Blue

Adolescence and Middle School

Adolescent Development - Awkward and Exciting!

Middle school marks the beginning of adolescence – the period of growth between childhood and adulthood.  In this season students begin an exciting and at times awkward journey toward maturity. They experience unique and rapid changes in themselves and others – physical, intellectual, social and spiritual.  We view these changes not as disruptions in our school but as opportunities for students, parents and teachers to trust God’s sovereignty over these changes (Proverbs 3:5-6), embrace new responsibilities and increasing freedoms, and acknowledge that young adolescents are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139:14).  With these developments in mind, we help students develop habits of the mind that students can use repeatedly throughout life and that are necessary for a life of learning.  We create rites of passage throughout middle school to mark progress in the lives of our students.  We seek to awaken and set in action the minds of our students throughout the school day with lots of hands-on work and projects, debates and dramatic performances, writing and discussion, as well as field trips, guest speakers, presentations, and games.  We employ various teaching methods in class that engage students and integrate different subjects wherever possible.  When the capacity for abstract thought begins to show, students will begin to think carefully and critically as well as construct and evaluate arguments systematically. 

Spiritual Development - A Crucial Time for Spiritual Formation

When students enter middle school, most have a basic understanding of the gospel yet have not fully understood the place of responsibility for personal choices to grow more like Christ.  We believe that choices really do count at this stage.  Students learn that being a Christian is not merely a profession of faith but involves denying themselves, being accountable for their choices, taking up their crosses, and daily following Jesus (Luke 9:23-25).  We help students to see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:10-12), realize that they can never earn God’s acceptance by living morally (Romans 3:20), respond to God’s love for them in the gospel (Romans 5:8), and grow in a personal relationship with God.  While students systematically read through the Bible in middle school, we teach them to confirm the faithfulness of God as they choose to trust his promises (Hebrews 10:23).  And we encourage students to examine and test their faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) so that they may make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:3-11).

Character and Leadership Development - Christian Virtues in Action

As God continues to reveal himself to our students and they respond personally to the gospel, we expect students to grow in holy character.  Students should not merely comply with external standards but begin to internalize God’s values and priorities, especially courage, discipline, faith, honor, and unity.  Other values include fear of God, peacemaking skills, responsibility, honor toward authority, self-control, encouragement, servanthood, and biblical friendships.  In our experience, the temptations of peer-pressure and the fear of man provide us significant opportunities to help students put their hope in God instead of man (Psalm 146:3-5) and develop a biblical self-image rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Middle school is often a time for students to turn away from living according to their own foolish outlooks and instead to submit to God’s wisdom and authority (Proverbs 2:1-5).  Temptations to pride and self-sufficiency often accompany the increased independence and responsibilities of middle school and we encourage students to demonstrate humility by seeking help from God and others, especially authority in their lives (1 Peter 5:5-7).

Academic Development - Building Skills and Nurturing Curiosity

We organize our schedule with both long and short periods of time around different subjects.  Students move to different classrooms and are taught by an increasing amount of teachers.  Teachers use uniform classroom rules to manage instructional time and help students understand classroom expectations.  We train our students in habits of the mind that include the art of learning for themselves, how to think and argue correctly, and a love for learning by emphasizing grammar, critical reading, clear writing, defining terms, making true statements and detecting fallacies, as well as study skills and self-discipline in all subjects.  We attempt to inspire a love for learning and make knowledge attractive by using these habits with what is important in the lives of our students.  Preparing students for high school, we offer a broad range of subjects.  We explore the foundational knowledge as well as the big picture of each subject area so that more in depth study can be pursued later in high school.  Students are often curious about the why? for many things, so we investigate causes and their relationships with what we study.  Teachers motivate by setting challenges in front of students, showing personal care, and looking for and praising the unique qualities, interests and gifts God has given each student, as well as by introducing different vocations in which those interests and gifts can be used.

Relational Development - Making Life-Long Friends

Although these years can be awkward and insecure, middle school students are young adults.  Students are trying out new interests and exploring new gifts.  They are stirring one another up in love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24), realizing that they are more fruitful serving together as a community.  Since self-awareness and peer-pressure are more pronounced during this time, students can focus more on differences than similarities between themselves – sometimes they can be cruel.  In this kind of context we believe love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), and we train our students to live at peace with their neighbor.  God is maturing our students and we are cooperating with what he is doing by discouraging foolishness and providing a safe and Christ-centered environment so that our students can have a positive middle school experience.

 

Middle School Objectives - The Whole Child

  • Develop habits of the mind (study skills, logical thinking, love for learning)
  • Grow in a personal relationship with God
  • Display growing godly character

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