Building Habits for a Lifetime

Building Habits for a Lifetime
By Sarah Nickoloff, Director of Admissions

As the admissions director of Oak Hill School, I have the privilege of sharing this wonderful school with prospective parents like you every day. Oak Hill is somewhat unique in the Nashville community in that it teaches children from PreK to 6th grade, roughly ages four to 12. This is a precious time in a child’s development and how we approach a child’s education is what sets us apart and makes a family’s commitment to Oak Hill School well worth it. 

According to the Southern Association of Independent Schools, elementary school is “the most important time to invest in a child’s educational journey so they come to see learning as a joyful process where their curiosity and interests are welcomed.” A research study conducted by Gallup shows that “students’ emotional well-being and providing strong academic opportunities result in better long-term outcomes.” Oak Hill is a place where parents can feel confident that these “habits of the heart” and “habits of the mind” will be addressed, nurtured, and strengthened throughout their time here. 

Habits of the Heart

The habits of the heart help children to regulate their emotions, build and understand empathy, and to develop strong interpersonal skills which they carry with them throughout life. According to SAIS, these healthy habits take shape in the earliest years, during elementary school. 

Oak Hill School makes each student’s sense of well-being and habits of the heart a priority through several intentional programs and methods. Monthly virtues are shared through 6th grade virtue speeches, flag raising activities, morning meeting lessons and self-science classes. Grade level service themes and work with non-profits teach children empathy and show how we can partner with other organizations to serve the greater Nashville community. Teachers also continue to develop a mirror and window curriculum that nurtures students’ understanding of themselves while providing windows into the perspectives and viewpoints of others.

Habits of the Mind

The habits of the mind refer to the way children think, create new ideas, and solve problems which directly affects how they learn and grow. According to SAIS, “independent school educators have the freedom and flexibility to determine, ‘What do my students need to know to best prepare them…how I am going to deliver the curriculum to the specific set of students I have this year?’” 

The opportunity to differentiate instruction based on each student’s needs is an important opportunity that Oak Hill School provides for elementary school students when they are learning to establish strong work habits and foster a love of learning and discovery. As we strive to achieve best practice, we provide children with academic skills and habits that empower them to succeed at their next schools and beyond:

  • Participating in the Design Thinking Process in the Maker Space
  • Next Generation Science Standards allowing for discovery and experiential learning
  • Singapore Math builds confidence and conceptual understanding
  • Reading and Writing Workshop allows for individualized instruction
  • Advisory meetings in the upper grades where students are encouraged to take an active, independent role in their own learning and success
  • Differentiated instruction by highly trained faculty members
  • Learning Services allows teachers to meet the needs of a wide-range of learners
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