A key benefit of the JK-through-grade-8 model in place at Chicago City Day School is the fact that older students can act as true leaders and mentors on campus.
This happens in a variety of ways at City Day. One powerful example is when older students visit a younger grade's classroom and work with the students there.
City Day's sixth-graders recently visited the grade 2 classroom to share a creative writing project with the second-graders. This happened a week after eighth-graders acted as "reading buddies" with the first-graders.
Activities like these help older students understand the rewards, and responsibilities, of mentoring young learners and taking on the role of leaders — an experience that serves them well as they transition to high school. Younger students, meanwhile, benefit from having positive role models on campus.
"The kids were in awe having older students in their classroom," said Melanie Mathews, a grade 2 teacher at City Day.
Prior to their visit, the sixth-graders had composed original adventure stories about the Yeti, a folkloric creature said to live in snowy mountain regions. The students focused on the use of descriptive language in their stories, which were illustrated by classmates.
The sixth-graders then read their stories aloud to the second-graders.
The kids were in awe having older students in the classroom. Melanie Mathews Grade 2 Teacher
"They enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate confidence in their writing and reading skills," grade 6 teacher Jennifer Michels said about her students. "And they really enjoyed getting to know the younger students better. This activity encouraged a sense of community between the two grades."
Both Ms. Michels and Mrs. Mathews said the second-graders listened to the stories with rapt attention.
"They remembered the actual sequence of events for many of the stories!" Mrs. Mathews said.
Prior to the grade 6-grade 2 activity, City Day eighth-graders visited the grade 1 classroom to serve as "reading buddies" with the younger students.
Excitement was clearly visible on the first-graders' faces when the eighth-graders arrived to read to them. And the younger students were able to look at work completed by the "big kids" back when they were first-graders themselves.
See additional photos from these activities below.