Human Development

Human development is a defining component of Crossroads' curriculum across all divisions.

Elementary School

List of 4 items.

  • Overview

    Special attention is given to the social, emotional, and spiritual development of each child at Crossroads. Through “councils” each child is encouraged to express his or her thoughts or feelings on a variety of developmentally appropriate topics. In a council, children sit with their teacher in a circle and learn to speak only when it is their turn, to speak briefly on the issue, and to listen attentively to others. Councils may be held to deal with a particular classroom issue about respectful treatment of one another, to discuss local or national news that children have brought to school, or to recognize a child’s birthday in a celebratory way called a Birthday Circle.

    Conflict resolution is taught and practiced through a common procedure at all grade levels. The goal is to enable each child to understand and articulate the point of view of another child, and for both children to be able to arrive at a solution to the conflict that is mutually agreeable.

    Another curriculum called “Steps to Respect” is designed to educate and encourage our children to resist bullying behavior. A Safe Touch Program enables children to protect themselves against sexual exploitation and abuse.

    Social understanding and respect includes knowledge and understanding of differences among people. At each grade level specific lessons are introduced that focus on respecting differences. The goal is to eliminate name-calling and prejudicial thinking and to enable all children to see themselves and their families in literature selections and in conversations. In fourth and fifth grade, children learn about what is happening or about to happen to their bodies in a unit on puberty taught by the classroom teachers. Parents are informed about the contents of the curriculum prior to the introduction of this unit.

    The development of the human spirit is fostered in weekly gatherings of the entire school community. Each week begins with Monday Morning Meeting where children and teachers greet one another, make announcements, and sing together. The week closes with “Gathering,” a time when children, teachers, and parents gather to celebrate events occurring both within the Elementary School community and the community at large. Lighting candles and closing with a song frame this special time.
  • Environmental and Outdoor Education

    Care and concern for the ecology of the Earth is an essential component of the Crossroads philosophy. Awareness of the need to take care of our planet begins in kindergarten, where “no waste” lunches are emphasized and gardening is a weekly process. In fourth and fifth grades, three and five day camping trips allow children to experience the natural environment with the guidance of trained naturalists.

    More specifically, in fourth grade, students head off to Lazy W Ranch for a 2-night, 3-day environmental education trip. This lodge-based program is designed for students with no prior outdoor experience, and the outdoor activities are appropriate for beginners in good physical condition. Program activities include Native American Survival (shelter building, sand painting, plant uses and hike), exploration of Spanish settlement (cooking, adobe building), Ranch Days activities (crafts), astronomy and the study of the chaparral’s plants and animals. Students also go on a two hour cruise aboard the Ocean Institute's R/V Sea Explorer to examine local coastal marine populations. Students are introduced to a variety of scientific equipment used in the collection and study of marine species. Evening programs include an astronomy talk and campfire.

    On the fifth grade trip, students head off to Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay for a 4-night, 5-day environmental education trip. This program provides students with many opportunities to explore and observe the natural world. Activities include hiking, snorkeling and ocean kayaking. Students study fish, sharks, rays, marine mammals, plankton and invertebrates during the marine life labs. Each day students have free time during which they may journal and play field games. The evening programs include astronomy, night walks, night snorkel and campfire.
  • Physical Education

    Through physical education, children learn how to become physically fit in an enjoyable, healthy environment where structure and guidance are provided for all participants. Team play, good sportsmanship, and a sense of individual success are the goals of the physical education curriculum. Participation, rather than competition, is stressed. The creation of class squads of boys and girls with different levels of athletic skills enables all children to participate in non-competitive games on a fair playing field. Strategies and teamwork are far more important than score keeping. Each year parents are invited to join their children in class during a Parent P.E. Day.

    In “Parent P.E. Day” a time when parents play right along with their child! Participation is a must!

    First through fourth grade children participate in P.E. classes every day. In fifth grade, children have P.E. classes four days per week. In all classes a warm-up and skill-building practice precede playing a game. Throughout the year, discussion of physical fitness includes nutrition, recreational fitness, and mind/body awareness.

    Third-Fifth Grade
    Skill development and team play are the focus for activities. Sports practiced include dodge ball, basketball, soccer, softball, hockey, and volleyball. In addition, students play non-competitive games designed to promote physical fitness and encourage team play. Older students have participated in a unit on international games such as cricket and rugby. A highlight of the fifth grade year is when children create their own "games" to teach their classmates based on all the skills and rules they have learned to date. Often these unique games become part of the regular physical education curriculum for all grades.

