We believe children are social learners who, alongside their peers, require spiral-based exposure to concepts, consistent time for skill-building practice, and regular engagement in discovery-oriented learning processes.
Our child-centered approach allows us to provide students with an academic curriculum that engages multi-sensory teaching methods within small classes. This method helps students develop learning styles consistent with the strengths of their own minds. Prior to the start of each academic year, we individually assess each student's needs and create classes and social groupings to match their social-emotional maturity, ability level, and learning goals.
Core classes concentrate on building academic fundamentals and skill-building in the areas of reading, writing and math. Students also have daily exposure to a variety of exploratory classes, based on thematic study of social studies and science concepts. Daily physical education and elective rotation classes are also offered, where creativity, learning and play can merge.
Our SAIS accredited program prepares students for the next stages of their development, in accordance with their strengths and human potential. The Lower School emphasizes the following pathways of academic development and growth:
Our favorable student-to-teacher ratio of 5:1 allows teachers to differentiate instruction as needed, providing individualized attention across all core academic subjects.
Teachers at TFA use mastery-based tracking in conjunction with multi-sensory instructional approaches to help students grow and strengthen basic skills in the core academic areas of reading, writing, and math.
Project based learning occurs within every class in the Lower School and follows an exploratory, hands-on process. Students learn to ask questions, research, publish, critique, revise and present newfound knowledge.
Lower School teachers designate time for morning meetings every day. These, along with other planned opportunities to navigate group process, help young learners practice a variety of social awareness, responsible decision-making, self-awareness, relationship, and self-management skills.
We believe young learners should develop 21st century skills in moderation. This is why each student is assigned a Chromebook to use at designated times for extension work, inquiry, research, and electronic publishing.
Kids need time, space and opportunity to practice creativity in a variety of formats. Our teaching professionals offer endless opportunities for students to engage in kinesthetic expression, including myriad art projects, puppet shows, plays, and dances.
Each student takes a total of three elective rotation classes over the course of an academic year. These course offerings span a range of disciplines and interests, including visual art, technology and robotics, geography, time travel, 21 clues and much, much more!
The Lower School environment creates ongoing opportunities for students to step up as student leaders. Our students embrace opportunities to exercise their voices in public while presenting to the community their ideas and discoveries.
Daily movement classes help students explore and refine body movement and basic movement patterns, develop eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, introduce physical fitness concepts, and teach cooperative games and sports skills.
At the end of each day, academic extension time for elementary children and homework hall time for those in middle grades provides students with an opportunity to get the majority of assignments completed while at school. During this time, students who require extra help may see teachers for assistance.
Student life in the Lower School buzzes with vibrant, fun experiences and exciting extra-curricular activities. These initiatives are intentionally designed to help students form a positive sense of school, while developing a team-oriented sense of commitment and social responsibility.
Student life experiences at TFA include, but are not limited to, the following:
A great tradition at TFA is having every student and faculty member on either the Garnet or Gray team for the Garnet & Gray Games. Throughout the school year a variety of competitions take place, teaching students the value of teamwork, good sportsmanship, and healthy competition.
At TFA, learning goes well beyond the classroom. We enrich students' education with opera performances, off-campus field studies, Shakespeare readings, and much more. Through these unique opportunities, students explore, learn, create, and connect with the world around them.
Community service is an integral part of becoming a contributing, responsible adult. Lower School students practice service learning in ways that are integrated into the curriculum, deepening their understanding of the importance of community and ways they may contribute to and support it.
We believe in taking time to slow down and break bread together. We also believe in scheduling regular and repeated time to play, especially for our youngest learners. This allows them to expend energy, socially engage, and learn how to master control of their bodies while having fun.
Opportunities to participate in student clubs are offered every Friday afternoon. We offer a wild variety of clubs from which to choose, including sports clubs, puzzle clubs, art clubs and play-based clubs.
Throughout the school year we schedule a variety of special assemblies for the benefit of our students. Examples include student-led assemblies, spirit day assemblies, Veteran's Day assemblies, and other gatherings where students and teachers may present special thematic content.
At TFA, we host a number of events each year for students and their families. These events include All School Picnics, Fall Festival, Book Fair, Field Days, and special performances throughout the year.
We value parental involvement. There are several ways parents may be involved. These include volunteer opportunities, serving as experts as various topics are explored, attending student performances and assemblies, participating in parent gatherings with the administration, and attending scheduled family-oriented special events.
Following each full day of instruction, TFA offers a safe, staff supervised after school program and athletic clubs.
TFA's after-school program is available to all TFA students who need to remain after school until the program closes at 5:30 PM. This program provides a safe, supervised environment where students may play with peers, work on homework, or read for pleasure. A fee is charged to the family's account each day a student attends.
An extension of TFA's after-school program, sports-based athletic clubs are held twice a week each sports season. Athletic clubs are for older elementary and middle school students who wish to practice and learn the fundamentals of various sports, including soccer, basketball, cross country and ultimate frisbee. Club schedules line up with the Upper School athletic department's sport seasons, allowing for Upper School teams to serve occasionally as athletic club mentors and scrimmage hosts.