About Our Class
The Middle class includes students in the “middle years” — roughly grades 3, 4 and 5, and approximately ages 8-11. By definition, this group encompasses a wide range of interests and abilities and a high level of energy and enthusiasm! The New School’s integrated process approach to education is evident everywhere in the Middle Class work. Children learn through participating in a project-based working environment that changes and grows as its participants bring their individual interests, personalities, learning styles and skills to this setting.
Each year brings this class together in new and dynamic ways. The key elements in the creation of the classroom environment are the people who come together every day and contribute to the educational process. The Middle Class students, themselves, are happy and excited to come to school and are aware of themselves as partners in their own education. We are also fortunate to have many adults who give of their time and talents to add variety and depth to the children’s experience. Classroom support staff includes assistant teachers, available on a consistent basis and allowing for one-on-one help whenever needed, and specialty teachers providing opportunities in particular areas, such as Spanish, Physical Education, Music and BrainGym. Parents also volunteer their time, making trips and special projects possible.
Math, science, reading, writing, history, geography, artwork and computer skills are woven into Middle Class work and projects in a natural and organic way. Specific handwork projects such as sewing, knitting and origami, also become a part of Middle Class work each year, often dovetailing with other subject matter and providing additional opportunities to strengthen hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness and logical thinking.
Day-to-day work on projects and classroom activities becomes the backdrop for development and growth in personal and group organizational skills, and each Middle Classer gradually increases his awareness and responsibility in these areas over the course of his years in the class. Each project provides new opportunities to develop, practice and improve skills in planning, recordkeeping and self-work, and participation in that process is an exciting part of the class.
In addition, the development of social skills is an integral part of everyday life for this age group and involves students’ friendships and working partnerships. Positive conflict resolution skills are learned in the context of real life situations. The children work daily with the help of adults to learn how to define and state conflict, express their feelings and needs in a given situation, and come to an agreement for resolution or action to be taken if an agreement is broken. Along with the concept of conflict resolution, the ideas of partnership in governance and making decisions by consensus are vital parts of our everyday classroom life. The children experience first-hand the importance of the individual in the group decision-making process and that creative, peaceful solutions benefit all.