Charleston Day School

Charleston Day School

Benefits of a K-8 School

There is significant research that supports the benefits of a K-8 school. Educational programs like Charleston Day are the best school models for children aged five through fourteen. In K-8 schools, children excel and become the best versions of themselves.

Typically, a K-8 school promotes a strong sense of belonging among students. From the early years of kindergarten through the transition to adolescence in middle school, students develop a sense of identity and community within the school. This creates a supportive environment where students feel known and valued by their peers and teachers.

Leadership Skills

Our K-8 grade structure offers many advantages for students. Students in grades 6, 7, and 8, are not in the middle, but at the top. Simply by virtue of that position, they behave differently. We expect more of our middle schoolers in terms of responsibility and maturity.

Although opportunities to develop leadership skills are available in any grade, it is the older grades that there is an emphasis on providing leadership opportunities. Older students are assigned a “Little”. A “Little” is a younger students to mentor over the coming years. Being a role model to a younger student builds friendship, community, and character.

By the time students are in the 8th grade, they are celebrated as leaders of the school and given responsibilities, opportunities, and special privileges to grow in that leadership. They act as junior docents at the Gibbes Museum of Art during a final spring integrated research unit. They may also participate in student government, lead a weekly assembly, and walk off campus for lunch on Fridays.

Benefits of K-8 and Charleston Day Bigs and Littles activity


A study in the Middle School Journal indicated that students in K-8 schools had higher academic achievement than those in traditional middle schools. In addition, students in K-8 schools surpassed those in traditional middle schools in math, science, and reading skills. The K-8 model maintains high academic standards while addressing each student’s individual learning styles and interests. As a result, a graduate is self-aware with the skills necessary for high school.


Middle school students select elective classes where they can develop skills beyond the traditional academic curriculum, such as musical theatre, knitting, The Clarion student news show, and documentary film study.


The Middle School Advisory Program provides opportunities for students to meet in small groups with advisors to set goals, problem solve, and discuss topics of the day.

Social-Emotional Wellness

The K-8 model provides education for the whole child and social and emotional development supports academic achievement. The K-8 environment is a safe place for students to explore, grow, and push themselves. Students are more likely to challenge themselves than they might in a larger environment in which they might feel unseen. Students in K-8 schools form and sustain long-term relationships with teachers and peers.

Charleston Day benefits of science teacher working with students

High School Preparation

Recent ACT data presented in The Forgotten Middle shows that students must have college and career readiness skills by the end of 8th grade. The article states that “the level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school.”

Charleston Day School graduates are prepared for whatever comes next. CDS students excel in grammar composition, mathematics, public speaking, and foreign languages. They also possess strong academic discipline and habits to sustain them through high school and beyond. Socially, they are comfortable in different situations and meet challenges head on.

The High School Application Process

We use the high school application process as a means to foster personal growth and accountability. Preparing for admission to high school adds a seriousness of intent to classes in 7th and 8th grade, not experienced in a K-12 setting. Students know their performance matters. There is a confidence that comes with assessing one’s academic achievements and making plans for the future.

Our teachers work individually with each family on the application process, beginning with a meeting over the summer. Students are guided through the steps of identifying what they want for the next phase of their education. They formulate an essay to present who they are and prepare for the interview — all valuable experiences. Learn more about High School Counseling.

Charleston Day benefits of small class sizes

Exceptional Graduates

Life After CDS

Ultimately, Charleston’s Day’s K-8 educational model provides students with self awareness, self advocacy, and academic success.

The Class of 2023 attended 14 different schools. Locally, the acceptance rate is remarkable at Ashley Hall, Academic Magnet, Porter-Gaud and other area schools. Charleston Day students excel at many of the finest boarding schools in the country. Learn more about Life After CDS.

Prepared for Success

Best of all, the reports we receive on the preparation of our students are all excellent. A student from the CDS class of 2019 who recently started college remarked, “Transitioning to high school was easy and starting college was even easier. I credit the work habits I received at CDS.” Our graduates feel confident and capable, and the schools recognize the depth and breadth of their educational foundation.

alumni walkway bricks

Character Education

Character Education shares equal billing with academic development.

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The entire student body gathers every Monday morning for assembly.

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