Our Grade Levels

Think beyond grade levels at Kino School!

Instead of traditional grade levels, we group our students into four main categories: Primary (K-2), Mid-Level (3-5), Junior High (6-8), and High School (9-12). Each category corresponds to a specific age range, and we base our curriculum on each student’s interests and developmental needs. Our educational practices are student-centered, small-group instruction.

​Each grade level has goals for their accomplishments and thresholds they’ll be expected to reach. These guidelines are based on how children develop academically and socially.

Primary and Middle-Level

Goals & Expectations

Our primary and middle-level students should display creativity in several areas, including art, music, storytelling, math, problem-solving, and construction. They should be respectful to people of all ages and accept different abilities and opinions.

Primary and middle-level students should participate in homeroom, use appropriate language, and be able to communicate their ideas and feelings. They should be involved in their academics and think critically. Primary and middle-level students should be able to state their goals and work towards them. They make effective use of their school time and can evaluate their learning.

At the primary and middle levels, Kino students begin to develop more than academic skills. They start to learn how to balance freedom and responsibility to be part of a community in which they are valued and dependable. Our goal is to help children become passionate, lifelong learners who believe in themselves and make a difference in the world.


At Kino, we create an environment where children can explore their academic interests. We offer more standard class choices like Language Arts, Social Studies, Spanish, Math, and Science, as well as classes like Computers, Ceramics, Cooking, Dance, Gardening, and unique individual projects.

Our class structure allows ample time for students to explore their curiosity. Through mixed-age homerooms and playtime, Kino children learn to see each other as people, work together, and collaborate. It’s never too early for children to learn accountability and teamwork. Having broad age ranges in their homerooms helps students understand where they fit in the wider community. As they develop bonds in homeroom, they also build empathy and understanding.

Kino students understand that their teachers are their allies, not authority figures who will punish them if they don’t fit into a box. We aim to create a social structure based on cooperation, participation, and responsibility.

Junior High

Goals & Expectations

We have the same baseline expectations of our Junior High students as our Primary & Mid-Level Students, with the additional expectation that they’ve grown and developed further.
We expect our Junior High students to be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. They should be able to set and follow through with goals and manage their school time effectively while they remain academically engaged.
Our students should be able to help others without being asked and have appropriate hygiene and dress. They should be able to help others in homeroom and academic settings.


Junior High students are required to take a language arts and math course, along with at least three electives or a project they’re interested in. In Junior High, our students are encouraged to explore their interests and develop their skills in various areas while focusing on learning how to communicate effectively in their writing and reading. Their curriculum includes 15 hours of community service and a Looking Back/Looking Forward essay.

Kino offers various classes, including Language Arts, Humanities, Social Studies, Math, Science, Shop, Music, Spanish, Gardening, independent and creative play, caring for animals, and unique individual projects where our students can dig deep into their passion. Within those subjects, we offer a wide range of choices. For example, a Kino student could take a literature class focusing on a genre or author or a writing class in creative writing, essay writing, or journalism to earn an English credit. ​

However, a Kino student will often have many choices within those requirements. To earn an English credit, for example, a student may take a literature class, which might focus on a particular genre or author, or a writing class, which may be creative writing, essay writing, or journalism.

As students at Kino grow, they develop more than academic skills. They learn how to balance freedom and responsibility by learning that while they’re responsible for themselves, they’re part of a community where they are valued, and others depend on them. ​

Our learning environment is designed to give junior high students time to do their research, practice piano or guitar, get further involved in their artwork, read books or write reactions to things they have been working on in independent projects or classes, work in the garden or shop, study their Spanish, struggle with math and get help from teachers.

Kino students create bonds in homeroom and naturally develop empathy and understanding for each other. They feel a more profound sense of belonging and connection, encouraging them to participate in the community.​

​Students learn that actions and attitudes can positively or negatively affect the people in their homeroom. When someone takes something from another person’s cubby, we know how this can affect the atmosphere of trust in the whole group. When we do lunch duty together, we actively maintain our environment. When an older student takes a moment to help a younger student with an activity or through some stressful situation, we learn how good it feels to help each other.

High School 

Goals & Expectations

At each grade level, we have goals and expectations for our students. Naturally, we have higher expectations of our older students. We expect them to have accomplished the goals of the Mid-Level and Junior High levels, plus the expectations for graduation.

We expect our High School students to take a leadership role in homeroom and throughout the school. They are integral to the structure of homerooms.

They should be able to plan and complete projects and state what they learned. As they move through school and approach the end of their time at Kino, our students should be able to set and work towards goals for their future beyond high school.

Kino High School students are accountable for themselves and aware of their place in our community. They have a keen sense of self and compassion for others and are productive, positive, and a model of cooperation in homeroom.


Kino’s unique learning environment greatly emphasizes social and personal growth, academic skills, and interests. We consider these factors as each student progresses through their high school career.
As with other grade levels, high school students are encouraged to work towards goals that are meaningful to them. The focus is on tailoring their curriculum to what they plan to do after graduation. If a student plans to go to college, they’ll take classes or work on projects that follow the guidelines of what most colleges require.
Kino high schoolers Kino high schoolers need to complete 22 credits, a senior project, 30 hours of community service each year, and a looking back/looking ahead essay. They can earn credits based on projects, working one-on-one with a teacher, or in a class. For example, to earn a History credit, students may join a class, review documentaries, read historical fiction, or pursue their own ideas.
A project is an extended, in-depth investigation of a topic that interests each student. It could be writing a novel or creating and coding a video game. Some students build things like greenhouses or work with animals. Some projects involve organizing people or doing an internship in the community.
​Some projects are easily defined, with straightforward procedures and goals, while some are open-ended, with procedures and goals that change as the student goes. ​
Projects that achieve high school credit involve reading, writing, and doing. They present senior projects to the school community at the end of the year.
Kino high schoolers must submit written evaluations for any class or project they earn credit for. These evaluations are one-page summaries indicating the scope of the work and its significance to the student and become part of their transcripts.
When applying to colleges, they send their evaluations instead of grades to demonstrate what they learned. This is an opportunity to demonstrate their writing abilities to the colleges of their choice and to make their application stand out from other standard transcripts that colleges receive.

Hear what our students have to say!


“Kino has real respect for its students. It’s always expected me to be self-motivated and self-disciplined, to know what I’m interested in learning, and why I’m interested in learning it, and to become a good, responsible human being. Growing up at Kino, without grades, without a set curriculum, has taught me the boundlessness of the things I can learn.”

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Kino School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It depends, in part, on the support and engagement of our parents, alums, friends, and students to ensure the school has the resources to sustain our mission. All donations are fully tax-deductible!

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