How should the education programming change when a child reaches sixth grade?
When students enter 6th grade, it is a good time for them to experience some changes in their educational program. These changes can easily be provided in a 4K-8 building. One of the key components of the “middle school concept” is the setup of the schedule and classes. Rather than the self-contained classroom, the middle school concept has students moving from room to room for the various subject areas and interacting with a variety of teachers.
At Sheboygan Leadership Academy students have 7 different teachers who have expertise in the various subjects. In addition to “core” classes, students receive instruction in Spanish, physical education, music and art. This provides for a well-rounded education in a middle school concept setting. The advantage of that setting being housed in a small 4K-8 school is that the teachers get to know the students very well, and follow their progress closely. Our middle school staff will meet on a weekly basis to discuss curriculum, share ideas and concerns, evaluate student needs, and discuss educational opportunities for our students.
What other changes should occur when a child enters sixth grade?
Another change that is important at the middle school level is the opportunity for students to be involved in some decision-making. Our Leadership Council offers students the opportunity to make decisions, plan events, discuss concerns, and work together for school improvement. The fact that the Leadership Council has impact on the younger children is an added positive in terms of decision-making and leadership. Middle school students work for the best interests of the entire school community, rather than just their peer age group.
Extra-curricular activities are another important component of a middle school student’s education. Middle school students should be offered a variety of extra-curricular activities. These abound in a 4K-8 school. Students can choose from a variety of extra-curriculars, and are always given opportunities to compete in a wide variety of academic competitions. A major advantage of this occurring in a small 4K-8 school is that more students take advantage of these opportunities. In a large school setting it is easy for students to “stay in the background” and not explore their many talents and abilities. In our small school students encourage each other to participate in many experiences. This builds confidence and encourages continuing leadership roles at the high school level.