How should the education programming change when a child reaches the 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 K-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. 

Here at St. Colette this concept is working well.  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.  

Our middle school staff meets 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 student council offers students the opportunity to make decisions, plan events, discuss concerns, and work together for school improvement. The fact that the student 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 K-8 school. Students can choose to participate in student council, choir, band, athletics, and are always given opportunities to compete in a wide variety of academic competitions. A major advantage of this occurring in a K-8 school is that more students take advantage of these opportunities. In a school setting with several hundred students, it is easy for a child to “stay in the background” and not explore their many talents and abilities. In our school, students invite and encourage each other to participate in many experiences. This builds confidence and encourages continuing leadership roles at the high school level.

St. Colette Catholic School 

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