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General questions re: Middle School (from mom of a 5th grader)


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sjst1000 September 22, 2008


Hi everyone!


I'm new to this group. With a son who is in 5th grade, I've started researching middle school programs in my area.


As I do this, I realize what a different world middle school is from elementary, and it leaves me with a ton of questions. I know that I'll get my best informations not from the schools themselves, but from other moms. So I'm wondering, if you all wouldn't mind answering stuff like:


- what do you think is important in a middle school? I realize programs differ, so I'm wondering, what do you like about yours?


- what do you dislike in your program?


- what questions did you ask when choosing the school where your child now attends?


Because we have open enrollment, if there's room in a specific program, my son can attend. So it gives you lots of choice, but that choice is almost too overwhelming; you don't want to make the wrong decision for your child :c)


Thanks so much!


Suzette


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DeborahHamilto September 23, 2008


To be honest I never had the say so where my kids go.they always had to go to the school in their distrit.I did sometimes when I gave the school a different address and that didn't last all the school year,because I got caught when my kids accidently put their real adress on the paper for the teacher.

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tjlove September 24, 2008


I personally haven't encountered this type of school choice yet- I'm in the process of preschool choice- but I think this question has the potential to be a great resource for parents. So hopefully my reply will bump it up!

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MagnetMom September 24, 2008


Hi sjst1000,

Boy do I feel you. I did this once eight years ago, and I'm three years from having to do it again. Middle school by far is the roughest, most challenging school transition to make. And I'm not looking forward to finding another school for my daughter.

Things to look for include how they handle the sixth graders. Do they segregate them as much as possible? Do they give them extra time to figure out lunch lines, PE dress out, lockers, and the like? Does that extra time last a week, a month, or most of the year? Do they let them out of class a few minutes early to figure this stuff out? Are the sixth graders segregated for PE?

Do they keep the same homeroom teacher for all three years? Do they keep some of the same teachers for social studies or math? There's less of a personal learning curve on both sides if your son has World History with one teacher and then US History the next with the same teacher. And if your homeroom teacher is with your child for all three years, they can spot some of the craziness that virtually all kids will experience--and they can spot it faster because they know "normal."

Do the teachers team teach? Do the math and science teachers work together and do the English and Social Studies work together to help foster deeper understanding of the material?

What is the homework policy? All teachers and administrators will say they work together and make sure they don't schedule things on the same day, so ask the kids--and the parents. Is the homework for review, for enrichment, or for parental torment? This will come into play even more in high school as the kids surpass what the parents can do mathematically.

What's the turnover rate? Obviously it could change later and you'd have no control over it, but knowing that only 2-3 teachers my son had between 2001-2004 have left the campus means a lot of stability to me.

The important thing is to go on tours, see with your own eyes, ask a lot of questions, and don't be swayed by the parents who all talk about school "x" because it's sooo academic/incredible/artistic/whatever. You're looking for a school for YOUR child.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

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odachimaster September 30, 2008


if you have a certain program you want him in and he is in agreement that is one down find the schools that offer the closest to what you want. Next take a look at the schools test results they will be posted under State Education and most states are having the teachers send in how their working conditions are I google NC teachers working conditions; and there it was. You can tell alot by this. You can check how many students receive reduced lunch typically this only tells you what income bracket but studies are now showing that teachers of high reduce lunch schools are less tolerant of students... easily aggravated...

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ptlomamom October 10, 2008


it sounds like every state/city has different procedures, programs, tradition, etc. I have a 6th and 8th grader. in my community we have several options: our neighborhood public school has a lower middle school (5-6) then an upper (7-8); we have several private options; popular charter schools; and then of course there is our choice option throughout the district.

my children's needs range from special education to highly gifted--and their interests/strengths are even broader. but ultimately we chose to send them to our neighborhood public schools. the reason? well...being apart of our community was important to us, knowing the kids on our street and having them in classes, walking to school, study groups, sports, etc. we are very happy.

advise....
...don't rely solely on the information you get from other parents and websites. GO to the school: tour it, ask LOTS of questions, the GO BACK and do it again. i've found that personal opinions and numbers don't always tell the full story.
...remember, your child will be moving up with an entire grade. so those 'big kids' will be moving on, and the 6th graders will be their peers.
...middle school years are just crazy. hormones, development, etc.
...go to a parent group meeting. you will get an up close and personal view of the culture there.
...unless your child has very strong interests or needs, your childs needs will probably be met in whatever environment you choose.
...most importantly, you can always change your mind. involve your child and keep weighing your choice, even after the year has started.

good luck!!

