In September Noah started Kindergarten at Frankford Friends. Because our neighborhood school isn't up to par with what we want for Noah, last year I embarked on the craziness of the Philadelphia school hunt. I filled out a transfer form to see if Noah could win a lottery into a better neighborhood school and after alot of research I put in applications at a few charter schools that I thought were appropriate. And we also put in an application at Frankford Friends which I had fallen in love with last year when we visited.
I had met a few neighborhood families who sent their kids to Frankford Friends and was blown away about how positively they felt about it. And when I visited it was clear why. Not only do they teach by the Friends school ideals - to stress growth in individuality, strong sense of community, and peaceful conflict resolution - but the school had such a humble, diverse and homey feel to it, which isn't how I typically feel about private schools. FF is small with class sizes around 15 or less in the higher grades and the kids of different ages work together often so all the students and families get to know each other. And because Frankford Friends is in North Philadelphia in a neighborhood that many consider dicey, it makes it a very affordable private school education, especially by Quaker school standards.
I was SO pleased when Noah loved the school as much as I did when he spent the day there. And they loved him too. And I was looking forward to becoming part of the Frankford Friends family since this time last year.
And how is it? So far it's everything I had hoped it would be. Noah feels completely at home there. He hasn't had one bad day or complaint about any teacher or student. The other families are so friendly and we're enjoying getting to know people and get involved with all the extra curricular activities. The thing that speaks volumes to me about the school is the older kids - how smart and friendly the eighth graders seem when often that isn't the case with kids that age. Frankford Friends seems to be a perfect fit for us. Of course sending three kids to private school isn't ideal and part of me feels the need to do all the lottery stuff for Ray too to see if he gets in some place that would be as good for him and free - but I don't know if such a place exists. Sure there are alot of great school options but it's so hard to consider the others when this one seems so right.
The details: Noah has art, music, library, gym, spanish, choice time, a reading partner from an older grade and a gardening partner from an older grade (in the spring they work on a school garden). His favorite day of school is Friday because they have an all school assembly where students from different grades perform or talk about what they are learning. They have recess time twice a day - and though they don't have any play equipment they do a great job of encouraging creative outdoor play. This year they have gotten enough funding to start building an additional building which will give them a bigger indoor group space, a music room and gym.
OH and since I'm on the topic of school I must mention Noah's reading. For the LONGEST time Noah was on the edge of reading. For forever he knew all his letter sounds and could sound out words but he seemed afraid to try. He was frustrated and any time we tried to read with him would end with him in a poor mood. I decided last year to let up on him since he was already ahead for his age and just hope that kindergarten would help. That what he needed was just someone else to encourage him. Well that is exactly what happened but not in the way I expected. Noah brings home a little book and when he can read it by himself and to the class he can exchange it for the next level. Well Noah and one other classmate are tearing through these books. Noah is loving the competition of it - approaching them suddenly with an "I can read" attitude that he never had before. And he wants to make sure he is keeping up with his classmates - that he and a girl in his class are ahead. In fact his teach keeps "forgetting" to give him the next book right away, but I think she is purposely trying to slow him down so the other kids don't get too far behind. So - Noah's reading. And he's so excited and proud about it. It's excellent.