The Princeton Friends School curriculum reflects our school’s deeply held commitment to honoring individual voice and engaging every mind. It speaks to an emerging consensus among educational theorists that in today’s world, successful schools graduate students with a host of intellectual and personal capabilities.

As part of every child’s experience at Princeton Friends School, there is a dedicated and compassionate faculty and staff, working to teach and instill in students the following:
  • a strong and positive sense of who they are as learners and as social beings;
  • a deep understanding of and competence within the traditional academic disciplines;
  • skills in abstract critical thinking and synthesizing ideas across disciplines;
  • creativity and innovative thinking;
  • the ability to communicate effectively and persuasively;
  • the ability and inclination to collaborate and to contribute to the broader community;
  • a global understanding, appreciation, and perspective;
  • comfort with and commitment to ongoing learning;
  • a clear ethical sense informed by Quaker values and testimonies.

List of 2 items.

  • How We Learn and Teach

    We believe that children (and adults!) naturally want to learn, if offered the right environment. As expressed in our school’s core value of Lifelong Learning, we hold that the search for knowledge, understanding, and truth is an experiential, constructivist, collaborative, and transformative enterprise.

    We recognize that people are intrinsically motivated to be authentically engaged in learning by the following psychological forces:
    • innate curiosity and intellectual challenge;
    • the drive for competence or mastery, to be one of those who “can do;”
    • the desire for autonomy and independence;
    • the need to belong and make connections with others.
    In order for students to engage in learning, construct knowledge, and acquire requisite concepts and skills, they must be presented with classroom experiences that allow them to:
    • be mentally active, making connections and formulating hypotheses;
    • link new understanding to what they already know;
    • engage in collaboration;
    • participate in in-depth, structured reflection.
    Following from these understandings, at PFS we provide the following for our students:
    • a faith in each student’s capacity to learn combined with our commitment to address individual learning needs and styles;
    • an atmosphere of high expectations and low competition;
    • an interdisciplinary curriculum organized around a common theme, planned and carried out collaboratively across the grades through direct, hands-on experiences;
    • open-ended assignments and projects that invite engagement at all developmental and skill levels;
    • a faculty deeply and lovingly committed to the success of all students;
    • a long view of student progress, including a “ramp” of gradually increasing expectations;
    • a high degree of collaboration between teachers and parents.
  • How We Assess

    At Princeton Friends School, we believe learning is a nonlinear, cyclical process. As students progress through the grades in the various disciplines, they encounter similar concepts, content, and skills at ever-increasing levels of sophistication and depth. It is our aim to meet students from “where they are” in a given discipline. Then, through classroom instruction, open-ended assignments, and individual coaching, we carry every one of them as far forward as possible in the acquisition of appropriate subject area concepts, content, and skills.

    Similarly, we think assessment of learning is best achieved through close observation and deep knowledge of students by their teachers. Rather than basing assessment solely on tests, we evaluate student progress as part of everyday instruction, varying with teachers’ understanding of individual students’ particular needs and providing opportunities for observation in the moment and over the long term. The quantitative feedback that PFS students receive does come at times come in the form of raw test scores; for example, “7 out of 12” on a quiz, perhaps. More often, however, teachers supply narrative feedback on specific aspects of a student’s work to communicate areas of accomplishment and suggestions for further attention.

    We choose this method for assessment because grades assigned to student work or performance are in our experience often not adequate - or at best only one-dimensional - indicators of competency and progress. Children learn and grow in ways that can outpace the metrics designed to track them. At Princeton Friends School, we aim to give every student – and parent – feedback that is accurate, perceptive, and able to reflect the unique character and growth of the child. We also intend our assessments to be not the final say, but the beginning of a conversation.

    Twice a year, parents receive in-depth, narrative reports on their child’s progress, including academic highlights and test scores, assessments of a child’s learning style and needs, and recommendations for further study and challenge. Parent teacher conferences are also held two times a year, or when requested by a teacher or parent.
“The point is not merely to challenge students - after all, harder is not necessarily better - but to invite them to think deeply about issues that matter and help them understand ideas from the inside out."
-Alfie Kohn, "Progressive Education: Why It's Hard to Beat but Also Hard to Find"
A progressive, Quaker day school welcoming students in Pre-K through 8th grade to our historic Princeton campus nestled in the woods.