Understand the Advantages: Continuity in K-8 Education
When it comes to your child’s education, we all know how much is at stake, and how hard it can be to make some choices. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a school or potentially changing schools. Sometimes a change is unavoidable, but the value of continuity—especially in the early years of your child’s education, is incredibly important.
At Pardes Jewish Day School, we’ve seen how beneficial a continuous K-8 experience is for students. If they start with us and stay with us, their academic and social development is tremendous. Curriculum continuity and community continuity are two of the most essential factors for K-8 students, so let’s look at each of them.
The Unique Learning Opportunities with Curriculum Continuity
When children change schools, they often need to navigate:
- Differences in how the curriculum is structured and connected from one year to the next
- New norms and expectations in the classroom and school culture
- Learning from faculty and staff who do not know them or their needs yet
It is not always obvious, or easy to articulate how, but every single school is different. One of the ways we can see those differences is to look closely at how the curriculum is structured and how the elements fit together over time. The curriculum for one grade should be connected to what students have just learned, and pave the way for what they will learn as they advance.
At Pardes, we emphasize the 21st-century learning skills students need to succeed at every grade level. Parents see this reflected in the daily curriculum and in our Makerspace program. Our students grow in critical thinking and communication skills year by year because of the building blocks of our curriculum:
Kindergartners have a Scientist of the Week opportunity where they choose a topic, explore it with experiments, make presentations to their class, and lead others.
Fourth graders put more advanced communication and critical thinking skills to work when they create digital travel brochures about Arizona cities after doing their own research.
Fifth graders explore their own family histories and make presentations during our Exhibition of Learning, which brings these skills home in a more personal way.
Sixth graders in our Makerspace work together to plan a base people could live in for two years on Mars. It is an elaborate project that involves cutting-edge technology like 3D printers, which allow students to create real models of their work for presentations.
Seventh graders tackle real global issues we face back here on Earth and put their growing skills to work as they do research, generate ideas for solutions to these problems, and share those in presentations.
Eighth graders present original TED Talks as a kind of capstone experience.
From the very beginning, we have been teaching with an intentionally structured curriculum that fosters exploration, critical thinking, and communicating what they learn.
Community Continuity Supports Lifelong Learning
It is difficult to overstate the positive influence of a stable, supportive community for children as they are learning. When we allow our children to establish a firm foundation and build good, early associations with education, this is how we root a lifelong desire for learning.
Some general advantages of community continuity in the K-8 years include:
- Faculty get to know children and their learning styles better
- Teachers can collaborate to promote your child’s unique gifts and interests
- Secure connections with peers provide emotional safety where students flourish
- Familiarity fosters confidence in young students
- Lifelong friendships are cultivated
Pardes offers students all these key opportunities, but we also have a unique expression of community here in our Jewish values and heritage. The ways these things are woven into the student experience makes our community that much more vibrant and stronger. Of course, students don’t need to be Jewish to enroll here, but families need to feel comfortable with their child being exposed to Jewish learning and values in our community. This unity and cohesiveness makes a big difference in the lives of our students.
Each year our middle school students attend an orientation retreat, which has a tremendous impact on their relationships. Students collaborate, build trust, and practice communicating in a series of group exercises. We give them fun opportunities to see how living out their Jewish values can bring them closer to one another and their teachers, and it is transformational. This bonding experience makes an incredible difference back in the classroom!
Parents also see themes like Kavod (respect), TIkkun Olam (repairing the world) and L’dor V’Dor (from generation to generation) threaded throughout our community here.
Our third graders are reading buddies for the kindergartners.
Our fourth graders are T’fillah (prayer) buddies with the kindergartners and help them understand the prayer book.
Our sixth, seventh and eighth graders help lead in Jewish celebrations and events for our younger students.
Our eighth graders participate in the Better Together program, where they meet monthly with a Jewish senior citizen, share stories about their lives, write a reflection about their experience and have a celebration with the senior and eighth-grade parents.
Let’s Have a Conversation About Your Child’s Needs!
Parents come to us all the time with questions and concerns about their child’s education. We welcome these discussions at any stage of your child’s educational journey and will always be committed to what’s best for your child and your family.
If you are new to the area or considering Pardes as a new school for your child, come for a campus tour! There is no better way to understand the safe, warm, exciting educational community we have here than to experience it firsthand. We have several tour options for your family and look forward to meeting you soon.