Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What a K - 8 school does for a sixth grader

Here is a terrific article from NPR Ed, Sixth Grade is Tough; It Helps to be Top Dog, about the unique benefits of K - 8 schools. The article tells of a study of 90,000 students over time.  It examined how sixth graders did in  Grade 6 - 8 schools, vs  6 - 12 or K - 8 schools.  It turns out K - 8 schools were the difference makers and here is why.

Sixth graders are particularly vulnerable as social beings and being at the "bottom" of the pack as a 6th grader is really tough for them.  Bullying, social media meanness, and lagging academic performance is the rule when they are the "bottom dog".  But in a K - 8 environment, even if they are new in sixth grade, these students are right in the middle.  They feel connected and safer.  They can be leaders and role models for younger children and will take on intellectual challenges.

Our middle school kids (and alumni) tell it best: "I can be myself."  "I have confidence."  "I have a lot of say about what happens."  These are such important factors in the lives of our 12, 13 and 14 year-olds.  Coming out of middle school as a confident, passionate learner and a nice person seems like an impossible goal to reach if you look at the way many schools are organized today.  In a Pre K - 8 like Parker, it is not only possible, it's the norm.

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