Social justice is embedded in all we do. We empower students as activists.
Whether taking a field trip to register voters or learning about indigenous history, social justice is part of our curriculum. But we go beyond just learning about social justice – we practice it by empowering students as leaders and activists.
Students are leaders and teachers.
Students write and edit their own newspaper, and co-teach an ecology elective. Kindergarten students lead their PreK peers in learning new routines. Students choose elective classes and suggest topics of study. Students in cooking elective learn to use real kitchen tools and make meals for the whole school. We believe students are capable of so much if we give them opportunities to be independent.
Every student is an individual and a whole person.
Each student brings their creativity, self-expression, personality, and unique talents with them when they come to school. We honor these contributions and build on students’ strengths. On a typical day students create art, 3D printed sculptures, and math games. We also know that students learn best when their learning in math, reading, and other subjects happens at their own pace, with plenty of flexibility and individual support from their teachers. Our class sizes are small (1 teacher for every 10 to 16 students) so that we can create space for each child’s individual learning path.
Project-based, hands-on, and inquiry-based learning happen every day.
We study the symmetry of snowflakes under a microscope. Students ask questions like, “what is the oldest tree in Chicago?” and find the answer in a park. We build model treehouses to practice area and perimeter. We cook Ethiopian food and paint in the style of famous Chicago artists. Learning at CFS is student-centered. It’s all about what students can do!
We learn through creative problem solving.
Daily math lessons go beyond arithmetic – students find their own methods and collaborate. In MakerLab, students figure out how to use technology, arts, and crafts in new ways to bring their visions to life.
We practice conflict resolution, not punishment.
Students learn to be positive participants in their community by practicing conflict resolution, and having a voice in determining school rules. Can PreK students learn mindfulness? Can middle-schoolers lead a meeting? We believe they can. Our focus is on building student-to-student communication and social skills that will serve students throughout their lives.
We learn outside and across Chicago.
Extended daily outdoor time is so important for students of all ages to develop physically, socially, and intellectually. And we don’t stop at the playground. We take frequent field trips. Young students study the change in seasons by visiting a nearby apple tree in fall, winter, and spring. Older students visit a working weaving mill and do nature observations at nearby parks.
Learning at CFS means making something real.
We know that students are self-motivated when they create work that they can be proud of. Our students publish poetry books, share their computer games, and perform plays they’ve written themselves. They take ownership of their work!