What 4th graders should do about middle school

  • Remain calm.

  • Get good sleep. Wash your hands. Get some sun and air and run around as much as you can.

  • Support good habits. Do your homework sooner rather than later. Read all the time. Ask questions. Screen time in moderation.

  • 2019 update: For those of you in District 15 - their middle schools no longer use attendance and punctuality as an admissions criteria. Period. There will still be schools in other districts as well as boroughwide and citywide schools that care about attendance and punctuality. It does count for high school placement. This is just good practice. Make it a lifestyle. Get to school on time. Don't go to school sick. Keep records or Dr. notes if you are sick or have an appointment in the morning. Don't take an extended vacation that make you absent from school. Stop freaking out about attendance. 10 combined lateness AND absences are a red flag, but not for illness or family tragedy. There is too much made of this. You need to come to school to learn. Kids with chronic absenteeism are a problem for a school that only gets worse at middle school. A bad year is not the end of the world, especially if you have good reason. This is not a trick or a trap. The Middle School Principals are all parents. They have been there.

  • Opt out or not, but don't make "The Test" a fearful mystery that becomes a big anxiety later. Almost no district school in Northwest Brooklyn use the tests as a factor in placement. The one that does, has a work around that many parents prefer. Stop freaking out about the test scores. Opting out is a worthy political act and a different discussion. Check out what schools will use instead here.

  • Check out your middle school fair without your child this year. The Fairs usually happen in early Oct. When the dates are listed in the fall, they will be on the DoE’s website.

Don't talk about this process in front of your children in anxious tones!!! You don't think that they are listening as they play on your phone or run around yelling while you talk to your friend on the corner - BUT THEY HEAR YOU and you are telegraphing your fear to them. Stop it. Stop your friend when they bring it up. Tell them you will call them later when the kids are away. I am not telling you to stop talking about it all together, just stop within earshot of your children. If you are not freaked out, they will not be freaked out.

I asked my grown kids if they were freaked 11 years ago when we were going through the process. At that time it was literally a desert of options so there was lots to worry about (you all have SO many more great choices now, and yes there are more kids, but seriously you have PLENTY of good options). They said, "No. Nobody talked about it. We just all went to the schools that our parents told us we were going to." YES. Back in the day, parents ate out their stomach linings in private, at PTA meetings and grown up parties. Not in front of their children and their children had no idea.

I will be giving lots of Middle School talks next spring/summer and fall and when I do, they will be listed here.