The Middle School Experience

Middle School is a formative time for young minds as they move from their tween to teen years. It's a vital time to build the habits, outlooks and foundational skills that will carry them through high school and beyond.

The Middle School Experience
Middle School students
Part 1: Overview of the Middle School

DaVinci Academy Middle School is built on the same ideals of hands-on learning, student agency, personal attention and goals of mastery as in the younger grade levels. Throughout the K-8 program, learning is the constant and time is the variable, which leads to more personalized learning.

When children can take the time to master a difficult concept, or test out of studies that they already know, deeper understanding, higher student engagement, and "ownership" of one's education are the result. Students who know that their goal is full understanding of their materials, and who have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and knowledge through purposeful use can enjoy and begin to take charge of their learning.

This approach is excellent for self-agency, self-reflection and self-esteem.

The DaVinci Academy Difference. True, effective learning comes from students' authentic interest and self-motivation. Academic success comes from key skills: a rich and solid academic foundation, a large toolbox of study skills, organizational skills, goal setting, persistence, growth mindset, self-insight, and the right kind and amount of struggle.

Middle School is a formative time for young minds as they move from their tween to teen years. It's a vital time to build the habits, outlooks and foundational skills that will carry them through high school and beyond. The relationships and support they receive from teachers, parents, peers and administrators during this period can make all the difference in their future success.

"The teachers are working personally with the students each day and are aware of successes, challenges, and the personal interests of each child. The teaching team keeps in touch through progress meetings and quick alerts when there are specific needs. They can tailor the program to the child – providing higher level science lab courses to a student who is ready for the challenge, or allowing a student to test out of the grammar or spelling materials if they already know it.

"The goal is personal and academic growth for each child toward competence and confidence, with the right amount of struggle," explained the Head of School in a recent talk to parents.

"You might wonder if you're making the right choices for your child. It's easy to second guess oneself when a friend is doing something else. When making a decision, it's important to consider what outcomes you want most for your child by the end of 8th grade."

Students gather around an exhibit at the Japanese American Museum in San Jose as they listen to their tour guide.

DaVinci Academy Middle School graduates are usually accepted at their private high school of choice, or follow the Honors/AP route in public high school. Here's what they say:

  • My study skills and good habits from Middle School carried me through high school and college. I know how to get "unstuck" and how to clear up confusions in study, which has been useful in higher level, more technical classes.
  • The other students would ask me what the assignments were or what we needed to do. I was more accustomed to managing my coursework and seemed to be better at listening, understanding and writing down what the teacher said.
  • I was sometimes surprised when information or ideas in history, science, literature or geography that I knew and thought was common knowledge turned out to be new data to others. I think the combination of all the books we read plus the in-depth independent courses gave me more than I thought!
  • I used a lot of my Middle School experiences – and particularly the philosophy of the school that I made my own – in my college application essays. I was accepted to several of my top schools, including the Honors program at one.
  • I am still in touch with my Middle School friends. We became a close-knit group and have kept that friendship even if we went to different high schools and colleges. The classroom spirit of collaboration and encouraging each other that comes from mastery learning kept us pushing and supporting each other even years later.
  • The transition to high school was not hard at all. Yes, the campus was bigger and I was new, but I was really well prepared. I was able to go into higher math and Honors English, and I found the courses to be easy. Making friends was not a problem. People were interested in meeting someone new.