Dear Cottonwood Families,

It’s that time of the year – open enrollment season, and the anticipation is building as we approach the window for submitting your Intent to Return and to enroll incoming siblings! Whether you’re a recent addition to our school community or have been with us for years, we eagerly await the confirmation that you will continue your journey with The Cottonwood School and look forward to welcoming additional students from your family.

Please take note of the essential steps outlined in the Wednesday Weekly. Additionally, keep an eye on your inbox for a letter from your HST, guiding you through this process. Now, as we step into the final three months of the school year, my thoughts are filled with both reflection on the incredible journey our students have undertaken this school year and the exciting transitions that lie ahead. Read on to learn about these transitions and how to support your own children.

Lower Grades to Upper Elementary: Blossoming Independence

For younger learners, the transition from lower grades to upper elementary is a time of burgeoning independence. As they grasp fundamental concepts, children often develop a sense of autonomy and a desire to explore subjects more independently. You can foster this independence by encouraging self-directed projects, incorporating hands-on activities, and nurturing their growing curiosity.

Upper Elementary to Junior High: Cultivating Self-Directed Learning

Moving from upper elementary to junior high marks a crucial period of development where children begin to take ownership of their education. Guide your children in setting academic goals, exploring varied subjects of interest, and gradually fostering a sense of responsibility for their own learning journey.

Junior High to High School: Transitioning to Independence

The transition from junior high to high school is a pivotal moment where students lay the foundation for their academic future. This shift often involves a noticeable increase in academic expectations, self-discipline, and decision-making. You can support your teenagers during this period by gradually allowing more autonomy in their learning process, encouraging goal-setting, and fostering a sense of responsibility for their academic choices.

Fun Facts About Developmental Transitions

  • Cognitive Growth Spurts: Research indicates that children experience cognitive growth spurts during transitional periods. This is an excellent time to introduce more challenging concepts and activities that align with their expanding cognitive abilities.
  • Social Development Milestones: Transitions between grades often coincide with significant social development milestones. Encouraging group activities, collaborative projects, and discussions with peers can support their social growth.
  • Teenage Brain Development: The brain undergoes significant changes during the teen years, particularly in the prefrontal cortex responsible for decision-making and complex reasoning. This is a period of heightened cognitive development.
  • Identity Exploration: High school is a time for identity exploration. Encourage your teen to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, or volunteer work to help them discover their interests and passions.


School-Age Cognitive Development

School-Age Physical Development

Children’s Developmental and Academic Milestones

Developmental Milestones for Elementary School-Age Children

As we celebrate the unique milestones of each child, let’s cherish the joy of learning and the growth that comes with every transition. I look forward to embarking on this exciting journey of discovery and development together.


Kara Parkins, Parent Support Advisor