Middle School Mindset: Partnering with Parents
When families choose Crofton House School for their daughters, they join a caring community of educators and parents who are uniquely attuned to girls’ academic and social needs at a significant time in their development.
Crofton House School meets girls in Grades 6 and 7 with a Middle School program that is tailored to the whole girl -- including her social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. It’s a place where she will find support and guidance as she grows her passion for learning, develops her sense of self and relationship to others, and finds her voice.
We believe a successful Middle School program is responsive, challenging, empowering, equitable, and engaging. Teachers and staff strive to create an environment where students feel a sense of belonging, and lay the groundwork for students to form healthy connections with trusted adults.
Growing independence through connection and confidence
The middle school years are one of the most significant developmental periods in a young person’s life. The only other time when developmental changes and brain capacity growth are happening as rapidly is between birth and two years of age. It’s a time when she is changing physically, intellectually, morally, socially and emotionally—and the school experience must keep pace.
Middle school-aged girls are creative, energetic and social, placing a high value on relationships. In the transition from childhood to adolescence, self-awareness and social connection take on new importance.
“At this age, they start to discover who they are and naturally they will start to push themselves in a positive, normal way away from their parents,” says Kerry Harding, Program Coordinator, Grade 6–7, Junior School.
“What we do is partner with parents to make sure they still feel aligned with what their child is going through in terms of social and -emotional wellbeing, and in terms of what they’re doing at school in academic programming.”
Our rigorous and integrated academic program meets the middle school girl’s readiness for challenge with an inquiry-based approach to learning focused on growth, enrichment and personal best.
We also know through research that girls in single-gender schools are more academically adventurous, openly curious, and engaged in their communities.
“These are critical years for parents to help kids take risks, and we have to do that at a time when they are mercilessly self-critical and risk-averse,” says Phyllis L. Fagell, a licensed clinical professional counsellor, certified professional school counsellor, journalist, and author of Middle School Matters.
That’s why the Crofton House Middle School program intentionally nurtures self-awareness and self-confidence, allowing students to flourish as they cultivate their sense of purpose, connection and joy.
In an all-girls’ learning environment, students have the freedom to be themselves, voice their ideas and grow their confidence alongside peers who share their motivation and passion for learning. We also know through research that girls in single-gender schools are more academically adventurous, openly curious, and engaged in their communities.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as a foundation for flourishing
Crofton House prioritizes Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) integration in its K-12 curriculum, recently adding two coordinators of student wellbeing and social and emotional learning to our staff. Social connection and relationships are essential to thriving at this age, and our faculty understand that optimal learning can’t happen until a student is in a well-regulated headspace.
Time is dedicated to teaching relational skills like self and social awareness, empathy and communication, using SEL to help normalize emotions and teach tools and strategies to share how we’re feeling, and how to self-regulate. “We need to show students real-life situations so they can apply these skills on the playground, or in communicating when they need support in the classroom,” said Chantal Eady, Coordinator of Student Well-Being & Social and Emotional Learning. “It’s really giving them the power to advocate for themselves and be comfortable in their own skin.”
We know it is unique for girls to change schools in Grade 6, when Crofton House welcomes 26 new students into the community. Faculty and staff intentionally care for new students so they can transition easily and quickly develop a sense of belonging. Each day begins with form time which is dedicated to establishing meaningful connections with teachers and peers. Along with a focused SEL curriculum, time is built in for community building. We know for girls everything centres on relationships and teachers take the time to ensure these are established for each student at this important stage. Our commitment to a balanced day includes enjoying a warm lunch together in our dining hall as well as generous time outside on our beautiful campus, making space in each day to build and strengthen these relationships within their new community.
It is unique for girls to change schools in Grade 6, when Crofton House welcomes 26 new students into the community. Faculty and staff intentionally care for new students so they can transition easily and quickly develop a sense of belonging.
“Some days, teachers are delivering curated social and emotional lessons that focus on the growth and development of the students' sense of self—be it writing poetry to further explore their self-identity and/or deep discussions on our multicultural identity and recognizing the different lenses and perspectives we come to school with,” said Sarah Edington, Grade 6/7 Humanities Teacher.
“Other days, students might be given the opportunity to explore different sensory stations set up around the classroom, to play, wonder, and explore without constraints of learning objectives or assessment influencing their creativity. This time can be community-building activities such as talking circles that investigate what makes positive and healthy relationships and friendships. Or it can be dance parties and bad-joke telling competitions, as laughter can be the fastest and easiest way to set up a Middle School student for a day of motivation and success.”
Our Middle School teaching team are experts in girls at this age -- dedicated to supporting students’ diverse individual learning needs, understanding their strengths and optimizing opportunities for growth.
“When teachers can connect with things students enjoy doing out of school, the 'buy-in’ to the learning they do is more authentic,” said Alexis Mauricio, Teacher, Grade 7, Junior School. “In other words, if teachers 'get' their students at this stage, it helps to facilitate the learning going on in the classroom.”
Prepared for any future she chooses
It is empowering for both parents and students navigating the transition to adolescence to recognize that these changes are normal and to gain a better understanding of how to manage and integrate them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has meant students have a greater need for help to support connecting, managing workload, and navigating social restrictions.
“If there is an issue, we treat each situation based on that individual child and what’s going on with them in their life,” says Ms. Harding. Through social and emotional learning, daily check-ins, growing self-awareness, and a whole girl approach, Crofton House teachers, peers and parents have helped our students strengthen their resilience and prepare for what’s next.
Our Middle School students are kind and confident young women with a sense of purpose, who have the agency to express themselves and advocate for each other. They are community-minded individuals preparing for the progressive challenges and opportunities ahead of them in the Senior School and on any future path they choose to follow.
We look forward to welcoming Grade 6 students into our Middle School to contribute to this dynamic community.
“What we do is partner with parents to make sure they still feel aligned with what their child is going through in terms of social and emotional wellbeing, and in terms of what they’re doing at school in academic programming.”
Kerry Harding | Program Coordinator Grade 6–7, Junior School
Sessions with Experts
Each year, we welcome experts to help educate and inform on subject areas that matter to the Middle School community, including sessions for students, teachers and parents. In the 2020-2021 school year, CHS held audience-specific sessions with the following guests:
- Dr. Theresa Newlove: Trauma-Informed Practice (presented in partnership with the CHS Parents’ Auxiliary)
- Phyllis Fagell: Middle School Matters
- Dr. Jeff Hancock: Technology Use and Wellbeing
- Lisa Dion: Resolving Conflict and Self-Regulation
- Stephanie Dang: Healthy Relationship with Food
- Dr. Tina Payne Bryson: Parenting in a Pandemic (presented in partnership with the CHS Parents’ Auxiliary)