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The Advantages of a K-8th Grade Education!

Be curious, not cool
~ Ken Burns

The 2022-2023 year marks Harbor Day’s 70th school year. As far as we can tell, Harbor Day’s founders intentionally created the school to educate kindergarteners through eighth graders on one campus. Across the country, there are numerous K-8 and PK-8 schools. For HDS, the K-8 model offers many advantages.

Harbor Day’s kindergarteners love seeing their friends and siblings in higher grades on campus. These older students provide good role models to the kindergarteners, who truly look up to the bigger kids when they see them. The kindergarteners and other students in primary grades grow their academic skills in their classrooms and imagine what it is like to be older, reading bigger books, going to special classes without a teacher’s guidance, competing in sports against another school, and eventually graduating from Harbor Day School. They constantly watch the middle school students as they go to lunch and sit at assembly, and they display great excitement when they see their HDS family member or an older sibling or carpool buddy on campus.

The middle school students enjoy the sweet adulation of their younger schoolmates. It’s hard to maintain a bad mood when an adorable first grader calls your name and wildly waves as you walk by them. The middle school student also grows in confidence as their skills and stature shine in relation to the younger students that they see throughout the day. This confidence allows them to approach their teachers and try out for parts on stage or roles in Student Council. 

While we at HDS see the above scenarios daily, researchers have studied various school configurations and proven the benefit of the K-8 model for learning in the middle grades. The American Educational Research Journal reported in September 2016 that middle school students in K-8 schools experience:
  • Higher self-esteem and a higher sense of safety than students in environments with older students
  • More core instructional time
  • Less disruption in learning caused by disruptive transitions
  • Greater comfort with trying new things, such as taking on leadership roles, trying out for athletic teams, and auditioning for performances
Current Issues in Education shared results of a study titled “Math and Reading Differences between 6-8 and K-8 Grade Span Configurations: A Multi-year Statewide Analysis” and concluded that “regardless of student grade level or school year examined, students who were enrolled in K-8 schools had higher average passing rates on the TAKS [Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills] Reading and Math assessments than did students enrolled in middle schools.” Another study, Stuck in the Middle: Impact of Grade Configuration in Public Schools summarized  “we find that moving students from elementary to middle school in 6th or 7th grade causes significant drops in academic achievement." These effects are large (about 0.15 standard deviations), present for both math and English, and persist through grade 8.
Harbor Day School provides a friendly and joyful learning environment for both its students and its faculty. This K-8 school enjoys its status as a great place to go step by step to the top.

Gradatim ad Summum,
Angi Evans

Harbor Day School

3443 Pacific View Drive
Corona del Mar, CA 92625 Phone<title><script type="mce-text/javascript"> (function(a,e,c,f,g,h,b,d){var k={ak:"984895077",cl:"EfBCCP-Fv3UQ5ZzR1QM"};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[g]||(a[g]=k.ak);b=e.createElement(h);b.async=1;b.src="//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js";d=e.getElementsByTagName(h)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a[f]=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,k,d,null,new Date,e)};a[f]()})(window,document,"_googWcmImpl","_googWcmGet","_googWcmAk","script"); </script><head><body>1-949-640-1410<html></html></body></head><br><br><br>
Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.