The FIDS curriculum emphasizes strong academic skills, along with differentiated instruction, daily world-language instruction, computer use, music, visual arts, and physical education. Students achieve high levels of proficiency in academic areas through hands-on, direct-learning experiences, which encourage independent reasoning skills.
Each grade’s curriculum includes academically rigorous, activity-based instruction, rather than solely incorporating rote memorization and drill. Cross-curricular, theme-based teaching methods explore and reinforce a topic across multiple subjects—literature, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), art, history, science, and social studies. Teachers of world languages integrate their curriculum with grade-appropriate subject-matter from STEM, history, geography, social studies, art, and music. Daily physical education promotes leadership and team responsibility, as well as developing gross- and fine-motor skills.
“Fisher Island Day School provides an exceptional learning environment for my children that is preparing them to compete academically and on a national level.”
FIDS is organized into three developmentally appropriate schools:
The Primary School (Early Learning – Kindergarten) is an academically rigorous learning experience for FIDS’s youngest students. Literacy and numeracy instruction are key areas of focus, which equip FIDS students with the skills necessary for early reading and problem-solving. FIDS maintains a small student-to-teacher ratio and differentiates instruction , which gives students an academic advantage that endures throughout their school career. Fisher Island and South Florida weather provide a unique opportunity for outdoor explorations to observe nature, weather, seasons and the elements—thereby extending the classroom experience. On-island golf-cart trips (with safety belts!) facilitate multi-sensory experiences in which all five senses become a part of the children’s learning. A few examples of local trips include: visits to a market, where students use math skills to purchase fresh fruit; a marina, where children observe and count the manatees; and the aviary, where students observe and feed exotic birds.
In Lower School (Grades 1 – 5) students navigate through academically rigorous, thematic units of study. FIDS encourages questioning and debate, expanded research, and investigation to support and develop the lifelong skill of critical thinking. As students rise through the grades, reading and language arts are increasingly emphasized, encouraging students to express their ideas and understanding of what they have learned and their perception of the world and their needs for the future. Students take part in the writing process throughout the school day, with emphasis focused on grammar development, mechanics, handwriting, and expression. The mathematics program emphasizes practical applications, a grounded understanding of mathematics vocabulary, and the reinforcement of already acquired skills. The school strives to promote a genuine interest in history and social studies, and teachers encourage free investigation into ideas and topics. In addition, with a commitment to early world-language instruction, the social studies curriculum is complemented with essential knowledge of various cultures and traditions. The STEM curriculum is introduced and experienced through discovery, project-based learning, group investigations, and independent research. In addition to our own fully equipped STEM lab, Fisher Island serves as an excellent “science lab” in which to investigate the ocean, flora, fauna, and various biomes. Plus, the Fisher Island Observatory is ideal for studying the night sky.
Students in the Middle School (Grades 6 – 8) complete their academic journey at FIDS, which leads to admission to South Florida’s prestigious high schools. In Middle School, students rotate between classes to receive high levels of core-content instruction in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies—including advanced and honors coursework, such as Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. Additionally, all students are required to participate in Spanish as their main world-language component. Students are involved in the selection process when determining quarterly electives. Elective options include such courses as: art; physical education; music; robotics; keyboarding; creative writing; public speaking; and SSAT Prep. Extra-curricular activities for middle-school students include a range of sport offerings, such as soccer, cross-country running, tennis, basketball, golf, flag football, and volleyball. Other non-sport opportunities vary per quarter and serve as components of the active-hours after-school program.
Based on solid academic theory and incorporating the latest research in curriculum and pedagogy, Fisher Island Day School provides a solid foundation for continued academic success and lifelong learning. Highlights of the FIDS curriculum include the following:
Small class sizes, which ensure individualized attention at every level.
Emphasis on language skills with regular instruction in world languages.
Emphasis on hands-on learning, which is evident throughout the curriculum. Students acquire the skills to explore the concepts behind activities presented in reading, writing, mathematics, STEM, and social studies.
Art and music are taught weekly, with additional offerings available through FIDS’s robust extracurricular programs.
The physical education, athletics, and extra-curricular programs are designed to instill an appreciation for movement, physical activity, collaboration, and the creative arts — all of which are part of a healthy lifestyle and which serve to enhance academic achievement. In addition, athletics and sports involvement instills attributes of teamwork, commitment, and skill development in the adolescent years. FIDS offers a daily P.E. program and a robust array of extra-curricular activities and sports, which are designed to perfect a range of physical skills and artistic talents.
The curriculum was developed exclusively for FIDS by the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. It stresses basic preparation in English, mathematics, history, world languages, STEM, and physical education. In addition, art and music are included in the curriculum. The school boasts a 5:1 student/teacher ratio, which is one of the lowest in all of South Florida. Class size does not exceed 14 students. A high level of individual attention is offered.
Health is very much a part of the culture. In addition to daily physical education classes, the school employs a private organic chef to prepare lunch and snacks for the children.
Many faculty members were brought to the FIDS community as a result of a national search to find the best teachers available. Over 70% hold advanced degrees. All full-time teachers are offered the opportunity to attend graduate courses, conferences, or workshops supported by the FIDS Professional Development Fund.
Active Hours, Athletics, & Extracurricular Programs
FIDS offers a wide array of after-school enrichment programs in the arts, athletics, and other academic and creative pursuits. FIDS after-school programming is offered in trimesters, which run approximately 12 weeks in length.
Additional information about FIDS after-school programming, including course offerings, calendar, and registration information is available on our Forms/Resources page.