United Friends School is committed to stellar academics within a Quaker framework. Small classes of no more than 16-18 students allow teachers to interact effectively with children of different ages and abilities. Peer teaching and mixed age groupings allow students to find their inner strengths. Our classroom curricula reflect our commitment to support students in developing a solid base of skills and knowledge, as well as maintaining their creative spirit through discovery and experimentation. We recognize and value different learning styles and intelligences of children, teaching styles of faculty, and life experiences of all members of the UFS community. Teachers actively participate in the development and revision of each curriculum area in correspondence with state and national standards.
The arts at UFS are integrated into the curriculum as an important learning tool. Our K-4 students receive weekly art instruction. Anthony and Helman-Osborn students receive twice weekly instruction by our Artist in Residence, Stacie Spear Scott. Stacie shares her expertise as a mixed media and collage artist who has been a featured artist on the Bucks County Elephant Eye Tour and exhibited around the country.
Under the direction of our music teachers, Michael Peragallo and Bethany Schwendy, music instruction at UFS takes place weekly for 4 year olds though 3rd grade and bi-weekly 4th through 8th grade. Students have a choice between band and choir. The teachers bring to their classrooms extensive knowledge of theory and performance, and in turn have developed a multifaceted program offering children experiences in singing, listening, performing, understanding, and creating music. Starting in 4th grade, all students participate in UFS’ instrumental program. Students can choose from a variety of string and wind instruments, many of them on-loan from the school’s extensive collection of musical instruments. Music is integrated into many school functions such as weekly Meeting for Worship, Meeting for Announcements, and Monday Music performances in the main lobby. Furthermore, each school year, the students take field trips to attend music events such as the Firebird Ballet at the Zoellner Arts Center, Jazz through History at Kutztown University and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Private music lessons and choral programs are offered in our Beyond the Classroom Program.
At UFS, the acquisition of the Spanish language is integrated into every class curriculum from preschool through eighth grade. Our Spanish teacher, Mina Martell-Bolme, brings to her classroom years of teaching experience and instills in her students the excitement of learning another language.
The library and technology programs support the school’s curricula and promote the love of reading and learning. The library curriculum is an extension of the Language Arts curriculum and follows the National Standards for Information Literacy and the Standards for 21st Century Learners. The library curriculum comprises three major areas: literature appreciation, library skills, and research and technology skills.
The role of technology is to provide tools that assist in student achievement, enhance access to information, strengthen communication, and meet special needs. Our school’s technology curriculum is integrated within all subjects and is taught and used as needed within context.
The UFS Physical Education program strives to create a warm and nurturing environment that allows students the freedom to explore and create a love for movement and play, as well as a sense of the best way to care for their bodies. Each class has a designated physical education time that ranges from ½ hour a week (for part time preschoolers) up to an hour or more. Elementary and Middle school students meet twice a week.
- To nurture the inner light in each child by fostering a community in which the spiritual aspect of daily activities is an integral part of the curriculum.
- To foster self-worth and respect for others.
- To provide the child with models for non-violent conflict resolution.
- To provide the child with a well-rounded experience in a loving atmosphere.
- To foster exploration, self-discipline, creativity, and a desire to learn.
- To offer active learning experiences that will develop the child’s abilities and interests at their own pace and in consideration of their strengths and challenges.
- To help the child in developing an awareness and concern for the needs of others, a sense of community, and a spirit of sharing.
- To collaborate with parents and caregivers in guiding the development of their child.
- To utilize, maintain and evaluate our curricula on an ongoing basis.
Mixed Age Groupings
Children learn not only from their teachers, but also from one another. The concept of multi-aged, multi-grade classes is certainly not new; however, UFS has redefined the notion, taking many factors into account when determining the composition of a class in any given year. This arrangement allows for some students to remain with the same teacher for two years as a positive educational experience, and sets up natural peer learning opportunities within the classroom due to the mix of ages, abilities, and maturity levels.
Benefits of Multi-grade, Mixed Age Classrooms:
- Encourages peer teaching and flexible learning opportunities in a cooperative environment in which students thrive.
- Encourages children to learn cooperatively rather than competitively.
- Provides a setting that is student-centered and rich in diverse learning styles, abilities, and points of views.
- Allows for peer teaching and flexible learning opportunities.
- More closely resembles real life situations and encourages children to develop their own expertise while becoming skilled nurturers.
- Often allows older students to assume the role of more knowledgeable, experienced, and responsible learners. In that role, they are continually reinforcing their knowledge while being challenged to advance to a new level. Younger children in a mixed age group have opportunities to learn from their older peers and to teach their “elders.”
- Benefits students who remain in the same class for two years with a teacher who knows their learning style, strengths and challenges.