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Looking ahead-which middle school to best prepare for high school

BlueSkyLifeBlueSkyLife 3 replies2 threads New Member
The process of looking for a boarding school for my older child has now got me thinking ahead for my younger.
In picking a K-8 school for 7th and 8th grade, what are important things to look for with regards to curriculum, electives, clubs, etc.?
I can choose a really small school or one a little bigger.
School 1- Debate as part of curriculum, good athletics, one foreign language, capstone project
School 2- 2 foreign languages, drama and band as part of curriculum, decent athletics, more nurturing environment.
Which seems to be best preparation for later applying to boarding schools?

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Replies to: Looking ahead-which middle school to best prepare for high school

  • BlueSkyLifeBlueSkyLife 3 replies2 threads New Member
    I agree, the fit is just as important. We looked at quite a few schools and these 2 are the ones my kid liked the best. I really liked them too and could see my kid doing well and fitting in at these two. Now it’s just decision time.

    Neither are cut throat, that’s not what either of us are looking for. Neither are huge schools, though one is larger than the other. I wonder if larger would be better. We don’t know yet what type of high school he’ll want and the transition from a very small school to a larger one might be more difficult than the other way around.

    Since many of you have already been through this process, I’m trying to learn as much as I can from your experiences. So any tips or hindsight advice would help.

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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6711 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Middle school remains an easy time to dabble and experiment. So if your kid is really drawn to activities at one, that might point you in the right direction. Excellent academics matter, especially if BS is on the horizon. If you are switching schools, I'd also consider whether one looks like it would be an easier transition. This can be a brutal age, and if a kid is suffering at as ll socially, it can spill over into the rest of their life. It doesn't sound like one would set you up better. With that said, schools that end at 8 tend to be much better at assisting their students in finding what's next. If the school has a 9-12 and you're not likely to be interested in it, you may find the application process for BS to be frustrating and challenging.

    When we were looking at BS, we also briefly considered, then ruled out, day schools that either were K-12 or had a middle school simply because we didn't want DS to have to add breaking into established friend groups to the adjustments he'd need to make. Not sure if that is a consideration in your case.
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  • vegas1vegas1 639 replies3 threads Member
    Here are a few thoughts:
    Our older 2 kids attended a very large public magnet school (1800+ kids) and our younger 2 attended a small (300 kid) public school in a different state as we had moved. Neither impacted their admissions results. The most important qualities are that your child has opportunities to explore things they are interested in, can feel comfortable and make connections with peers and teachers (super important for recommendations) and be challenged academically. I would put the priority in that order. In our experience it. Is equally as important to be a passionate, unique individual as to be strong student. Our kids were all great students, test takers etc. but each also had a lot of other interests that defined them and they were as unique as our kids. They ranged from Robotics to community Service. I think the best school is one where your child can feel free to be themselves and get the ability to try new things. Both schools sound great- but where will your child be most able to explore and be supported?
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2235 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Agree with the other posters that the school that's best is the one where you child can explore and grow and become the best version of him/herself. In addition, some schools are a bit more laid back and the parents are less involved. The kids are allowed to chose what they like rather than choosing what the parents think is best for future college applications.
    Kids can develop very strong interests in middle school. I just received an email from a family friend. Their child in middle school started with a small project that has grown by leaps and bounds. From a yard sale to raising over 100K for a special project in a poor corner of the world. IF the parents had tapped down that interest in favor or something else, that passion would not have grown. The kid was driving the program for years!!!
    IMHO, by analogy not all gardens should look the same and not all people want to grow the same vegetables. My garden looks a lot different from my neighbors but both are beautiful. Let your kids do what interests them and you will end up with kids that schools are scrambling to get.
    If you don't believe me, look at the chance me posts and see how few kids have super strong grades and stats and have done cool and unusual things. Thing which make them truly stand out. Instead, you read over and over the same things. It's no wonder these kids are mystified as to who is getting into the top schools. Your children are not resumes, they are people and education is not just stats. So make your kids strong people and they will have no issue convincing a BS to accept them.
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1662 replies24 threads Senior Member
    Just to add.. bolster skills not just the resume...So, look for math options for acceleration, music options, and strong foreign language programs. There seems to be much variability between schools on the science sequence in middle school. More and more BS’s are now having Physics first in 9th grade. The kids who had some Physics and had strong Algebra with some geometry before 9th grade found HS Physics to be an easier road.
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  • BlueSkyLifeBlueSkyLife 3 replies2 threads New Member
    Thank you for these really thoughtful responses!
    You've all really given me a good idea of how to approach our decision making process. I had started wishing we knew more people with kids in private or boarding to ask for some sort of a road map. So glad I found this forum!

    We're leaning towards the smaller school that doesn't have as many bells and whistles but that has been much more responsive to our inquiries and has a more nurturing community feel. My kid also liked it better when he went for the interview. Said they were really nice and he like the atmosphere. He's a little worried about taking 2 languages since up to now he hasn't had any foreign language, but they've assured us that they would "teach to the child". I'm hoping they live up that.
    The other school has a bit more of an impressive ex-missions list and better facilities (better gym, more acreage) but the admissions process has been really sloppy. Not responsive to phone calls or emails. Just a colder feel. The teachers may or may not be that way but the administration has really soured our thoughts.
    (both are K-8)
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  • hadesinquisitorhadesinquisitor 30 replies3 threads Junior Member
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  • PrepDad2018PrepDad2018 144 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I know this is too late for any consideration....I have the view the actual middle school does not matter. Students going to boarding schools need to be exceptionally mature, engaged, and curious. Most important is how they took advantage of their middle school years.....excelled at an instrument, student government, self-motivated, etc. As others wrote, go with the best fit for the child and don't decide based on a future application. So, whatever you decided was the right decision!
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  • NewTwinMomNewTwinMom 19 replies1 threads Junior Member
    It sounds like you made the right decision. Good luck to you and your son. I’m also exploring K-6/8 schools for my kids who will enter K soon. If you’re comfortable, please PM me the name of the school you chose.
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