    Fifth grade students are invited to participate in after-school athletics where participants practice together and play games against other schools. There are three “seasons” for fifth grade sports.

    Fall: Flag football for boys; Basketball for girls
    Winter: Basketball for boys; Volleyball for girls; Co-ed Swimming
    Spring: Co-ed soccer; Co-ed volleyball
  • Service Learning

    Service to the community at large is an essential part of the school philosophy. It is embedded in the Elementary School program and is referred to as service learning rather than community service. Service learning is considered an exciting opportunity to learn important skills in addition to taking community action in a positive way.

    Each classroom has a curriculum component that embodies service. For example, second grade students study famous Americans and family members who have made significant contributions to their communities. During the year, the second grade students make frequent visits to a senior citizen home nearby where they come to know their active senior friends well. Near the end of the year, children invite their senior friends to school for a celebratory luncheon. In small groups, fifth grade children go to the ACCESS Center of the Ocean Park Community Center on alternate Fridays to prepare and serve food and distribute clothing to homeless citizens.

    There are school wide service projects that involve all children who choose to participate. Various collections that benefit different social service agencies such as One Voice, St. Anne School, The Westside Food Bank , or the ACCESS Center of the Ocean Park Community Center are planned throughout the year. In addition, in response to global and/or national emergencies, Student Council will organize a fund-raising program in which all children may participate.

Middle School

List of 4 items.

  • Community Service

    The mission of the Crossroads Middle School Community Service Program is to promote active participation, community awareness, and empathy for the needs of our local and global communities through service learning. Service Learning is a teaching and learning strategy, which integrates community service with the classroom curriculum. We believe that through service learning not only will our students learn the practical use of their studies, but they will also develop organizational and leadership skills while supporting the core values of Crossroads. Students are encouraged to seek a meaningful service project. Our aim is to bring focus to the act of service rather than accumulating hours. We believe service is a lifetime commitment and by benefiting others we in turn develop and benefit ourselves. While students are free to explore service projects individually, our program will provide opportunities to fulfill service requirements during each trimester. In conjunction with the athletic department, an additional option will be available for students to participate in a service project, as a team. Our goal is to foster teamwork and allow students to explore, acquire new skills, develop interests and accumulate knowledge. Students are required to write and upload a Service Project Reflection essay and image (picture, of or concerning selected service project) onto our Service Portfolio to be shared with the entire community. In general, the essay should detail the service project chosen, the students’ experience, and it should answer all relevant questions outlined within the Reflections Essay Guidelines, available online.
  • Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE)

    Students in the Middle School have a special week planned each year where regular classes are suspended in favor of a week of camping and outdoor activities. These adventures are designed to focus on three core areas: human development, environmental science, and technical outdoor skills. While students develop character and confidence through fun and challenging activities, they also connect with science curriculum through lessons that unite what is taught in the classroom with the outdoor environment.

    During the school year, eOe may also offer Middle School students community service opportunities or other afterschool outdoor activities.

    EOE - 6th Grade
    In the spring, the sixth grade goes to Joshua Tree National Park for an in-depth study of the desert biome.  While there, lessons learned during the year in science will be reinforced and furthered by field activities.  Students will engage in hiking, rock-climbing, and other activities in one of our nation’s outdoor treasures.

    EOE - 7th Grade
    Seventh grade takes off in the fall to experience the marine environment available at Morro Bay.  There, students observe the impact of human activity on the estuary environment as well as studying the ecosystem directly while kayaking, tide pooling, and hiking.

    EOE - 8th Grade
    Springtime’s eighth grade trip to the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains serves as a culminating event to Middle School EOE, as well as a mechanism to connect the outdoors with the science classes.  Students will hone their outdoor skills with a five-day mountain camping experience.  During this week students can choose between a backpacking trip, an introduction to Whitewater Kayaking, or a combination mountain experience.  
  • Life Skills

    The Life Skills program offers a unique, process-oriented class conducted in the Council format, a means of communication and self-governance, with the underlying intention of raising students’ self esteem, self-awareness, and appreciation of others. In Life Skills, students are given an opportunity to reflect on their lives and examine the quality of their relationships to themselves, others, and the community. The process fosters a sense of connectedness and provides an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence in order to cope effectively with life’s challenges. As one Crossroads Middle School student said, “Life Skills is a class where we open up to others in order to trust people in the grade and to find solutions about tough predicaments.” These classes are required at all grade levels and take place once a week for one hour.

