From the moment they enter the Beginning School, PFS students are immersed in a print-rich environment. Words are everywhere, from the children’s names on their cubbies and the chart-paper message that greets them each morning to the maps and calendars posted on classroom walls and the shelves and bins of classroom library books. Throughout the day, teachers guide Beginning School children in the process of engaging with print – whether conducting a choral reading of the morning message, reading aloud to introduce early comprehension skills, or sitting down one-on-one with individuals to read together a beginning reader’s text.
In the Beginning School, children are more formally introduced to letters and words in a variety of ways. Structured time is built into every day for children to work individually with a teacher on beginning phonics skills. Younger children work in a workbook that introduces letter identification, consonant letter-sound associations, short vowel letter-sound associations, and furthers visual discrimination and motor skill development. Older children work in two texts, one phonics-based and another that uses whole-words. Children also participate in games that support reading skills, including letter hunts around the room and word games at the chalkboard.
Just as the spoken word emerges from the deepest silence of Settling In, so does language in all of its manifestations lie at the heart of the Princeton Friends School curriculum. Throughout every day at school and across the grade levels, reading, writing, listening, and speaking are fully integrated across the subject areas and woven into every child’s daily activity.