As parents, the task of deciding where and how our children will be educated can be daunting. With so many options to choose from, from public school to private, charter school to homeschooling, the decision can be challenging, even for education as early as preschool.
At St. Luke’s Lutheran School in Oviedo, we’re proud to be a K4–8 school. We accept students at all grade levels within our structure, but we’ve found that there are certain advantages of going through the entire K4–8 program at St. Luke’s. Here are the top five reasons why we’re on board with this learning model:
1. Increases Students’ Sense of Stability
A 2016 study published by the American Educational Research Association found that students who attended K–8 schools had better academic, social and emotional development than those who completed elementary, middle and high school in the traditional model.
Growing minds need a sense of security and familiarity to make them feel stable in their ability to learn. The K–8 model allows for exactly that—a place with familiar faces, a nurturing environment and plenty of academic challenges that prepare students to excel as they progress to higher grade levels.
2. Promotes More Peer-to-Peer Accountability
It’s not uncommon for students who go through the traditional middle school model to feel caught in the middle—not old enough yet to feel like “top dogs” at school but old enough to have higher expectations placed on them than elementary-aged students.
With the K–8 model, older students are encouraged to be role models for the little ones—a job many are proud to take very seriously. These students take on early leadership opportunities that help ready them for high school/continued education, as well as increase their level of confidence and self-esteem.
3. Establishes Stronger Sense of Community
When students feel a sense of community, they’re inclined to support each other and further strengthen their connections with one another. Because the K–8 model is designed to nurture students from a young age and for a longer period of time than traditional models, it’s common for students to feel recognized more, to feel valued as an individual and to feel like they’re part of a family.
4. Allows Choosing a High School to Be a Team Effort
When children are in early development, it’s up to their parents to decide how and where they will receive their education. By seventh and eighth grade, however, a child has had the chance to really develop his/her strengths, understand more clearly what their interests and passions are, and learn how to start making bigger decisions that will impact their future.
Once a student has gone through the K–8 education model, they are well-equipped to be more actively involved in the process with their parents/guardians, and in turn, make more educated, responsible decisions on which high school (and even college) would be the best fit for them.
These are big decisions, and the K–8 model helps prepare students to make important choices like those with their family, rather than parents having to dictate the conversation.
5. Sets a Path for Success in High School Years and Beyond
According to a study released by Martin West—Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education—students who graduated from elementary schools to attend middle schools for sixth or seventh grade “lost ground in both reading and math compared to their peers who attend K–8 schools.” He also went on to report that students who attended a traditional middle school in sixth grade were 1.4 times more likely than K–8 students to dropout of high school by 10th grade—an increase of 18 percent.