Welcome to Middle School
The middle school team at Friends School Haverford is organized to support the unique social-emotional development of our fifth and sixth grade students. Common developmental characteristics among these students include: a desire to expand social circles, an increased need for peer approval, an increased desire for independence, a need to remain young and dependent. You may notice your child acting very grown-up one minute and rather childish the next. At school we support the students’ desire for larger social circles and independence in a safe and caring environment. We deliberately expand upon social skills developed during lower school years and support students’ further exploration into the larger world. The middle school teachers work closely as a team, devising the program, planning activities and overseeing each child’s progress and well-being.
Academically, the fifth and sixth grade programs are based upon an interdisciplinary, thematic approach to learning. We feel the children learn best through experience and reflection upon those experiences. And, since children process information in different ways, we provide a multi-faceted program that enables the child to build upon his/her strengths. We utilize a wide variety of resources and teaching techniques as we connect the disciplines of English, history, sociology, and anthropology. We collaborate with coordinate teachers in order to connect our exploration to science, art, music and health.
Our theme of Communication develops in the children a sensitivity towards different perspectives and empowers them to make changes in their world. Aside from increasing the student’s factual knowledge, we encourage them to explore new ideas, to respond freely and without prejudice to other ways of living and to understand how their lives touch upon and are touched by others.
All academic classes meet for at least the equivalent of one 40-minute period per day. English and mathematics classes are taught in mixed-grade homogeneous groups (fifth and sixth grade students together). Arranging students thus creates a larger social pool for middle school students, and allows us to tailor classes more precisely to meet the academic needs of each student.
The fifth and sixth grade students have a homeroom system that supports a new measure of independence for middle school students while ensuring that there is one special adult who is responsible for and available to each individual student with regard to all aspects of our program. During homeroom, we continue to build community and discuss the Quaker testimonies. We also cover study skill topics that include habits of organization, computer literacy, note taking, time management, and self advocacy. Topics are sequential and spiral back for additional reinforcement, as needed.
When middle school students help others, they build confidence in themselves and pride in their school community. For their weekly scheduled service work, students can create a service schedule based on their interests. Middle school students help staff the writing center, assist the Facilities Coordinator, and volunteer in the library, front and development offices, and classrooms around the school. By helping out around the school, middle school students develop relationships with adults and younger peers. Favorite service projects include aquarium maintenance and creating dresses for the Little Dresses organization, which distributes clothing to children living in thirty-one African countries.
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