Families Love the 6th Grade Bridge Year at NorthPointe Christian

Middle school was not my favorite time of life. After leaving the nice, safe bubble of elementary school, 6th grade was a shock. Those awkward “tween” hormones were in full swing. Some of my classmates were so mean to each other, it was overwhelming to navigate.

My experience was not unique – every kid making the jump from elementary to middle school faces major challenges.

NorthPointe Christian Schools has decided to do something about this. They are passionate about making sure their 6th grade students don’t just survive: they thrive.

“We want school to be a place where students feel safe and comfortable, knowing others have their backs and that we’re all rooting for each other’s successes,” explains 6th grade teacher Sue Gunderman.

The 6th Grade Bridge Year at Northpointe Christian Schools is designed to allow teachers and staff to come alongside students and support them as they transition out of elementary school and into middle school.

By addressing the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their lives, students are better positioned to grow academically.

6th Graders Enjoy a Self-Contained Classroom

In many elementary schools, kids are used to spending the majority of their day in one classroom with their teacher. Suddenly having six or more teachers a day and constantly moving from classroom to classroom can be overwhelming.

I love that NorthPointe Christian Schools acknowledges this and wants to make this transition easier for students.

One key aspect of the 6th grade Bridge Year is that students remain with one primary teacher for the majority of the day. They switch for only a couple of classes each day, which helps ease the transition into switching for every class later.

Sixth graders spend most of their day with the same group of students, developing deeper relationships with these kids.

Having that single primary teacher who knows them well and can help oversee their success is a major boon for students.

“The teachers and principal consistently see the hearts of our children as they were created,” says NorthPointe parent Amanda W.

Sixth Graders Crave Connection and Belonging

The teachers and staff at NorthPointe Christian Schools want 6th graders to know that they are seen, heard and supported.

Teachers are accessible during the day and after school, regularly communicating with parents, and willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed.

“The staff is really nice and you can tell they want what’s best for you,” says one middle school student.

Feeling like I knew my teachers on a personal level would have made middle school so much easier for me.

In addition to their classroom teacher and classmates, students also get to spend time in small groups. Each group has an adult mentor and students develop friendships within these groups, building a strong support system for themselves. The kids help each other to look more closely at the world and develop their moral compasses.

Investing time to create a cohesive student body lays the groundwork for an encouraging, positive culture.  

It took me months to find someone who I connected with in middle school. With these small groups, NorthPointe Christian 6th graders can make at least one connection with another student right from the beginning of the year.

What would your 6th grade year have looked like if your school had done this? I wish I’d had a small group like this so I could have met a new friend much earlier!

What Else Makes the 6th Grade Bridge Year Curriculum Unique?

It’s important for students to feel supported and give them a place where they belong. NorthPointe Christian Schools has several amazing ways that give students a sense of belonging.

Early in the school year, 6th graders go on an overnight class trip to Camp Ann.

“Our camp experience serves to build bonds between students and kick off the middle school experience with positive, supportive relationships,” says Sue Gunderman. “After our trip, it’s hard to distinguish between new and returning students.”

Sixth graders also get to participate in the Middle School Marketplace, learn about local hunger issues and raise money for Kids Food Basket, participate in a specially scripted play and more.

Parents Are Thankful for NorthPointe Christian Schools

“There aren’t enough words to express the blessing NorthPointe Christian is to our family and to our children,” praises Amanda. “They think outside of the box to reach our son. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

With so many amazing opportunities, you and your 6th grader will thank NorthPointe Christian Schools, too.

540 Russwood Ave NE, Grand Rapids, 49505

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