    In addition to Council, students participate in open dialogue, group building games, art projects and service related projects. Life Skills provides a general curricular focus at each grade level that addresses themes we feel are important to address with adolescents.

    6th Grade Life Skills
    Sixth Grade Life Skills places an emphasis on aiding students in their transition to a new campus and meeting new friends. The students explore family traditions and behaviors, how they spend their time, how they treat each other and themselves, likes and dislikes, and what they represent. There is a formal puberty and sex education unit at the end of the year. The sixth graders also participate in a four-week community service project.

    7th Grade Life Skills
    Seventh Grade Life Skills centers on the formation of identity and the positioning amongst peers, with themes of friendships, cliques, and codes of behavior. The class aims to offer the support needed to begin to solidify students’ values and promote their sense of belonging. There is also a formal drug education unit.

    8th Grade Life Skills
    Eighth Grade Life Skills focuses on value clarification, based on students’ cumulative reflections of personal, familial, social and global influences. Through this exploration, the students develop a deeper understanding of and tolerance for others. There is a Ropes Course day in the fall, devoted to building individual confidence and trust among class members. Midyear, the students experience a Single Gender unit where they explore relational values.
  • Physical Education

    Pre-adolescence is a time of rapid development and self-discovery; physical, mental, social, and emotional. Our program is designed to advance students in all of these areas through various games, activities, and discussions. Double period blocks allow ample time for students to participate in a wide variety of games and activities.

Upper School

List of 4 items.

  • Community Service

    “I do not know what your destiny will be, but I do know…the only ones among us who will truly be happy are those who have sought for and found a way to serve.” Albert Schweitzer

    The Community Service Program is designed to instill in students a lifelong pattern of giving, by helping them to develop a connection with the larger society.  At this age, community service is a door to the world, and we encourage and support students to do their community service in areas that reflect their passions--and in ways that leave them changed as much as those they serve.

    Program requirements overview:
    9th grade  Community Awareness class; 10 Community Awareness Hours completed outside of class during that semester
    9th OR 10th grade One 20-hour project, done either year; must be completed by the end of 10th grade
    11th grade  Service Leadership class; 15-hour project completed outside of class during that semester
    12th grade Community Outreach Council combined with Senior Mysteries classes 
    Please feel free to contact the Community Service Office if you have any questions.

    Community Awareness
    Community Awareness,1/4 year credit, required for one semester at the 9th grade level.

    In this one-hour, semester-long class, the primary goal is to introduce students to service participation at the high school level.  After reviewing the Upper School graduation requirement, students learn about community service needs and opportunities through a variety of speakers and other experiences.  Students are exposed to local service venues such as:  OPCC, Westside Food Bank, Head Start, St. Anne School, convalescent homes, etc.  The class may visit some of the above organizations during class time so students can have a more hands-on experience.  The intention is that students discover a range of possibilities and ultimately find personally meaningful opportunities through service.  During this semester (both inside and outside of class time) students complete the 10-hour Community Awareness requirement.  This class is Pass, Fail, or Honors.  Honors is given at the discretion of the teacher, taking into account the completion of an additional 5 Awareness hours, timeliness, and the quality of class participation and assignments.

    Senior Mysteries/Community Outreach
    Senior Mysteries/Community Outreach, one year requirement, 1/2 year credit.

    At the senior level, this course integrates the Mysteries and Community Service Human Development requirement.  The class meets for two hours per week as a group for the entire year.  This course aims to prepare students for their passage from adolescence to young adulthood, from high school to college, from living at home to leaving home.  Separation and individualization, personal responsibility, and concerns of emerging adulthood are central topics of this age level.  The class includes preparation for an optional five-day retreat and Rite of Passage at the Ojai Foundation which provides an opportunity to look more deeply at issues raised by students during the year.

    Community Outreach is integrated into the issues of the class in order to help foster a connection between personal and global concerns.  During class time, students participate in a group Community Outreach Project that allows Crossroads students to participate in Council with other Los Angeles based schools, our own elementary school, and other groups in our community. 

    The Community Outreach component builds on students’ Council experiences from previous years.

    Service Leadership
    Service Leadership,1/4 year credit, required for one semester at the 11th grade level.

