Lower School

The journey of a Lower School student at Penn Charter is one of cognitive and character development, deeply rooted in our Quaker values and a focus on the growth of the whole child.  We help children to see the best in themselves and in each other, honoring the inner light of each child and helping them to bring their best selves to school each day. Our students thrive academically, socially and emotionally in a culture of peace and community—one where the joy of learning, caring for one another and the community, and peaceful resolution of conflict are the cornerstones of success.

Learning in the youngest years builds on a transfer from the concrete to the conceptual. Students learn the building blocks of how to read, write and think mathematically as they grow into critical and creative thinkers. They participate in a collaborative process in which they learn from and with each other, guided by our expert educators in hands-on learning.  Students learn critical skills and strategies, and apply this to real-world, project-based learning that is both innovative and challenging.

As a result, they develop the capacity to communicate and collaborate, asking questions, thinking critically, writing effectively and listening carefully in ways that support a life-long love of learning.

Lower school students playing instruments together in music class.

Our small class size lends to strong teacher, student and family relationships, and ensures ample one-on-one attention.  The Lower School teachers are dedicated to improving practice through ongoing personal and collaborative professional development, including in our Teaching & Learning Center. Lower School curriculum coordinators guide best practice and oversee the ongoing refinement and updating of curriculum, assuring that our students have access to an academic program that is both child-centered and challenging. Students at Penn Charter grow into bright, compassionate, high-achieving and academically curious children.

Curricular Highlights

Individualized learning. Our private elementary school curriculum celebrates the unique gift that each child brings to school and provides essential tools for lifelong learning.

Collaboration. While learning to read and write and perform mathematical functions, students also learn to communicate and cooperate. They learn to ask questions, think critically, write effectively, listen carefully, and put all those pieces together.

Interdisciplinary topics. We know that children learn better when ideas are connected. Consequently, interdisciplinary or “thematic learning” in which teachers apply one theme in reading, writing, math, art and social studies is integral to our elementary education program.

Hands-on work. We know that learning is enhanced when new ideas progress from the concrete to the conceptual, and that children learn by doing—so, many of our Lower School activities are hands-on.

Meet Our Lower School Director

Explore Our Lower School Program

woman handing student flower

Lower School Spanish Classes Learn How a Philly Bus Bridges Hispanic Communities to Their Culture

Blonde third grade boy looks at camera as he plants in a garden

Third grade designed, created and planted a pollinator garden with curricular connetions.

Trude Berg poses with her husband Franz Kaufmann

Franz Kaufmann OPC '63 names future lower school music room in honor of his soulmate Trude Berg.

Teacher and two students hold class with google meet. Teacher and students in respective homes.

Penn Charter launched its Distance Learning Plan in March 2020, marking a community-wide pivot to new forms of teaching and learning.