Middle School

Looking Ahead to Middle School

Early adolescence (the 11-14 year old) is a time of rapid physical and psychological changes; a time when children simultaneously want to be seen and hope no one will notice them.

Beyond the familiar sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll minefields teenagers have always faced, there are more dangerous threats such as sexting, vaping, bullying, cyber-bullying, gender ideology, gaming and tech addictions, school violence and widespread incivility within the current popular culture of our teens, tweens and children. Add the social isolation and academic struggles of the pandemic lock-downs and the challenges can be overwhelming! This assault on childhood has far-reaching effects that are showing up as increased anxiety and sensory overloads, along with a diminished capacity for empathy, reasoned thinking, and self-management.

Middle School students have a real need for:

Identity – Children will examine (sometimes harshly) their parents, teachers, and peers in an effort to construct their own picture of who they want to be as an adult. They are searching for characteristics and qualities that will become their own identity. Adjusting to a new physical self in a suddenly unfamiliar body, new emotional capacities and intellectual abilities, their emerging question of ‘who am I’ becomes even more complex in these times of blurred expectations and fluid social and gender landscapes.

Students need a safe, trusting environment where challenges and questioning is welcome without judgment. Strong boundaries to bump up against will keep them safe while students practice trying on new roles and behaviors, even the challenging ones.

Social Connection – Friends are more relevant than parents or teachers, in that, children at this age learn through socialization and peer relationships. Peers are the influencers and arbiters of cultural norms. But while peers may be the best source of contemporary information and trends, they usually lack the emotional and relationship skills, life experiences, and maturity needed to develop a child’s sense of self.

Only when students establish a foundation of dependence and compliance with trusting adults can they begin to develop independence and healthy peer relationships. A student who experiences school as a safe place, with classmates and teachers as supportive, will be able to fully develop their own integrity, ethical conduct, initiative, compassion, critical-thinking skills, and self-confidence to navigate their world.

Autonomy & Privacy– Children must break away from their parents in order to practice decision making, yet this generation has grown up always being watched. This is the time when children push back, which is exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Rebellion is one of the most effective routes to autonomy. Therefore, adolescents not practiced in taking safe risks will be vulnerable to more extreme risk-taking behaviors or to becoming overwhelmed and immobilized.

Students who feel respected and held in high regard will rise up to meet the multitude of expectations placed upon them. A balance between students having individual choice along with realistic expectations and a clear path to success is necessary to learn to accept themselves and their world.

All children develop unevenly, and no time in their lives is this more evident than in the middle school years. Caulbridge School is unwavering when it comes to the critical areas for a child’s development. We directly support the challenges of adolescence with warmth, tolerance, guidance and coaching.

Academic Strength in Middle School

In traditional schools, academics tend to break down around Third Grade, when children go from learning to read to reading to learn, and from simple arithmetic to fractions and calculations.  Statewide, only 39% of Third graders are meeting or exceeding math standards, which drops to 35% in Fourth Grade, 30% in Fifth Grade, and 30% in Sixth Grade. This disparity sets up a classroom that is frustrating for the 30% of students who are meeting standards and want to learn; while making it impossible for the 70% who are not at grade level to be successful.

The chart below shows academic levels for all students statewide, for Marin County students, and for Caulbridge School students. Even when Sixth grade students entered Caulbridge School with academic deficits and missing some basic math facts, 76% of these students were able to fill in the missing pieces and meet or exceed grade level standards. 

Middle School Curriculum

Grade 6
Sixth graders have a desire for autonomy, and an increased curiosity.
Learning about properties of the earth and Roman history, forms the basis of lawfulness, connection and compassion.

Academics, arts and activities include:

  • Language arts: argumentative essay composition, creative writing, summary writing and paraphrasing, source evaluation, MLA formatting, classic literature, multi-cultural and contemporary literature, poetry, drama, non-fiction
  • Math: free-hand geometry and geometric drawing, business math
  • Science: geology, energy, environmental science, cellular biology
  • History: Ancient World Civilizations, Roman Society, Golden Age of Islam, Meso American Cultures
  • Cyber-civics, online safety and ethics
  • Chorus, ensemble, gardening, clay, painting, habitat restoration

Learn more about our middle school electives here

Grade 7
Seventh graders have a desire for expanded perspective and a wider worldview.
Learning about ratios, algebraic concepts and perspective drawing forms the basis of inclusiveness, balance and social responsibility.

Academics, arts and activities include:

  • Language arts: argumentative essay composition, use of academic sources, advanced source evaluation, creative writing, contemporary literature, world literature, Renaissance literature, non-fiction
  • Math: ratio and proportion, angles, algebraic concepts and processes
  • Science: chemistry, structure and properties of matter, planetary studies, matter and energy in organisms, health education
  • Medieval World History, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Exploration, the Scientific Revolution
  • Cyber-civics, online safety and ethics
  • Chorus, ensemble, woodworking, carving, pottery, perspective drawing, habitat restoration

Learn more about our middle school electives here

Grade 8
Eighth graders have a desire for reasoning and conceptual thinking.
Learning about the Golden ratio, history and current events forms the basis of critical thinking and sense of belonging.

Academics, arts and activities include:

  • Language arts: research-based report writing, advanced MLA formatting, annotated bibliography compilation, book reports, multi-cultural and contemporary literature, American literature, poetry, drama
  • Math: geometry, Golden mean, factoring binomials and polynomials
  • Science: engineering design, waves and electromagnetic radiation, forces and interactions, natural selection and adaptation, genetics
  • US History and Geography, pre-Revolutionary War through Industrial  Revolution, ongoing current events
  • Cyber-civics, online safety and ethics
  • Chorus, ensemble, woodworking, carving, pottery, archery, habitat restoration

Now Enrolling!

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Contact Info

One St. Vincent Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: (415) 481-1243
Email: admin@caulbridgeschool.org

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