A Private Middle School Curriculum: Grades 6-8
A New Stage
A different kind of private school, located in Rockland County, New York, close to Bergen County, New Jersey, Green Meadow’s integrated Lower School curriculum broadens in Middle School, where students are engaged in a new way, appropriate for this developmental stage filled with rapid growth and transformation. Designed to engage the tumultuous, questioning inner life of the young person aged 12-14, our private middle school curriculum helps students connect their experiences with their education and begin to develop analytic thinking.
The Class Teacher
The Class Teacher often guides students through several years, potentially remaining a cohort’s class teacher for multiple grades. This long-term relationship benefits by seeing the children through a continuity of development, creating established routines, and providing stability for the students as they develop and transform. Class Teachers are supported by a constellation of expert subject teachers who share in shepherding the class through the years. Classes of students grow together from 1st through 12th Grades and form strong, familial bonds. These threads of relationship form a social and human foundation from which the education grows.
The Main Lesson
Each day at Green Meadow begins with “main lesson,” a period of one hour and 40 minutes in which a given academic subject is studied intensively, in a block that last three to four weeks, allowing for an in-depth study and integration of the material.
At our unique private middle school, students are presented with concepts and skills in language arts, math, science, and social studies. The concepts introduced to the students reflect where they are in their development and grow increasingly more sophisticated and rigorous as they mature. Integrating art with all academic work develops new ways of thinking and working, as the students literally take the work into their own hands. Our students experience a deep investment in their learning as they create their main lesson books with compositions, observations, illustrations, and diagrams of their studies.
A Private Middle School Curriculum
In grades 6-8, students are writing research papers and essays. By 8th grade, they are discussing books such as The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass and A Tale of Two Cities.
In middle school, students complete the language of algebra before entering High School. Our holistic approach extends to the math curriculum in many ways. Students learn about fractions while learning how to read music, with its whole and half notes. Lessons on geometry include biographies of early geometers and ancient cultures, and students learn to use a compass and straightedge to make geometric constructions and proofs. Correlations with art, architecture, business, and culture are explored, whether students are developing their own small business to raise funds for a local charity, or working to understand how the golden mean relates to ancient Greek temples. Math explains the world around us, and our teachers keep this connection alive for our students.
Formal studies in the sciences continue in middle school, with astronomy in 6th grade, and human physiology, anatomy, and chemistry in 7th and 8th grades.
GEOGRAPHY, CULTURE, AND HISTORY
World history begins in 5th grade, leading the children into recorded events. The 5th graders learn about the Golden Age of Greece, the Persian Empire, and the meteoric rise of Alexander. These studies continue with the empire of Rome and its contemporaries in Africa and Asia, the Medieval period, the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration, and finally, in 8th grade, the Age of Revolutions and modern history. The study of geography continues as well, until students have studied all of the earth’s surface by 8th grade.
THE ARTS AND DRAMA
Alongside this rich academic curriculum, the students draw, paint, memorize poetry, and perform plays with their Class Teacher. Each class performs a play every year, culminating with a full-length play in the 8th grade. Recent plays/musicals have included "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," "West Side Story," and "The Sound of Music." By the time a student has reached 8th grade, he or she will have acted in many roles and helped with set design, lighting, and costuming.
In addition to the creative learning taking place in the academic subject areas, specialty classes, taught by a core of talented teachers, round out the curriculum at our innovative private school. Students take classes in Spanish from 1st through 8th grades and continue their study in our private High School, where a majority also choose to go on an international exchange. Students also develop strong, coordinated bodies and spacial awareness in movement classes like Games and Eurythmy. They learn to knit, crochet, felt, and sew. They will carve bowls, make wooden toys, and explore the medium of clay in middle school woodworking and clay classes. All students sing and learn various instruments in music class, and also take up a string instrument beginning in 3rd grade orchestra. They may later branch out into any band or orchestral instrument in 5th grade.
Beginning in 3rd grade, each class will go away on an overnight trip each year. After the 3rd grade farm trip, students in subsequent years will go on camping trips, where they will canoe, hike, raft, stargaze, and use survival skills. Classes in the upper grades will often take field trips to Boston; Washington, DC; and Philadelphia, focusing on the rich history of these cities. Teachers have the freedom to schedule trips that enrich the social fabric of the class, such as 8th and 1st graders ice skating together at Bear Mountain, or trips that deepen a classes study of the curriculum, such as trips to observe and draw the Hudson River in a study of local geography. We are privileged to take advantage of our close proximity to New York City: classes can tour the New York Botanical Gardens, hear Gregorian chants at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and visit many museums.
A Multifaceted Education
As a unique private school with an "uncommon core," we are proud to see our students go on to become scientists and craftspeople, artists and musicians, writers and mathematicians, dancers and athletes, linguists and actors. They receive a Renaissance education, with a wide range of skills and knowledge of an impressive array of subjects. The broad and deep experiences developed at Green Meadow give students the freedom to choose what they wish to pursue in college and beyond.