At Friends’ Central, a Nurturing Introduction to School
Felicia Lin and Zach Oberfield wanted a strong academic foundation with an emphasis on the values they're teaching at home. They found it all at Friends' Central School.
When Felicia Lin and Zach Oberfield began looking at early childhood education programs for their two sons, Theo and Charlie, they started with all the obvious categories: strong academics, small classes, a nurturing environment.
They also felt strongly that they wanted the concepts they’re teaching the boys at home — about the importance of kindness, multiculturalism, equality, and justice, to name a few — to be reinforced, and built on, at school.
Friends’ Central School, a coed, Quaker school for students from nursery school to 12th grade on two campuses in Wynnewood, has exceeded their expectations, Lin said.
“What we found is this is a school that is educating them well, but also teaching them about what it means to be a thoughtful, active citizen,” she said.
Theo, who’s now 5 and in kindergarten, began in the school’s nursery program; 3-year-old Charlie is a student there now. As the boys swung on Friends’ Central’s playground and sang a song they’d learned about Nelson Mandela, Lin and Oberfield marveled at the social justice unit Charlie’s class was working on.
The kids are talking about Mandela, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and other titans of non-violent protest — in a way that’s relatable to them. The discussion is crafted around rules, who makes them, and why some might find them unfair. It’s the perfect way to talk to children that age, Oberfield said.
“They use stories and techniques that resonate for 3-year-olds,” Lin said.
The concepts may seem lofty, but that’s what the family is talking about at home, and it’s part of the Friends’ Central philosophy: that children can be fully immersed in difficult subjects, with the right help.
“Just the mere fact that they believe 3-year-olds are capable of understanding social justice is what makes this school such a great fit for our family,” Lin said. “And I think it’s amazing.”
The rest of the curriculum is robust, with art, music, Spanish, and science classes that are age-appropriate but rigorous. Oberfield said watching Theo move from the nursery years into kindergarten, he’s been struck by how smoothly and thoughtfully his teachers have passed the baton.
Lin and Oberfield, who live in Haverford, also love the way their children get to interact with students in older grades, from classroom reading buddies to the morning and afternoon car line. Teachers and staff don’t just know Charlie and Theo’s names, Lin said — they know what the boys like, and what might make them nervous, adding to the larger sense of being cared for in a community.
Perhaps most importantly, she said, the boys are learning that school is fun.
“They just run into the school,” she said. “They love it here.”
Want to know more? Visit us online for more information, or stop by one of our upcoming admissions events:
March 7: Admission Parent Info Session (Middle & Upper School, 8:30 am; Lower School, 9 am)
April 19: Spring Open House (9 — 11 am)
April 21: Nursery Open House (9:30 am)
April 4: Admission Parent Info Session (Middle & Upper School, 8:30 am; Lower School, 9 am)
May 2: Admission Parent Info Session (Middle & Upper School, 8:30 am; Lower School, 9 am)
Photographs by Jean Goins.