Nine Characteristics to Look for When Identifying Great Middle Schools

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Finding the best academy middle school for your child is a big factor in their successful high school experience, and even in their college education. While the grades and extracurricular activities that your child participates in in middle school is as critical in their ability to get into good colleges as their high school success, having the best academy middle school experience prepares them for a successful high school education. And this is what gets your child into a good college, and even gives them the skills they need to be successful throughout college, and beyond!

The hard part is, determining the best academy middle school for your child is not a hard and fast science. Finding a school that has a good reputation, excels in both academics and athletics, and offers honors programs is a good place to start. However, the best academy middle school programs also cater to your child’s strengths and temperament, which helps them find their own path for success. There is not an easy guide to finding the best middle school fit for your child, this is a factor that you have to follow your gut on. A few factors to look for when selecting the best academy middle school for your child include:

  1. Students gain their education through a partnership with the teachers, rather than just being treated like minions to have to follow the system. This empower students to advocate for themselves, and helps them gain the confidence to establish their identity. Both of which are important factors in a successful middle school experience.
  2. The school has a spirit of compassion both fostered from the teachers towards the students, and the students are taught to have for each other. Middle school can be a brutal place for an impressionable adolescents to go through; promoting a spirit of caring for each other is essential to prevent bullying, belittling, and shutting students down — common factors in failed middle school experiences.

  3. There is a teamwork mentality between teachers. The classes are not taught silos (or in competition with each other) but as a cohesive experience that the student is enriched by from all angles. This promotes a holistic and healthy education for the child, not just one strong class here or there, mixed with a lot of boring ones they have to endure.
  4. Friendship is promoted through the attitude fostered at the school. Students develop friendships (even with the teachers) that expand beyond the school year.
  5. Students are given responsibilities, and are encouraged to gain problem solving skills, rather than having rules being imposed on them that they have to mindlessly follow. This helps them develop a sense of self development that will strengthen their higher education.
  6. Programs and special events are utilized to help every child within the middle school gain a sense of belonging. Feeling like an outcast is incredibly common at a middle school age, and terrible for a student’s confidence and educational career. Giving the students a sense of community, and confidence that they belong will be an asset to them throughout their educational careers.
  7. Mentor/mentee programs between older and younger students are promoted. This touches several subjects that we previously mentioned: it gives older students responsibility that help them take ownership of their education, and helps the younger students feel like they belong.
  8. The school’s teaching methods are molded to promote a positive experience for the student. Many schools are pressured to teach the students how to pass tests. Teaching systems like these often shut students down; at best, they work the system without gaining any skills, and at worst, they stop engaging in their education altogether. At a middle school age, the greatest skill a child can adopt is to enjoy learning, which gives them an inner desire to excel and helps them take pride in their work.

  9. The schools environment and the curriculum is flexible enough to help students identify their own gifts. Every human has different interests and strengths; some may be better at math and science, while some are better at creativity-driven subjects. This should be understood by administration and promoted.

What do you think is an important quality for a great middle school? Please share with us in the comments.

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