Why Middle School at Arches? Some Frequently Asked Questions
Middle school is a time for sometimes major changes and significant reassessments. Students are beginning to mature and develop in new and different ways that they aren’t used to, and things that seemed to work in elementary school are no longer sufficient. In this transitional period, parents find themselves asking questions they haven’t had to ask before. You might be looking around, researching all the various options, wondering which is the best. Wondering Why should I send my student to middle school at Arches Academy? Here are our answers to some of these important questions.
(Make sure you check out our middle school 6-week recaps and teacher spotlights. Links at the bottom of this blog post!)
Don’t Middle School students want diverse class options? Does Arches Academy provide that?
It can be easy to be impressed by the humongous list of elective offerings in some of the public schools. (Wood shop! Astronomy! Fire dancing!). But the question remains, are these classes high quality, with in depth coverage in each subject, or are they merely a way to entertain the hundreds (thousands?) of kids that need to be watched over every day? It’s up in the air whether your student will leave a specific class truly knowledgeable in that area. However, exposure to a wide variety of interesting subjects is vital to a holistic and engaging educational experience, and Arches Academy provides this for all our students to a much larger degree than public schools are able to do. We do this through mini-courses in student-chosen subjects such as astronomy, archery, skiing, spy history, and much more. This means students are not exposed to only one new field, but many. Core subjects such as math, science, and language arts are also integrated into these mini-courses. Each student is also exposed to a diversity of subjects in regular classes such as foreign language, music and fine arts, yoga, computer tech, and more. This approach provides an integrated and rounded experience that keeps students interested and engaged.
What about things like band/orchestra/choir/drama/sports?
Do you remember cliques in your junior high and high school? There were the “band” kids, the “orchestra” kids, the jocks, the drama geeks, etc. While being heavily involved in an extracurricular such as these is wonderful and can teach dedication and hard work, at this age the risk is over-exclusivity, and lack of exposure in other areas. As mentioned before, middle schoolers at Arches Academy are exposed to a wide range of subjects. In addition, many of our students choose after-school options ranging from music lessons, dance, gymnastics, rock climbing, and more. These professional options are more targeted to the student’s and family’s specific interests, and more thorough than a middle school class could be.
What happens after 9th Grade?
This is indeed a challenging question, and one that each family will have to address individually. However, it is beneficial to receive the advantages Arches Academy has to offer for as long as possible. We have had several new additions to our middle school throughout the school year, with students coming from several different schools in the valley, for a variety of reasons. Some students have come to arches from situations where they feel overloaded and lost in the crowd. Others feel bored and unengaged. At Arches Academy, these students have found individualized and engaging learning that has made their middle school years the best they can be.
Isn’t middle school when students start being exposed to bullying, peer pressure, and harmful social or online influences? Is preventing that even possible?
These are incredibly important concerns, especially in today’s society. With the horrific stories we hear about some schools in the news, it’s easy to want to keep your child in a safe, protected, wi-fi free room in your own home. Short of that, these negative and harmful influences can be avoided by placing your child in a school where class sizes are small, allowing teachers and administration to know each child as an individual. This allows teachers to manage classrooms in ways that create a positive, trusting, and safe environment. It allows for parents and teachers to be in regular formal and informal communication. At Arches Academy, each child is known not just to their own teachers, but to all teachers and administration, and teachers regularly text back and forth with parents to let them know how their child is doing. This means that parents and trusted teachers are aware of exactly what situation their child is in every day. This means that your child can stay safe.
But my child still needs well-rounded socialization and exposure to diversity at this age, don’t they?
We’ve talked in another post about the misconception of private schools as being “elitist” and homogenous, and the more diverse reality at Arches Academy. We welcome families from a wide variety of demographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Our international exchange program thrives in our middle school, and last year one of our international students placed first in BYU’s science fair. Our middle school students also have the opportunity to travel around the country, and the end of year trips for last years middle schoolers include Catalina Island and a tour of the civil war sites in the southern states.
How much responsibility should my middle schooler be taking for their own education? Am I supposed to nag them? Leave them to their own devices?
Development of a sense of autonomy and independence really starts happening around this age. Middle schoolers are especially conscious of being listened to and respected. They want to start taking a larger role in decision making in their own lives. But this can be a delicate balance to strike. With middle school students involved in student council, as well as through our Leader in Me program, students are able to provide input for their own education, learn leadership and self-management skills, and take a driving role in their academic career. At the same time, small class sizes means that our highly-qualified teachers can provide structure, guidance, and learning on an individualized level, creating an environment where each student can be successful.
Figuring out how to navigate these important years in your child's life is not an easy challenge. But with the right kind of support, your middle school student can not only survive, but thrive.
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