Discovery! Invention! Creativity! Play!
At Friends, we know that meaningful play encourages language and cognitive development. Our well-appointed, simple schoolhouse and carefully designed outdoor classroom allow children to tune out the noise of the world and tune into timeless, authentic learning and interpersonal connection. Caring educators create a safe, inspiring environment where children are encouraged to explore and take academic risks. Through interactive lessons and teachable moments, children are guided to care for themselves, others, their communities, and the earth. An emphasis on equity honors the capacity of very young children to practice inclusivity and correct injustice. At Friends, each and every aspect of the program is designed and implemented with integrity, focusing on research-based practices, social and emotional learning, and skills for a lifetime of learning and connection. We do this through:
- Student-centered, play-based learning
- A commitment to core values
- Utilizing nature and the outdoors as a landscape for learning
- A mixed-aged program of children from 2½ through 6 years old
- 5:1 student-to-teacher ratio
- Family partnerships
Families choose Friends because they appreciate the timeless importance of raising children with the qualities that are on the better side of humanity. At Friends, we partner together — as educators, parents, caregivers, and peers — to raise children who will be wonderful humans, lifelong learners, and leaders in their communities.
Our preschool program runs from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday through Friday, following the Ridgewood Schools academic calendar. Half and alternate days (M-W-F or T/Th) are available, with families encouraged to eventually enroll their older preschoolers in five full days if possible. Friends is an excellent choice for families seeking a transitional kindergarten year.
Early drop off (8:30 am), as well as custom enrollment schedules are available on a limited basis.
Email us for more information or to schedule a tour!
Looking to enroll in a future year? Add yourself to our wait list, and get notified when we open enrollment:
The Friends curriculum is grounded in the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship (SPICES). Through day-to-day interactions and teachable moments, students learn to honor differences, consider alternate perspectives, cooperate to solve problems, resolve conflict, and participate as members of a community. Students holistically develop literacy and numeracy through morning meetings, project centers, and imaginative play areas that are inquiry-based, hands-on, and directed by students. Our young scientists are immersed in authentic opportunities to interact with nature, engineer solutions, and explore their world. Art is everywhere at Friends, as students engage in plays, puppetry, music, dancing, crafts, and painting daily.
Nature is most often the vehicle for engaging in our rich curriculum, with children spending much of their day in our outdoor classroom and playspace. Our cozy schoolhouse also has well-appointed indoor spaces including two classrooms, a large shared community room with learning centers, and a children-friendly kitchen.
Families are encouraged to connect with the school community. A Peer Parent Mentors Program and new parent meeting provides new families with a warm and welcoming introduction to the community. Caregivers are also invited to volunteer as class parents and volunteer in the school. Bi-annually we host a clothing swap which supports our families in getting to know each other and sharing gently used items. We also host fundraiser social events at local restaurants as well. Each Fall, our students and families come together to participate in a Fall Clean Up Breakfast. Children revel in the opportunity to help rake leaves and plant bulbs, and everyone enjoys breaks together over bagels and coffee. Each November, children learn about the Indigenous People of New Jersey, learn about the history and traditions of Thanksgiving, bake foods, and participate in a community gathering. Current and alumni families and friends acknowledge the changing of the season and the richness of our community with cocoa, s’mores, and a cozy fire pit in our playground during our winter solstice event. Our Family STREAM Night invites caregivers to learn from their children through activities that highlight how our young scholars have been integrating Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics through inquiry and play. At the end of each year, families and friends are welcomed to celebrate our students at our Moving Up Ceremony which includes songs and a play performed by the children.