Getting Sixth Grade Right at Del Mar Pines School

Del Mar Pines School
To set a course for their next learning adventure, sixth graders at Del Mar Pines School read the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.”
(Courtesy of Marci McCord)

Sixth grade is a time for students to seek independence as well as support. An eleven-year-old can surprise you with an insight one day and frustrate you with an unwise choice the next. Perhaps more than any other time in their lives, sixth-graders are growing so fast that their moods and motivations are often unknown to them.

But there are places where sixth graders are understood and encouraged. Del Mar Pines School has figured out not just the sixth-grade brain but the heart as well. This is good news not just for kids on the brink of adolescence but their parents as well.

Del Mar Pines is a K-6 private school located in Carmel Valley. With an enrollment of 150 students, there is one class per grade, and teachers get to know students quickly. This builds lasting relationships that help develop the whole child but also assure parents that their young learners are in nurturing hands. Students are known and are safe.

Del Mar Pines
As part of their global service project, sixth-grade students read “A Long Walk to Water” about the Lost Boys of Sudan, who were separated from their families by war.
(Courtesy of Marci McCord)

The school’s upper grade program, grades 4-6, is a point of pride for Del Mar Pines school. First of all, students have had the advantage of a rigorous academic grounding. Ability groupings ensure that students who are working at grade level or above continue to be challenged while students who need extra support receive the attention they need to succeed.

The pre-teen years are when the benefits of Del Mar Pines’ well-rounded education really take hold and it allows students to bloom. Dedicated art and music teachers, hands-on science, and physical education are integrated with classroom work. Upper-grade students are given extra space to discover things they love and explore new interests.

One parent notes that Del Mar Pines teachers “provided the emotional guidance to prepare our children for success in middle school and young adulthood.”

“The sixth-grade year is such an important time for social and emotional growth and Del Mar Pines School does it right,” says another parent, adding that teachers know each child’s potential and help them “have the confidence to serve as a role model and leader for younger students.”

To set a course for their next learning adventure, sixth graders read the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” a primer on creating a positive self-image, resisting peer pressure, achieving their goals, and tackling the challenges of our times.

They also learn to turn the focus away from themselves. Students also read “A Long Walk to Water” about the Lost Boys of Sudan, who were separated from their families by war. Then, the learning goes into action when the students fundraise for a well in South Sudan. And they do all the work, creating marketing materials and a website, polishing their elevator speeches about the need, and holding a bake sale. Last year, these remarkable students raised $7,500.

While these activities are intended to ignite sparks that may be developing in each student, they also have to be prepared for the challenges that only increase in middle and high school. Del Mar Pines’ child clinical psychologist talks to students about peer pressure and making good decisions – issues that are hitting very close to home for this age group.

Of course, parents are always part of the conversation, and appreciate the environment that they and school staff have created for teens-to-be.

As one parent puts it, “Sixth-grade at Del Mar Pines School is a time where children are allowed to learn, grow and mature in a safe and relaxed environment.”

Del Mar Pines School is a secular private elementary school in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego CA. Founded in 1978, Del Mar Pines school provides students with excellent academic programs that bring about well-rounded children of strong character.

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