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debrasuefitzge October 16, 2008


i didnt have a say where my kids went,we live in rockbridge county so my daughter had to go to lexington va. school and my middle kid is in 2 and she elementary school in naturalbridge

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wiegmans November 17, 2008


I HAVE MY SON, WHO IS NOW IN SEVENTH GRADE, IN SMALLER CLASSES WHICH HELP HIM BETTER PREPARE FOR HS. HE IS DYSLEXIC. SO FOR HIM HE HATES READING ANYTHING. THE SPECIAL ED TEAM IN MY SCHOOL DISTRICT HELPS ME FIGURE OUT WHAT HE NEEDS HELP IN. BECAUSE OF HIS READING HE HAS A CHOICE OF TAKING A TEST BY HIMSELF OR HAVE SOMEONE READ IT TO HIM. I ALSO EMAIL ALL TEACHERS BECAUSE IT KEEPS ME INFORMED OF HIS SCHOOL WORK AND IF THERE ARE ANY PROBLEMS. YOU HAVE TO KEEP COMMUNICATION WITH THE SCHOOL OPEN FOR ANY REASONS. AS WITH ANYTHING, SOME DAYS I LOVE THE SCHOOL BUT SOME DAYS LIKE NOW WITH MY BULLY ISSUE I HATE IT. I HOPE THIS HELPS.

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chilepepper November 20, 2008


Hello Everybody,
I am also new to this group. I am a military spouse currently living in New York but soon to be moving with my family to the Georgia area. I have a 12 yr. old son who is presently in the 6th grade. My husband is due to return from overseas in the next couple of months and then we will prepare for our 5th move of his career. As you all can imagine another move for a child my son's age can be very tough, simply because he has to make new friends again, try to fit in, and leave his old friends behind. My husband and I have been researching the internet for information on the school districts/systems in and round the Bloomingdale, Pooler, Savannah, and Richmond HIll, GA . areas but I am really not getting the right information that I am looking for. For example, I would like to hear from the parents of the children in each of these locations. I would like to know which public schools you feel strive to serve the child best; academically, emotionally, and professionally? In other words, I don't want my child to slip through their fingers so to speak. He has a hard enough time trying to keep up with all the homework now, I just want to know that there are schools out there that still care about their students progress. Through the years I've dealt with a number of teacher's who just don't care about their students but I figure that their attitude had a lot to do with poor leadership. At least that's what I attributed it to. I would greatly appreciate it if you all could please give me your opinion's and some insight on some of the public schools in Bloomingdale, GA., Pooler, GA. and Richmond Hill, GA. I know that I can easily call the schools themselves but I really don't want to hear their school philosophy statement, I just want some up front and honest opinion's.

Thank you,
Mireya


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tjlove November 20, 2008


Hi Mireya,
Welcome to GreatSchools! We have a group for military families here that you might be interested in joining as well: http://community.greatschools.net/groups/19375

The best way to ask questions about local schools is using our Q&A forum and categorizing your question as "Local." Here are instructions on how to do that:

http://community.greatschools.net/advice/678/Got-a-question-about-specific-schools-in-a-city--Read-this-discussion-

You can also use the GreatSchools Research and Compare tool to look up schools in your new area.

Here's a link to our page for Georgia schools by city. Just click on the city name to be taken to the school info: http://www.greatschools.net/schools/cities/Georgia/GA

Hope this helps!
TJ

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JenniferBanzon December 12, 2008


I am comparing magnet programs in the Los Angeles dirtrict for middle schools. My child is in 5th grade and we have to apply before January 9th. We are visiting schools and talking to as many people that know the schools as we can.

I am carefully evaluating these primary factors to make my decision:
Academic challenge and breadth of content covered
Elective options including science, technology, and language
Location
Class size
Total student population
School culture and environment
Ability of school to maintain quality and reputation over time
Use and application of technology in curriculum
Quantity of homework and projects
Methods of teaching science
Science and technology electives
Creative arts
After school club and athletic programs
Tutoring programs and access to additional help
Degree of collaboration among teachers within grade level
Campus condition and cleanliness

My daughter's criteria includes:
Number of friends moving to same school
Learning opportunities
Use and application of technology in curriculum
Location - not needing to ride the bus
Total student population
Quantity of homework and projects
Dress code and uniform policies
Variety of methods used to conduct learning opportunities
Access to 2 sets of books versus using lockers and carrying everything
Campus condition and cleanliness

Hope this helps.



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