Lower School » A Thoughtful Approach to Childhood

A Thoughtful Approach to Childhood

A Montessori Foundation
At The Fulton School, we are Montessori-based, which means we believe in educating the whole child, not just his/her brain. We integrate social skills, character education, and emotional well-being as well as traditional academics into our curriculum, and we believe that solid academics depend on the growth of the "whole child." 

As a school based on the Montessori philosophy, respect for self, respect for others, and respect for the environment are cornerstones of our curriculum. We build on children's natural desires for independence and help them to achieve that in classrooms constructed to allow each child to explore hands-on, meaningful work that both reaches the child at his or her current stage, but also encourages the child to stretch him/herself to the next level. Respect for the environment is cultivated as the children participate in the maintenance of our community, whether through completing classroom jobs, fulfilling Clean Sweep duty in the Dining Room, or nurturing classroom gardens.

Learning at TFS is facilitated by our expert faculty and low student-to-teacher ratios. We encourage real-life skill building, self-knowledge, and student agency. Our teachers get to know our students as individuals — their strengths and weaknesses, their interests, what motivates them to succeed — and are therefore able to better clear the way for broad and deep learning. Our methodologies are based on rigorous research and tried-and-true experience. As a result, TFS creates engaged students who have truly learned how to learn.

Montessori... and Beyond
We gradually transition to a more traditional, yet still personalized classroom structure in Grades 4-6. We have also modified the traditional three-year Montessori curriculum by shortening the age range in the multi-age classes. Our student-teacher ratios are approximately 5:1 for toddlers, 10:1 for preschoolers, and 15:1 for grades K-6. These small student-teacher ratios allow our teachers to individually know and support each child at his or her own level.

Our entire school is a community, and we frequently gather together as such. All Lower School students and faculty come together weekly to share, teach, and learn. At these Friday Morning gatherings, we may enjoy performers from outside our community, learn about character traits and practice public speaking through class presentations, or simply read, talk, or sing together.

Our Nine Character Values
We especially value nine personal characteristics, which provide the foundation for our sense of community and joint responsibility for one another. We seize every opportunity to incorporate these character traits in our studies and model them for one another:

    1.  Joy
    2.  Independence
    3.  Initiative
    4.  Curiosity
    5.  Confidence
    6.  Cooperation
    7.  Respect
    8.  Responsibility
    9.  Courage

21st Century Skills
Sometimes called social-emotional skills, or noncognitive traits and habits, or even grit, 21st century skills are the nonacademic but essential life skills not directly measured by standardized test scores or any traditional measure of achievement. At The Fulton School, they include:

Critical Thinking
Time Management
Goal Setting

These are the skills that researchers consistently find are the “difference that makes a difference” in college, career-readiness, and life in general. They are the essential qualities that separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in the 21st century from those who are not. TFS's vision, in tandem with the amazing faculty who enact it every day, produce these highly sought-after, successful young people.

Community Service and Public Speaking
Community service and public speaking are integrated into our curriculum in developmentally appropriate ways at all age and grade levels, so that our children can be active contributors to our community and practice presenting themselves to others.

P.E, Foreign Language, Music, Art
For Lower School, we include 30 minutes of daily physical education, as well as 1 hour weekly of Spanish, music, and art instruction. Our students enjoy at least 30 minutes of outdoor outdoor play time (weather permitting) to promote physical health and a balanced approach to their studies.

Parent Access, Involvement, and Communication
We maintain an open door policy with our families, and we welcome parents as classroom volunteers, lunchtime visitors, and observers. Volunteer opportunities are present at all grade levels as well as through school-wide activities such the Book Fair and our annual Trivia Night Auction. We place a lot of importance on communication, from our school-wide weekly Tuesday Memos to our classroom newsletters. Our Lower School faculty use Seesaw to share real-time, interactive updates with parents in the form of both photos and videos of their children in action at school. Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio tool that you can access as an app easily and free of charge. Our parents enjoy and appreciate receiving in-the-moment glimpses of TFS in action.