The House System brings together students across grade levels at Woodland School in Portola Valley, CA

A long-time school tradition and the only one of its kind in California, Woodland School (Early Childhood through 8th-grade) uses the House System to foster camaraderie, collaboration, and leadership. The House System is a traditional feature of many schools in commonwealth countries but less common—and often only attributed to boarding schools—in the US. Upon joining Woodland, each student in Kindergarten through 8th-grade is inducted into one of four Houses—Oak, Pine, Maple, or Cypress. Students across all grade levels participate in a variety of academic and community-building activities with their Houses, including:

1. Intramural House Cup Games: The entire school will come together for some friendly competition among the four Houses throughout the year. Students display school spirit and House pride as they work together to achieve a common goal. With the mixed age ranges, older students are available to assist younger students.

2. Philanthropic Projects: Every year, the Houses take turns selecting philanthropic projects. The project is then introduced to the rest of the community so that everyone can participate. Students learn that, together, they can make a big impact.

3. Buddy Program: One of the many benefits of being an early childhood through 8th-grade school is that older students can assume leadership and mentor roles and our youngest learners have older students that serve as role models. Each student is connected with others in their House through the mixed-grade Buddy Program. Regular “Buddy Lunches” are scheduled throughout the year.

4. Academic activities: Throughout the year, older students are provided opportunities to lead activities for younger learners in their House, such as 8th-graders assisting Kindergartners with Math games or 7th-graders teaching 4th-graders the science of of waves.

For many of our students, the connections formed across the grades through the House Buddy Program is a favorite aspect of their Woodland experience.

Does your school do something similar?

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