Photo: 5th Grade &
1st Grade Student
together. (Sept. 2018)
Blog: BEING YOURSELF
What positive characteristics
does a K-8 school bring out in
middle school age students?
Middle school is a time of great self-awareness, self-obsession, self-absorption…..see a pattern here? Yes, middle school age children are very concerned with themselves…their appearance, their ability to make friends, their emotions, their independence, and the way they are viewed by others, especially their peers. These students are often uneasy speaking in front of people, being seen with their parents, or doing anything that would affect the way they are perceived by others. They are very self-conscious about how the things they say, do, or feel will be viewed and judged by their peers. For that reason, they often stifle emotions, reactions, and responses that they actually feel at the risk of losing their “reputation”.
In a K-8 school like St. Colette, middle school children have the opportunity to grow into leaders, and still be children. Where else but a small K-8 setting would you find middle school age children willing to stand proudly with the whole school to recite the school creed, stop on the way outside to tie a first grade partner’s shoes, or help on a project with their Kindergarten partner?
Being in a school with smaller children allows these students to express those true emotions that might be viewed with criticism and intolerance in a strictly middle school setting.
In short, being in a building with younger children allows middle school children to both continue to enjoy childhood, and enjoy leadership roles in the school.
Middle school students as mentors?
We do not often think of a middle school age student as a mentor. But in our K-8 school that’s what they are! At St. Colette, students in the upper grades "buddy up" with a student from the lower grades. This mentoring relationship is a valuable part of both partner’s education. It warms our hearts to see an eighth grader guiding their Kindergarten grade partner on the finer points of proper church behavior through modeling and encouragement. I love seeing the excitement on the Kindergartners faces when they see their "big kid friends" in the hallway.