Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch on Choosing a Middle School

Top 3 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Middle School for Your Child by Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch

When Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch first stepped into middle school, he was both excited and anxious. He was excited because he is now a “big boy.” Kindergarten and primary school are for babies. At the same time, he was scared and anxious, too. It was a new environment, with new teachers and new schoolmates. Will he have friends in middle school? Will his new classmates like him? Patrick imagines that every other child about to enter middle school experiences the same fears and anxiety.

Middle school prepares your child for high school, and high school prepares your child for college; and well, college prepares your child for “adult life.” Everything is inter-connected, says Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch, which is why parents should be aware that their choice of middle school is critical to their child’s success moving forward.

The first step in finding the right school for your child is research—extensive and comprehensive research. If possible, talk to parents whose kids are attending the school that you’re eyeing for your child. After you’ve gathered enough information about the school, it’s time to do a little legwork. Visit the school with your child. And then consider these three factors below during your visit:

1. Campus and facilities

Apart from cleanliness, general ambiance, neighborhood, and location, it’s important to check the facilities, too. You want your child to have a pleasant experience in school, and part of this is having modern, working facilities, utilities, and equipment. If arts and recreation are important for you and your child, check to see if there are facilities or dedicated areas for these and if students can use them outside of classes, with permission from the personnel in charge.

2. Staff and faculty

Observe how school staff and faculty interact with the students, advises Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch. Do they appear approachable and friendly? Are they dismissive? Try to talk to some of them as well, especially the teachers. During your brief conversation, you may be able to find out their teaching style, “read” their demeanor and pretty much get a good impression about them. It’s important, too, to see how your child reacts to the teacher/s. Children are naturally intuitive so try to read your child’s body language when in the presence of teachers and staff.

Parents should also talk to the Principal and/or teachers about bullying, says Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch. What measures does the school take to stop and prevent it? This is an important issue that shouldn’t be neglected.

3. Student Tour Guide

A good way, although not fool-proof, to assess the way the school is involved in their students’ development is if they are willing to let you take a tour of the school with one of their students as your tour guide. To a certain extent, you can see how the school teaches kids about responsibility as well as their involvement in academic, elective, and recreational curricula by how your student tour guide conducts himself or herself.


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