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Francis W. Parker School

330 West Webster
Chicago, IL 60614

(773) 353-3000


Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

From the Director:

To fully understand the development of curriculum in the lower school at the Franics W. Parker School, one must be acquainted with the concept of central topic as an organizing structure for curriculum. Central topic provides an organized, yearlong approach to curriculum that develops a learning setting that in its totality becomes greater than the sum of the individual experiences. This approach encourages a feeling of being "in the moment," or "in flow," that experience where the preparation of skills, the development of the knowledge base, the understanding of the situation, and the reflection on the goals come together in an effortless moment that leads to a new awareness.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Francis W. Parker's faculty are responsive and purposeful instructors who know your child and your family well.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The mission of the Francis W. Parker School is to cultivate in its students qualities of character and citizenship that can guide them through life as resourceful, thoughtful and active participants in a democratic society.

Parker aims to be a school where students and teachers thrive on their involvement with ideas and with each other. Through inquiry in the academic subjects, experience in the visual and performing arts, and participation in physical activity and community service, our school intends to inspire each student to strive for excellence and creativity in order to know the pleasures of learning and the value of contributing to the progress and improvement of society. We believe that engagement in each of these areas shapes the intellectual development, emotional maturity and moral life of the growing student.

Our vision is to create a culture in which students and teachers work together to build a humane and joyful school where trust and respect engenders in each person a disposition to question, to reflect, to sustain effort, and to act with empathy, confidence and integrity. Deliberately composed of a diverse group of people, Parker respects the individuality of each student and believes that responsibility, collaboration and intellectual curiosity develop when students are known and feel appreciated by their teachers and classmates, and are encouraged to do their best by stretching themselves beyond their own current achievements and points of view.

Our commitment is to support a community of learners where students feel free and safe and able to explore their imaginations, share who they are becoming, and know the richness of heritage, interests and passions, both their own and those of others. Our purpose is to develop citizens who, with their teachers, connect the experience of the classroom with life throughout the school, with our broader society and with the wider world.

A Parker education leads students to develop the self-discipline, independence of mind and collaborative spirit necessary to apply their values, skills, knowledge and ideas to think and act as vigorous participants in the life of our democracy. In these ways, our school strives to connect reflection with action, insight with innovation, deeds with consequences, and character with citizenship.

A Typical Day

We believe that learning at its best incorporates collaboration between child and teacher and between children working in partnerships or in small groups. We believe that children draw from the environment as they continually reconstruct an understanding of their world.

We put these beliefs into practice by providing a rich, varied and accessible environment; by presenting objects or situations that pose thought provoking questions; by extending concrete experiences through language and non-verbal representations and by inviting children to plan and reflect on their learning.

Throughout the Lower School Years, we emphasize appropriate interactions by helping children use problem solving and negotiating skills to work through the tension inherent in being an individual within a community of other students.

We believe that the Lower School at Francis W. Parker offers an exceptional nurturing environment for intellectual, emotional and physical growth. It embodies the ideals of progressive education: learning by doing and working cooperatively. Its aim is to further the childâ??s individual growth, delight in discovery, sense of personal responsibility and ability to work in a group.

Students go on to the middle school with the capacity to think and read critically, to use the computer to support their learning, to do research and to accomplish long-range projects. They are able to express themselves creatively in a number of media. They use math effectively and can demonstrate scientific ideas. They have learned to set goals and boundaries for themselves while negotiating with others in support of their ideas.

Our Lower School students are excited about learning, they possess a growing knowledge of themselves as students, and they demonstrate at each grade level a developing sense of responsibility for both themselves and the world around them.


Separation is Handled through:

  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year