From the Head of Lower School, Kimeri Swanson-Beck

Kimeri Swanson-Beck, Head of Lower School
Early childhood (Junior Kindergarten–3rd Grade) is a special age for children as they move from a sensory, self-centered, familial experience of the world to a more social and ever expanding intellectual understanding. Young children learn best through exploration, practice, games, play and adult guidance. During this time of rapid brain growth, children develop their skills of language and reasoning using their experiences as a foundation for further understanding. Lower School students are eager, curious, imaginative, driven, enthusiastic and inquisitive. Using these characteristics, teachers develop curriculum and activities that interest the students and support multiple ways to learn and develop life long habits. Students’ bodies need to move as they grow; therefore, we build outdoor play, exploration and recess into the curriculum for our youngest children. Within the curriculum and through the facilitation of their teachers, students construct meaning and develop skills through hands-on exploration, integrated learning, practice, relationship building, self-reflection and the love of learning.
Using both structured and exploratory methods, the Lower School teachers support and facilitate Parker’s mission of educating students “to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a democratic society and global community.” The list below outlines many of the experiences that teach our students the skills they need as young citizens in a democratic society. 

The First Years at Parker begin with

  • Exploring relationships, cooperative learning situations and viewpoints of others to expand multiple perspectives
  • Debating and sharing ideas about fairness and justice and developing both individual and group responsibility
  • Gaining confidence in the basic skills of school such as writing, reading, and mathematics through practice and creative thinking and children’s input and ideas
  • Unpacking the code of reading and using reading skills to explore topics and ideas
  • Learning to write and use writing to share ideas, possibilities, voice and knowledge
  • Exploring the concepts of mathematics, including problem solving and reasoning and the basic tenets of arithmetic
  • Exploring the arts and connecting music, fine art, drama and woodshop to expand knowledge and express oneself
  • Using scientific processes and investigative methods to understand concepts in life, earth and physical sciences
  • Learning strategies to manage transitions and unexpected outcomes
  • Exploring the sense of time, current and historical
  • Using the English language to negotiate, share and communicate understanding
  • Exploring the Spanish language to broaden understanding of human ways of being and develop an ear for Spanish sounds
  • Building strong student habits, such as concentration, stamina, risk-taking and learning from one’s mistakes
  • Expanding small and gross motor skills through play, physical education classes, recess, drama and the arts
  • Exploring and examining identity and citizenship
  • Sharing with and contributing to the world
  • Participating in class projects and traditions that build a sense of unity and moral responsibility beyond themselves
  • Using project-based learning and design thinking methods to explore content and technology tools
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.