We recognize that middle school students are beginning to ask questions—big questions—about the world in which they live and their part in it.
Middle school students also want to know that they are not alone. So, the middle school years at Dayspring Christian Academy are focused on student engagement. We want students to know that their education is their property— a part of them that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. Since we view and teach education as an avenue to know God Himself, a student’s educational journey exists to find his or her place of effectiveness in God’s Kingdom. This makes education so exciting!
In middle school, students begin to have a variety of subjects and teachers, all the while needing the stability and structure that provide a foundation to everyday learning experiences. To accommodate this transition, 6th-grade teachers often use similar classroom routines and procedures so that middle school students are not overwhelmed with many, many new practices to learn.
Since most middle school students seek social interaction with their peers, Dayspring’s teachers design collaborative projects and other hybrid learning activities that channel students’ energy, capture their attention, and enable subject mastery.
For instance, math teachers have students read, discuss, then present findings of a non-fiction article relating to a biblical view of math. Another collaborative math project has students working together to create math equations that result in the date–one for every school day of every school month of the year! Another has students “open” a checking account then keep accurate records for purchases, all the while practicing accurate accounting through real-life addition and subtraction.
This is, of course, in addition to the traditional math lessons expected in middle school. Because Dayspring offers a handcrafted education, students’ are placed in math courses according to tested aptitudes.
What does a middle school Principle Approach history class look like? At Dayspring, in a recent 8th-grade history class, for example, two students suggested that the class debate the role of the Christian, the church, and government! How do they act separately? How should these roles act in an integrated fashion with a society that is not all Christian? Students crafted questions to consider these complex issues that are applicable to the world in which they live. They discussed responsibilities of the government, but also of the governed. One of those responsibilities that went into immediate action is prayer. The class prays for our congressmen, the president, and for laws that are just and uphold righteousness.
In Literature, students delve into reading and are challenged with assignments that include searches in God’s word, looking for beneficial character traits in literary characters that can be emulated, and writing their own devotional lines. Hands-on activities as opposed to desk work are incorporated to allow for collaborative skills to grow, social relationships to be forged, and challenge students to take a look at the subject matter from a different angle. All of these varying learning opportunities aid in the mastery of material being covered.
Middle school is a key time in a child’s spiritual formation. To that end, during weekly chapel time, students gather in small groups by grade and gender, and each group has a mentor who engages with students in discussion and prayer about the topic at hand. This provides opportunities for spiritual community as well as simple friendship and understanding, where walls begin to tumble down. Additionally, an annual retreat brings students together for a two-day experience that includes outside speakers, times of deep prayer—and fun with friends on adventure courses and more!
Further, with God at the center of every subject at Dayspring, a biblical foundation is forged and spiritual formation takes shape as a biblical worldview is cultivated and faith is inspired throughout the academic experience.
Scripture says, “Come and see the works of the Lord,” (Ps. 66.5). In grades 6-8, teachers prepare students to experience in-depth learning in exciting and rich field studies. Sixth-grade students camp and investigate Gettysburg and share biographical reports each has written about a Very Important Person (VIP) in the battle; 7th grade travels to the Museum of Natural History in Philadelphia for their Ancient History course and the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter for science; 8th grade heads to the Harrisburg Capitol and State museum as well as Lancaster’s Guilty Pleas Court for their Pennsylvania History and Civics class.
The middle school experience at Dayspring Christian Academy is an exciting one with excellent academics and the opportunity to create friendships that will last a lifetime.