Nurturing Leadership & Research Skills in Middle School

At Capitol Hill Day School, developing self-reflection and critical thinking skills is part of the curriculum for all students, from prekindergarten through 8th grade. In every classroom and on 300+ field trips each year, students are encouraged to ask questions, collect and analyze data, and present their findings.

Beginning in 6th grade, Capitol Hill Day School Upper Grade students lead their parents and teachers through an in-depth discussion of their progress. Students prepare by working with teacher advisors and reflecting on three areas: Academics, Social-Emotional Learning, and Student Success Skills. Each year, students focus on a different theme: Progress (6th grade), Effort (7th grade), and Independence (8th grade).

These twice yearly student led conferences help students become more self-reflective and independent. When adolescents are active participants in conversations about their learning, they gain important insights into the nature of learning, as well as the motivation to set goals and work towards them. Furthermore, the practice of presenting a balanced and detailed self-assessment prepares students for the transition to high school.

Capitol Hill Day School Upper Grade students also complete a YEP (Year End Project), in which they select and study a topic of interest in-depth. During the four month YEP process, students learn and implement a formal research process, interview an expert in the field, write a research paper, create a visual aid that includes pictures, graphs, and data, give a speech to the School community about their project, and complete a civic engagement project related to their research.

Learn more about Capitol Hill Day School at, or join one of our small group tours this spring!

Does your school do something similar?

Add a comment