Based on child development theories, by age 14 children have developed basic human skills and have stepped over the threshold to the beginning phases of adulthood. Not only is there a significant evolution in the physical development of a child entering adolescence, but intellectually children begin to develop deeper abstract thinking, socially they begin to rely more heavily on a stable peer group for support, and emotionally, their temperament begins to stabilize. In the first 14 years of life students need the stability of a nurturing environment in which they can develop and grow, take risks, allow themselves to be vulnerable, and accept challenges, within a space that offers them support they need to confidently engage in age-appropriate activities while feeling nurtured and loved.
In a K-8 educational setting, children can remain “young” and preserve the sacredness of childhood for the entire period of childhood. Students grow from being the youngest in the school to taking on leadership roles as the oldest, giving them an opportunity to serve as role models and thrive with a vibrant sense of community. The result is greater confidence, self-esteem and a sense of belonging, which translates into stronger academic performance at a developmentally appropriate pace. The American Educational Research Journal and numerous other research studies validate the benefits of a K-8 education and the distinct advantages for students academically, socially and emotionally. Furthermore, the participation in the Senior Mastery Program at CEA, which includes daily time dedicated to pursuing an area of passion, allows all students to find a sense of community alongside a peer group that shares their common interests in an environment of support. By the time CEA students reach the 8th grade, they have earned the right to have a voice in what high school they attend based on how they have evolved and developed and feel confident that they will approach the next stage with the competency to succeed.