    A semester long class intended to develop students’ service leadership awareness and skills.  This course supports students in bringing their service experience to the next level--from participation to leadership.  Students in this class fulfill a 15-hour project while acquiring and demonstrating service leadership skills.  The 15-hours will consist of both research and project hours. Students develop a deeper understanding of what service leadership means and identify the service leadership skills they want to strengthen.  Examples of these skills might be public speaking, delegation, decision making, organization, etc.  Over the course of the semester, students explore and hone these skills in preparation for and implementation of their project. Students also learn more about what goes into creating and maintaining a service-based non-profit organization through a variety of speakers and curriculum.  This class is Pass, Fail, or Honors.  Honors is given at the discretion of the teacher, taking into account the completion of an additional 5 project hours, timeliness, and the quality of class participation and assignments.

  • Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE)

    We face a world changing at an incredible pace. Today's students make decisions about the fate of our earth, their fellow students and themselves. To make these decisions intelligently and responsibly, we need to understand the earth and its ecosystems, humans' impact on the planet, and our impact on each other.

    eOe programs focus on:

    Environmental Education
    Stewardship of our natural resources is an essential component of the human experience. Responsible stewardship requires an understanding of the natural world, and eOe programs focus on natural history, earth sciences, and the humanities.

    Outside of the classroom and away from campus, students have the opportunity to create new friendships and deepen their connection with their classmates, trip leaders, teachers, and the Crossroads community.

    Personal Responsibility
    In the outdoors, the results of our actions are often concrete and immediate. During eOe programs, students have the opportunity to simplify their lives for a few days and observe how their actions affect their environment, their group, and ultimately themselves.

    Outdoor Skills
    As students’ progress through the eOe program, they have the opportunity to develop outdoor skills. We begin with the basics: how to stay happy, healthy, and organized in an outdoor environment. With this foundation in place, students learn more technical outdoor skills such as rafting, kayaking, backpacking, and rock climbing. Engaging in technical outdoor skills allows students to challenge themselves, accomplish new goals, and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world.

    Leadership and Teamwork
    eOe programs allow students to develop their leadership and collaborative skills through engaging in cooperative interaction, learning to trust their peers, and accepting responsibility for their actions. We seek to foster students’ sense of accomplishment while exploring the dynamics of effective leadership and learning to work effectively as a team.

    Academic Credit:
    Students receive 0.25 units of course credit for all overnight eOe programs.
    Students receive Honors academic credit through our Field Study programs.
    Students receive 25 project hours through our Environmental Service Programs.

    Fees and Registration:
    Fees for all overnight eOe programs are included in tuition.
    Select recreational day programs are billed additionally.

    Crossroads is proud to be a member school in the High Mountain Institute. HMI offers semester-long programs for juniors that explore the natural world through a rigorous academic program and series of wilderness trips throughout the Colorado Plateau. Students study the literature of the natural world, natural sciences (biology, ecology, geology, meteorology) ethics, U.S. history, math, and Spanish or French at HMI’s campus in Leadville, Colorado and in the field on wilderness trips. Fall and spring semesters are available. Interested sophomores and parents should contact their Academic Dean for additional information.
  • Life Skills

    The primary aim of the Life Skills program is to build self-esteem and to provide students the information, communication, and decision-making skills required to behave with responsibility and care for themselves and others. This program is designed to alleviate the low self-esteem, social isolation, and failure to manage stress that are responsible for behaviors such as substance abuse, irresponsible sexual behavior, and poor school performance.

    Methods include:
    "Council," a non-denominational ceremony which fosters discipline, deep listening, focused speaking, respect for differences, and awareness of unexpected similarities. Sitting on the floor in a circle, sometimes by candlelight, students and teachers explore feelings, beliefs, values, and concerns. Frequently an object is passed - a special stone or other item used as a "talking piece" - which gives each person in turn the right to speak, or be silent, without interruption or response. Subject matter for Council arises out of issues of current concern to adolescents.written and experiential exercises to foster group-building and/or self-definitioninformation sessions offered by the teacher, films, or guest speakers, which foster informed decision-makingrelaxation, focusing, and guided imagery to alleviate stress, develop imagination and intuition, and sharpen the concentration required to excel in academics, artistic expression, and athletics
  • Physical Education

    The Physical Education program seeks to help students become aware of, integrate, and coordinate their bodies, minds, and hearts. Hence the program eschews extreme competitiveness, placing greater emphasis upon personal and cooperative development. The intention of this program is for students to retain an interest in movement and movement forms and will continue to exercise and maintain high levels of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Middle and Upper School: 21st Street Campus | 1714 21st St., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 829-7391
Elementary School: Norton Campus | 1715 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: (310) 828-1196
Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences provides a unique K-12 program built on a progressive, developmental model of education.