The intermediate years transitioning from Montessori to the International Baccalaureate is a critical time where students go from an environment where the curiosity of the child drives the curriculum to an environment where the history and standards of civilization drives the curriculum. At Westwood, we have been attending to this transition since 1999 when we opened our middle school.
In the first two years of the Upper School (grades 7 and 8), students work toward fully abstracting the concepts they learned in Montessori so that those concepts can be considered intellectually without reference to the concrete. This is an especially important time in education, and we have a comprehensive educational support team to ensure student success. In these middle school years, students continue practical work and start applying those skills toward useful ends, such as running a business or building a robot. Students continue in their studies in both Mandarin and Spanish and also take a Latin enrichment class so that they can better understand the ways languages work and how one language can influence many others.
Upon entering high school, the students undergo the latter half of the intermediate years (grades 9 and 10). Upon entering high school, students are expected to take ownership of their schooling. Expectations for excellence is set by teachers and administration, but how those expectations are met is up to the student. Westwood maintains a strong educational support team, but the students have to start reflecting on their strengths and weaknesses and must start practicing advocating for themselves. One of the first choices we ask students to make is whether to take Spanish or Mandarin for their continuing language studies. They should make this and other choices through conversations with their parents and reflection on themselves.