As a parent, we have a whole different set of criteria for a new home purchase than singles and DINKs. We have to wonder about things like the amount of bedrooms – are any of the kids going to have to share? – the square footage, allowing plenty of room for toys, devices, homework nooks, and bookshelves; whether there are parks or outdoor space within walking distance to burn off kids’ excess energy, and whether the walls and floors of that condo are thick enough that the neighbors won’t hate you and your spawn, who have heard of but never used an “indoor voice.”
By far, however, the number one thing that parents consider before buying a home, in Philadelphia or anywhere else, is the quality of the local schools. School is where your child will be spending the majority of their time that isn’t with you, and elementary schools are of particular importance. You’ve heard the saying that, “all I need to know; I learned in kindergarten?” The truth is that the six years of elementary school are crucial to the formation of your child’s education and attitude towards learning. And, of course, you want them to thrive. So, without further ado, read about some of Philadelphia’s best elementary schools, and the neighborhoods where they can be found.
K-8 / Rittenhouse Square
For those seeking a classical or “old-fashioned” sturdy curriculum for their child, Philadelphia Classical School could just turn out to be their educational home. The school is non-denominationally Christian, and focuses on raising Christ-centered leaders as well as classically-educated minds. What does this look like in the actual classroom? Well, foreign language study begins at the youngest grades, to give students a solid foundation. The value of the literary classics and poetry are emphasized, also from an early age. At least one day of the month, students go out into the city to gain perspective and learn new things about their environment. Cursive is taught to grammar school students, as it is believed this is an essential skill. Free play and hands-on learning are valued, especially in math and science.
Pre-K – 12 / Logan Square
A school with Quaker origins, Friends Select School values both the peaceful solution of conflict and the value of truth. Per the mission statement, the goal is to teach students to “walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.” Students are taught to balance their needs with those of everyone else, and to grow vigorously in mind, spirit, and physical health. The school partners with city institutions, and can brag that a full 100 percent of their graduates go on to college. Friends Select is accredited by Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS). Friends Select is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS), and the Friends Council on Education.
K-8 / Washington Square West
This Catholic school holds the distinction of being the oldest parish elementary school in the nation, having been founded in 1782. Their admissions policy states that “St. Mary School provides a quality Catholic education to Catholic students from parishes which have no parish school, Catholic students from parishes which have a parish school but who wish to attend St. Mary’s and to other students desiring a Catholic education as space allows.” Between 2014-2016, St. Mary’s was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The education level is strong, too: the Class of 2018 was awarded approximately $675,000 in scholarships to Archdiocesan and private Catholic high schools.
K-8 / Old City
For years, Holy Redeemer has stuck to its original motto: Pui Dok, or “nurturing virtues.” Through the Gospels, students are taught a curriculum that, on top of scholastic strength, will help them grow in love, peace, and justice. Perhaps the only thing higher than the moral standards here are the academic ones. Lifelong learning as well as a commitment to growing in Jesus are emphasized. Graduates are accepted into many of the top schools in the area. Scholarships and grants in excess of $100,000 were awarded to students in the Class of 2014, including two winners of the prestigious Neumann Scholarship.