Families today have lots of options when making a school choice. That’s a good thing because it’s important to choose a school that feels right for your family. Some of the factors you’ll likely want to consider when searching for a school community are personal and specific to your family while others might have more to do with the school itself.
One factor worth considering at the start of any school search is how a school can be structured in a way that immediately makes it more likely to be a better fit for your family. For example, research shows and parents agree that there are tangible benefits to attending a school that starts at preschool and ends at eighth grade. Here are just a few:
Build a Strong Academic Foundation for Future Success
Ages 3 – 15 are critical ages when children are building their academic foundation, learning to collaborate and honing their social skills. In fact, a study by the American College of Testing found that building a strong academic foundation in the upper-elementary and middle school years has a larger impact on college and career readiness than anything that happens in high school. Preschool-grade 8 schools recognize these are a child’s formative years and intentionally design learning programs focusing on play and project-based learning that engage students and set them up for success in high school and beyond.
The Right Amount of Continuity and Community
Starting at age 3, students begin building a community of teachers, advisors, and mentors who create a support system for them and their families. The structure of a K-8 or preschool-grade 8 school allows for continuity during the critical foundation-building years. Transitions between grades and divisions are handled with great care and communication to create a path for each child where they are supported by the adult community and challenged in age-appropriate ways. When it’s time to transition to high school, preschool-grade 8 graduates are prepared to thrive in their unique, right-fit high school.
Much has been written about the challenges of the middle school years. It’s a time of vulnerability when kids may feel awkward and unsure. Preschool-grade 8 schools recognize that the transition from elementary to middle school can be difficult for young adolescents and offer these students the gift of time to be known and to feel safe in that knowing, without interrupting this critical developmental period with a school change. Combining the preschool, elementary and middle school years gives middle school students time to mature, tapping their growing abilities while preserving their childlike sense of joy, wonder, and curiosity.
Learn to Lead Early
Middle school students at preschool-grade 8 schools have more leadership opportunities than their peers at standalone middle schools or K-12’s. These students can be the “top dog” and then transition in high school with stronger social-emotional skills. Another benefit to being the “top dog” in a preschool-grade 8 school: the students aren’t in close proximity to high school students, and thus aren’t aspiring to things they see or hear for which they are not ready. Big/little buddy programs give younger kids mentors to look up to and older students are seen as leaders with a responsibility to model good behavior for their little buddies.
Better Prepared to Choose And Excel In the Right High School
It’s hard to know which high school will be best for your 2.5-year old, but by grade 8, a students’ strengths and aspirations are more clear. In partnership with a preschool-grade 8 school’s high school placement director, families can find a high school that aligns with their family’s values and where their high schooler will thrive. When it’s time to apply for college, students can apply what they learned during their high school selection and transition process to choosing the unique, best-fit college for them.