What to Do about Middle School

The mysterious they who proclaim themselves to be expert on all things related to child rearing say that middle school is a critical time in a child’s life. Those mysterious pundits whose expertise comes from fortune cookies, guest posts and gumption would have me believe that the wrong choice in middle schools will set off a chain reaction of misfortune that will culminate with me curled up on the floor in a fetal position begging my child for forgiveness.

I wish that I could say that I was making this up, but I can’t. Whenever I hear or read something so silly I find myself engaging Jack’s patented look of disbelief and irritation. It is so effective that even the Shmata Queen recoils from it, but I digress.

Join me for a moment as I walk you through an upcoming parenting dilemma known as what school do I send my child to. For the moment let’s pretend that years of private school tuition haven’t kicked my butt and I am flush with cash, so tuition is not an issue. The issue in a nutshell resembles the following scenario.

During the Jurassic age when I was a student the breakdown for schools essentially looked like this:

Elementary school: K-6
Junior high 7-9
High School 10-12.

Things have changed a bit. Now junior high has been replaced by something they call middle school and it starts in 6th grade. So the breakdown at many schools resembles something that looks like this

Elementary school: K-5
Junior high 6-8
High School 9-12

This creates an issue for me as my son is a 4th grader at a grammar school that goes through 6th grade.  However the classes tend to be quite small as many parents pull their children after 5th grade. They aren’t being pulled because they dislike the education but because many parents think that it is easier to start middle school in the 6th grade and not midstream in 7th.

My son does not want to leave the school. He hopes to be able to graduate from 6th grade. I can appreciate this. He has never gone anywhere else and is very comfortable there. The 6th graders at the school have the usual assortment of privileges bequeathed upon them by age and he wishes to partake of them.

The question that I ask is what is best for him. I of course love that kid like nobody’s business which is why the decision about where to go to school is not going to be made by him. There is a chunk of time before we really have to worry about this, but I must admit that it makes my head spin to realize just how close we are to the next phase.

It is beginning to feel like time is moving at warp speed. A couple of months from now we’ll pick a Bar Mitzvah date. And I just know that I am going to blink and see the boy morph into a teenager. Wonder if there is a way to stop the world from turning for a few minutes, I think I need to catch my breath.

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4 Comments

  1. TheJackB October 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Well, we don't have some of the challenges that you listed above. There is no international movement going on, at least I don't think there will be.

    If we can swing it we'll probably keep him at the current school for a number of the reasons you listed. Just hard to believe that so much "life" is coming at us so quickly.

  2. V-Grrrl October 1, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I'd be inclined to let him stay where he is and enjoy the sixth grade privileges. It will give him a sense of closure, and that and being one of the older kids will make arriving at the next stop (7th grade in a new school) less traumatic.

    That said, we changed countries and went from private schools to public schools where half the kids qualified for the federal free lunch program. We also moved in the middle of a school year. I was braced for some difficulaties and adjustments and there were none. No big deal at all. My kids made a seamless transition to a life that was different in every way from what they'd known before.

    I know middle school can be tough, but it wasn't rough for my son (now in high school) or my daughter, who is in her second year. I will say there are a lot more social ups and downs for the girls, but my son cruised through with minimal drama.
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  3. TheJackB October 1, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Hi Amber,

    I am with you, "they' deserve to be kicked. His birthday is in December so he missed the cutoff for kindergarten and was a little more than 5.5 when he started. It worked out nicely as he ends up being one of the older kids in his grade.

    But we'll see what we do for middle school. I am sort of inclined to keep him at the current school, if I can. Wouldn't hurt him to have an extra year under his belt. Time will tell.
    My recent post Dancing at the Movies – Music Video

  4. Amber October 1, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I kind of want to kick "They" in the pants.

    Seriously.

    Sadly, I went through middle school. Looking back, I think that Jr. High is a much better option. They (I) are just too young to handle the emotional stuff that comes with middle school. Seriously, I wasn't even 12 yet!!

    But, you will figure out what is best for you and your little boy.

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