5 Reasons to Send Your Child to a Catholic Middle School
A child’s educational journey will see many stages over the twelve years they are in school before deciding whether or not to pursue higher education at the college level. During elementary school, the years between kindergarten and fifth grade, students not only acquire the basic skills of reading and writing, but they also learn what it means to be a student. In high school, students begin to decide which career path they might take, or if they will pursue a college education. I maintain that middle school, sixth through eighth grade, are the most formative years of a child’s academic and social development. Middle school students go through many changes physically, socially, and emotionally. A safe and supportive school environment is critical to a child’s development. There are five critical elements to consider when contemplating sending your child to a Catholic Middle School. They are the coed educational environment, putting one’s faith into action, acquiring and refining leadership skills, developing executive functioning skills, and value.
Coed Educational Environment
Many people have debated whether coed or single-sex schools have more benefits for students. The fact remains that research over the years suggests is not conclusive if one system has an advantage over another. Like most decisions in life, the decision to send your child to a coed or same-sex school should be made by families depending on the needs of the child.
Students who do not have a chance to work with students of the opposite gender can, at times, not develop the skills to interact with the opposite sex. By practicing these interactions in a controlled environment, such as school, students can master these social skills and prepare them for life working in group settings in the workforce. Boys and girls learn and process things differently, and a coed environment gives students the chance to learn how to work with one another. This diversity in the classroom allows students to learn how to treat each other with dignity and respect. The result is that students learn that males and females each add value and contribute to society equally.
Faith in Action
Catholic middle schools also allow students to put their faith into action. Whether you are Catholic or not, everyone can agree that middle school students are idealistic by nature. By attending a Catholic middle school, students learn how to integrate their faith, idealism, and intellect and put these components into action. At The School of the Cathedral, we do this by having students participate in overnight retreats, service opportunities, and conduct research on social justice issues. This research is then presented to the community via public speaking events, or in the times of virtual learning this past spring, by developing websites to share the knowledge that they have gained.
The middle school students long for independence. However, when starting sixth grade, many students have not had the chance to take on many leadership roles. At Cathedral, our middle school students serve as prayer buddies for the kindergarten, first, and second grade students. Additionally, the students participate in an active student government, lead fundraisers, plan and lead liturgies, compete on athletic teams, robotic teams, chess teams, and form a variety of clubs that meet after school, including book clubs and the middle school play. This affords the students a chance to explore their interests and find a creative niche to delve into their passions.
Executive Functioning Skills
While developing their leadership skills and putting their faith into action, students must also meet the rigorous academic requirements Catholic schools maintain in middle school. At Cathedral, our community of middle school teachers knows each student. Every child has an adult advocate to help them be successful. This is evidenced in the executive functioning skills the students develop. Teachers work with students to help manage their time, goal setting, and long term planning. Furthermore, the focus on critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration provides students time to practice working with others while trying to achieve their own academic goals.
Catholic middle schools provide excellent value to the students and their families. Although Catholic middle schools are tuition-driven, the value proposition is undeniable. Smaller class sizes mean that no child falls through the cracks and students are seen as partners in their education rather than empty vessels into which knowledge would be poured. While public schools are not tuition-driven, they can struggle to provide the same level of service to families due to the larger school population. Independent private schools can offer a similar degree of service, but the tuition rates at these schools are often ten to twenty thousand dollars more a year. The fact that Catholic schools such as Cathedral offer generous tuition assistance packages means that providing your child a Catholic middle school education is more affordable and attainable than you might think.
-Michael Wright, Principal, The School of the Cathedral
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