The ‘Big Kids’

Once a student at Downtown Montessori reaches 7th grade and begins their final two years in the Montessori Adolescent program they are officially a “big kid”, at least that is the word on the playground. I’ll often see the younger students looking at my students in awe, and some with a hint of intimidation. They are big, they are LOUD, they are fast, they talk a lot, and they are so cool. By the end of the year almost every student will know and be friends with at least one “big kid”.

During the year, our students do variety of in and out of school community service. This year they worked in most classrooms two times a week for an hour each day. Some days they are excited to get out of our environment and go and help in the classrooms, other days I get a grunt and a sigh. But from all of this, I have seen what the power of being a big kid can do. They are chased on the playground with excitement, they are learning how to communicate with students and adults on a different level and they have gained a sense of belonging in our school community.

In the last month, our students completed community service hours at St. Ann’s Center, Urban Ecology Center, COA, and Howard Avenue Montessori. The students took time cards and evaluation cards and were on their way. This was a great experience for the students and all our partners gave glowing reviews to these students. This past week most students completed internships. They got to choose where to go and set up their hours and times. We had kids going local at Hawthorne Coffee and Milwaukee Blacksmith as well as downtown law firms and bakeries. This out of school time is vital at this age and great experience.

Most parents worry about high school by the time their child is in 5th grade. Where will they go? What if they don’t get in? This year I am excited to report that ALL our “big kids” got into their choice high schools, some even got into a few. They worked hard on their essays, with a little coaching, kept up with their work and made sure they had good attendance. It’s not to say this isn’t an anxiety inducing process, but it is not impossible and they proved it this year. We work hard every day making sure that our 7th and 8th graders have the skills they will need to succeed in high school.

Next time you see a big kid say hi. They might be at the park, selling coffee, or in your child’s classroom. They are bigger but they are still kids.

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