An important pillar of the Dalton Plan for building community and attending to the needs of every child, House is the home base in school for each Dalton student, and the House advisor (classroom or homeroom teacher) is the parent's key contact with the school. In the First Program and Middle School, House is comprised of students of the same age. In the High School, each House includes students from every grade level, a microcosm of the larger school community. In all divisions, the House Advisor guides and assists each student in the learning process
The First Program views House, the first component of the Dalton Plan, as the basic organizational unit for all students, a gathering place that serves as each student’s home base. Following the guidelines established by Helen Parkhurst, the school’s founder, and articulated in Dalton's K-3 Curriculum Guide, the House Advisor and Associate Teacher in each House create a stimulating, academically rigorous curriculum in the language arts, mathematics, and social studies disciplines, in conjunction with specialists in music, art, science, library, and physical education. In addition, reading and math specialists work with students individually or in small groups to provide support and enrichment. While the academic work is paramount, the purpose of House is to provide a safe, secure, learning environment that encourages risk taking and promotes community building. House at the First Program is comprised of students in the same grade. The House Advisor and Associate Teacher in each First Program classroom maintain close, ongoing contact with parents, informing them as to the social, emotional, and academic growth of the students throughout the year. They also meet formally with parents on designated Report Days in the fall and spring semesters.The House is central to the Middle School program. House Advisors guide students through the school year by carefully following progress in all disciplines, by mentoring young students, and by functioning as the primary liaison with parents.
Middle School teachers serve as House Advisors. This special role as an advocate and mentor assists teachers in building special partnerships with students. The greatest benefit of the House system in the Middle School is that it provides adequate time and space as well as a forum for students to learn life skills and to engage in cooperative discussion. House is a time for dialogue, learning, reflection, and problem-solving. It is an important time of the day when students learn about community and a place where they can share their perspectives on important issues. This learning and sharing is guided by the House Advisors in a warm and supportive environment where students can take risks, share their ideas, discuss, mediate and resolve issues, and learn and model civic responsibility.
In the fourth and fifth grades, students work and learn in largely self-contained classrooms where much of their instruction takes place. They come to think of themselves as members of a classroom community working to build relationships within the grade. Guided by House Advisors who provide support and caring, students become confident learners, expand their knowledge, and refine their social skills.
In the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, when the academic program is fully departmentalized, the House Advisor's role as advocate and mentor is crucial. Each House meets at the beginning and end of every day, as well as for two additional periods, each week. House Advisors help students develop the necessary social and organizational skills to become successful, independent learners.