Friends School of Portland believes that education is holistic and seamless. As much as possible, we take an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Each year, classes take up an investigation of an overarching “essential question” which they explore from multiple angles. Within the broad strokes of the curriculum framework, teachers try to incorporate student interests as a way of nurturing curious and motivated learners. We design and choose learning experiences and materials that respect developmental stages; offer a multi-sensory, hands-on, inquiry-based approach to learning; and create opportunities for whole group, small group, and individual instruction. We set high expectations for students and faculty, incorporating research-based practice and integrating Quaker values. Within our cross-curricular approach, teachers attend to the core academic skills that are essential for students to acquire.
With the exception of Kindergarten, we group children in multi-age classes. We offer Preschool (3’s and 4’s), Kindergarten, Grade 1-2, Grade 3-4, Grade 5-6, and Grade 7-8.
Multi-age grouping benefits children by offering a family-like atmosphere where labeling by grade, age or skill level becomes irrelevant. It is natural that each student is at a different place than others in one or more aspects – as they are in single grade classes. What’s different and liberating is that we expect them to be. Whole group, small group and individualized instruction all fit into this setting. Social studies and science content follows a two-year rotation. Many common starting points of study are open-ended, allowing students a chance to progress to different degrees as appropriate. If feasible, children with similar skill levels will work together while their common needs are being addressed. Multi-age classes also offer a range of leadership opportunities for all children.