Adolescents are taking their first steps into a bigger world–a world full of new relationships, growing opportunities and increasing responsibilities.
The tumult of discovery and independence truly is embraced and celebrated in our Middle Years program. And make no mistake, despite the bluster and bustle that sometimes accompanies burgeoning independence, these truly are tender years. In truth, adolescence has more in common with the early years of development than it does with adulthood. As always, with all of our programs, our academic design supports this developmentally unique stage.
Learning opportunities include:
For adolescents, the world is exploding in ways that it hasn’t since, well, perhaps preschool. Newfound independence, increasingly…complex…social interactions and a new threshold in learning prompt some existential questions: Who am I? Why does this matter? What does it mean? When will I figure it out? Where do I go from here? How do I get there? Does anyone care?
And what better place to embrace this than a place where you are seen, where you are known, where you are cared for. It’s a safe place to make mistakes. It’s a brave space to take risks. It’s a place to call “home” no matter what else happens in your world.
Really, that’s the essence of our 3 Pillars in Middle Years: Identity Formation, Authentic Connections, and Powerful Learning. Those are the roots of our program from which students can branch off and become…whoever it is they want to be in the world. Ironically, or perhaps, appropriately, the same principles that apply in the Early Years, are still intrinsically important in Middle Years.
Identity Formation is not so much a destination as a journey in life. And in adolescence this is a journey that gets a boost of adrenaline. This is a time of questions…questions…and more questions. Sometimes even a little defiantly. It’s a fact that only fourteen-year olds ask more questions than four-year olds. If you’ve ever been at a loss as to how to answer your child’s questions about relationships and conflict, love and hate, hope and despair…well, then, congratulations. You have the necessary prerequisites to navigate these years with us. Fortunately, our team has piloted the ship of Middle Years for many seasons and we welcome any enthusiastic sailors—no previous sailing experience required.
Authentic Connections and attachments to mentor teachers are the foundations on the road of adolescence where students take those first big steps into a wider world. Our Houses (Silver Birch, Red Cedar and Douglas Fir) become our students’ “home” while they are in Middle Years. Here, they’ll be supported in all things by their House teacher–academically, socially and emotionally–and build relationships with their peers that are both inside and outside their social group or grade cohort. This is a place for not only academic support, but also for those skills and competencies that will help them inside and outside of the school. Anywhere. Reflection, communication, and responsibility are words that come up consistently. And fun. Your House is where you’ll build… memories and those moments that anchor you as an alumni of Willowstone Academy. Whether in House games, the final House Cup challenge, that consummate year end trip or maybe the spontaneous celebration in Middle Years—you’ll have done it together.
And this is the fabric of Powerful Learning. Because powerful learning only happens in the context of real life. Because only when we feel empowered to take risks, and to be our authentic selves, can we be in a place where we’re ready for learning that really matters. And it takes everyone—teachers, students and parents—to be onboard. We will always attend to those foundational skills in literacy and numeracy that are so essential for success in any context. So… There will be some standardized tests. There will be homework (even when your child says they’re ‘done’). There will be projects that matter not just in the classroom, but in the world. There will be novels, poems, science experiments, math formulae, historical texts, new media, the fine arts, and field trips. And we’ll be there together.
And, in the end, it won’t be teachers and parents instructing the children what to do. It will be our students who can articulate, “This is what I did…this is what I would do differently…this is what I need to do next. And I’m not afraid to ask for help.”
That is our picture of a graduate. And we love the journey.
From your initial inquiry and tour, through the registration process, it is a joy for me to help you and your family navigate, answer questions, and unpack this next stage in your journey at Willowstone Academy!