The Advantages of a Preschool to Eighth Grade School
Putting kids of different ages together makes them all better, according to the Head of School at Holy Child School at Rosemont.
By Thomas G. Lengel, Head of School, Holy Child School at Rosemont
Children today are bombarded with media and other messages, prodding them to grow up much faster than they ever used to. At Holy Child School at Rosemont, we have experienced great success through the years managing the demands of adolescence and mitigating its difficulties because of our structure as a preschool to eighth grade school.
At a time in their lives when children can be self-centered, our Middle School students are reminded that they are role models for our younger children. We promote this connection with traditions such as our “buddy program,” matching Middle School students with Lower School children in various activities, and through the modeling that our varsity athletes perform for our JV players.
Expecting such leadership from adolescents may seem counterintuitive, but it works well at Holy Child School at Rosemont. Our oldest students are leaders of student government, athletic captains, and the headliners in our performing ensembles and chorus. Our oldest students live and learn each day in a school community amidst younger children.
Our Middle School students are acutely aware of the responsibility they have to the Early Childhood and Lower School community, and they rise to the expectations we have for them to be good leaders and role models.
Also, at the developmental stage when children are most vulnerable to peer pressure and outside influence, why would we isolate middle schoolers and surround them only with peers of a similar age and outlook?
The presence of the younger children also helps to preserve a healthy level of innocence among our middle schoolers. And, without high school students around, there is no pressure for Middle School boys to act “cool” in order to gain favor from the popular older boys, or for the girls to try to dress and act like older students.
According to a report from the Fordham Institute, “Mayhem in the Middle: How middle schools have failed America — and how to make them work,” “there is clear evidence that the K-8 model has a significant positive impact on academic achievement, openness to learning, and student behavior.”
We witness those benefits daily at our school. And when prospective parents on admissions tours tell us how impressed they are with our oldest students, or when we hear repeatedly from admissions directors at local high schools how much they want to enroll our graduates, our commitment to the preschool-eighth grade format is validated.
Photographs courtesy of Holy Child School at Rosemont.