Middle school (grades 6 – 8) at The Children’s School – or Middle Grades, as we call it – offers our students a challenging, project-based learning experience embedded within a nurturing environment where our students are given the time to mature gently and tap into their growing abilities while preserving their childlike sense of joy and wonder as they build their academic and social-emotional skills.
Our nationally recognized, hands-on curriculum provides students with academic challenges at every level and encourages them to explore, investigate and discover who they are as learners. They’re given leadership opportunities at a crucial time when they’re starting to develop their voice and opinions so they’re prepared to move onto – and be successful in – high school and beyond.
“By the time they leave TCS and go to high school, they know enough about themselves to know their strengths and challenges and to know the academic and social-emotional skills they need to be successful in high school,” said Head of School Roslyn Benjamin.
The TCS Middle Grades program distinguishes itself from other middle school programs in these ways.
Challenging Academics Embedded in a Nurturing Environment
TCS teachers embed challenging academics within a nurturing environment by developing deep relationships with students so that students feel supported, and not stressed, when they are challenged and stretched.
Being an intentionally small program allows our teachers the opportunity to know their students’ likes and dislikes; what makes them passionate; and what gets them excited and engaged because they have spent quality time with their students. The result is students who trust their teachers to truly know and support them when they try something new or make mistakes.
“I really like the amount of trust that the teachers have in the students,” said eighth-grade student Emma Fleming. “They trust you, they know you and know the amount of work you can complete.”
Innovative, Hands-on Curriculum
Incorporating the national curriculum and standards for science, social studies, math and language arts into immersive project-based learning units helps our Middle Grades students make powerful connections with the world around them and see the relevance and impact of their learning while incorporating TCS’s Building Character and Community (BCC) traits like empathy, flexibility and cooperation. The result is a higher level of engagement so that students don’t just know what they’re studying, they understand it and are ready to use their learning to make an impact on their world.
Our current students eventually will enter into a world that requires them to think critically, flexibly, and creatively, collaborate with others, and be empathetic. At TCS, we introduce these skills within each academic subject area and help our students further develop them through project-based learning, preparing them for high school, college, and beyond.
“The actual world they’re going to inhabit is going to look more like project-based learning, which requires creativity, the ability to collaborate, adaptability, critical thinking, empathy and open-ended planning,” said Roslyn. “At The Children’s School, you don’t have to choose between strong academics and the 21st century skills needed to thrive in high school and beyond.”
Learn to Lead Early
Middle Grades students at The Children’s School are seen, heard and celebrated as the “leaders of the pack.” As a small, preschool – grade 8 school, TCS gives our middle school students opportunities to earn to lead at an early age. We help them find their voice and gain real-world leadership experience by offering student-driven clubs, managing the school store, and mentoring our youngest learners through the big/little buddies program. These opportunities extend beyond privileges and incorporate the students’ feedback and opinions into school affairs.
“They have great leadership skills, which I’ve been seeing more with both of them. They’ve learned how to resolve conflict and they’ve learned those basic life lessons throughout their entire middle school years at TCS,” said TCS parent Erin Littles, parent to Alyssa (grade 8) and Mason (grade 5). “I really want to express that TCS helps teach my kids to not just check off boxes. They had to learn how to blow the boxes up.”
TCS Students Mature Gently But Powerfully
Because a middle school student’s journey to adulthood is not quite complete, TCS honors the remaining child by allowing our oldest students to mature gently within our preschool through grade 8 school structure. TCS taps into our middle school students’ growing abilities while preserving their childlike sense of joy, wonder and curiosity. They remain children longer which helps them stretch and develop competence and confidence, free from the worry of potential judgement from older adolescents. Add to this a curriculum structure that supports social-emotional development with advisories, project-based learning, and a strong strand of socially collaborative learning, and you have the elements that allow kids of this age to thrive.
Choosing to be at a school for three-year-olds to fourteen-year-olds offers our Middle Grades students the gift of time to be known and to be safe in that knowing, without interrupting this critical developmental period. The research is clear that students in a preschool through middle grades program perform better academically, socially, and in leadership positions because they have the chance to be the older leaders on campus and looked up to by their younger schoolmates.
“It has been a really fantastic experience to just watch my kids grow and become who they are: fantastic learners and fantastic soon-to-be adults,” said Erin. “I’m very proud of where they are, and I’m very proud of what TCS has done to help them get there.”
Prepares Middle School Students for High School and Beyond
TCS graduates are problem-finders and solution seekers who recognize obstacles and implement innovative solutions in a collaborative way – the very skills they’ll need to succeed in high school and beyond. It’s no surprise that our Middle Grades students are admitted into top high schools and colleges, and they thrive academically and socially in a wide range of school types – public and private, co-ed and single sex, day school and boarding.
In partnership with the high school placement counselor, TCS families can find a high school that aligns with their family’s values and where their high schooler will thrive. In fact, more than 92% of our graduates are admitted to their first-choice high school. When it’s time to apply for college, students can apply what they learned during their high school selection and transition process to choosing their best-fit college.
“By the time they get to eighth grade, we know them,” said High School Placement Counselor Erin Joyner. “We’re able to advocate for them throughout the admissions process in a really unique and special way.”
“We are thrilled with the TCS Middle Grades experience,” said Samantha Hodgkins, Class of 2019 alum parent. “(Our daughter) is thriving and succeeding at a very high level in a traditional college prep structure. She can clearly express the ways she was highly equipped and prepared for high school, along with the few specific areas that felt were a “leap” freshman team year but which she quickly anchored by the beginning of second semester.”