills, and dance/gymnastics – and understand when to apply skills in game play.
  • Practice life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, respect, taking turns, following directions, and communicating with peers.
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Art

  • Identify the basic elements of art (such as lines, colors, shapes, and textures) in two- and three-dimensional forms
  • Explore artistic methods and materials (including drawing, painting, clay, textiles, printmaking, and construction)
  • to communicate ideas, express emotions, and make connections to the natural world around them
  • Discuss, plan, and brainstorm ideas; demonstrate effort and progress; and share thoughts and listen respectfully
  • Maintain proper care of tools and materials
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Music

  • Develop a foundation in music through singing, listening, chants, movement, and improvisation.
  • Learn about musical traditions of the world and the role of music in various holidays and cultures.
  • Identify characteristics of music by ear.
  • Develop singing skills such as pitch matching, melody, and round singing.
  • Practice songwriting skills.
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Library

  • Instill basic concepts of being a good library citizen, including appropriate library behavior, sharing materials, and borrowing and returning books.
  • Help students get to know themselves as readers by exposing them to many different books and authors.