Middle School

Middle School at The Jefferson School

Developmentally, the middle school years are one of the most exhilarating and challenging periods of growth in a child's life. It’s a time when children explore new things, new friendships and discover the seeds of lifelong passions. But with the unpredictability of hormonal development, emerging self- consciousness and peer pressure, the middle school years can also be marked by bullying, exclusion and isolation.

At The Jefferson School, we are experts at helping students navigate their way through this bridge between childhood and independence with self-confidence. Middle School students are full of energy, eager to learn and test boundaries. And we love giving them a safe place to try new things, fall down and get up again. Because classes are small, with teacher:student ratios of approximately 1:10, we have the opportunity to really get to know our students and find creative ways to harness their energy and wonder. We give them opportunities for leadership and independence, and it is exciting to see how they respond.

The middle school program for fifth through eighth grade builds on the curriculum used in the lower school classes. Older students spend their days learning life skills as well as academic subjects. Our student population is very diverse and learning about the various cultures of their classmates plays an important part in their education. In addition, they begin developing a value system that will help them live ethical, responsible lives in their communities and in the world at large.

Our challenging curriculum is enhanced by the individual relationships that develop between children who have learned to work together in an encouraging, collaborative atmosphere. At the heart of our curriculum is “project-based learning,” a dynamic educational approach that allows students to explore real-world problems in small groups. This curriculum is filled with active and engaged learning that inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they're studying while teaching them to work with others in ways that foster respect for each individual’s talents. Research indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. 


  • A developmental snapshot of middle schoolers outlined in the following areas: Intellectual Development, Physical Development, Psychological Development, Social Development and Moral and Ethical Development published by the California Department of Education.

One of a series of videos on the middle school brain by Dr. Abigail Baird of Vassar College