Checklist: What to look for on a middle school visit

By The Understood Team

Compared to grade school, both the social scene and the academics are more complicated in middle school. So it’s more important than ever for kids to feel comfortable in their school’s culture. Here are some factors to consider as you decide which middle school is right for your child.

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How is the school environment?

  • The student-teacher ratio is low enough that my child will get enough attention.
  • I know and agree with the school’s policy on handling disruptive behavior incidents.
  • The school actively prevents and deals with bullying.
  • The school is safe and clean.
  • School officials actively work to prevent students from being suspended or expelled.
  • Afterschool sports, clubs, and activities are available and encouraged.
  • The school has a buddy system to help kids get comfortable in the new setting.

What is the staff like?

  • The school has a psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and case worker to support my child.
  • Teachers and specialists are trained to recognize and work well with kids who learn and think differently.
  • They know how to deal with discipline and behavior issues and have a written policy.
  • Teachers seem knowledgeable and are qualified to teach their subjects.

Does it feel right?

  • My child likes the school and thinks there would be a place to fit in.
  • My child can handle moving between classes and learning from several teachers.
  • The school is supportive and has the proper resources for my child.
  • The school can address my child’s special learning needs.
  • The teaching methods at the school support my child’s learning needs.
  • General education and special education teachers work together.

Does it work for me?

  • The school is near my home or convenient for my child to get to.
  • I like the policy for keeping track of my child’s progress and keeping me informed.
  • There are parent-teacher conferences as needed.

What are the academics like?

  • There’s a reasonable amount of homework.
  • The school emphasizes math and science, as well as English and social studies, and does a good job teaching them.
  • Instruction is differentiated to meet each child’s needs.
  • Students at the school score well on state assessments and standardized tests.
  • The school has a library, a music and arts program, a hands-on science lab, and a computer lab.
  • The school offers electives.
  • Students do well in high school after they graduate from this school.

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    About the author

    About the author

    The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.