Preparing to Parent a Middle School Student

It was a Thursday afternoon, and the kids had been getting out of school early all week. I was filled to the brim with meetings and parent teacher conferences, and random somethings that moms of school aged kids have to do. It was also the day of my daughter’s middle school orientation, and I did not want to go.

“It’s ok mom, I know you’re tired, I can go by myself.”

I know you are tired is my guilt maker. Who am I who only works part-time, gets help from my mother on a daily basis, have adequate transportation to anywhere I need to go and the means to feed my kids well, to be feeling “too tired” to go to a school function?

I lied to my kid and pretended that I was more than happy to go and filled with plenty of energy. My own mother worked graveyard shift at a tortilla factory when I was my kids age, and she was still always, there, providing clean clothes, home cooked meals, and a space for me to comfortably work. I have some big shoes to fill, and I intend to do it adequately.

I still was not sure that the school that we had chosen was the correct one, and I had a slight idea that I might still put my kid in a different school. Once I was in the auditorium completely surrounded by dancers, dressed similarly, smiling, wearing matching pearl earrings, I was convinced. Any school that can have that many students show up in the evening and take part in a coordinated dance is doing something right.

We were given lots of options when it comes to middle school. There are charter schools that are still attached to elementary schools, immersion schools, project based learning schools, home schools, private schools, online schools and more. I chose to go to the school that is closest to my home, and right across the street from my child’s current elementary school.

Which one is the right one? How do you choose?

I decided to make my choice based on location with the full knowledge that the “best” school will only be the best school if the student is there every single day, on time, prepared, and able to stay after school if necessary.

Sometimes, though, closer, is not necessarily better.

Julio C Alcala, the current Principal of Chula Vista Elementary school made me feel as if Chula Vista Middle School was the best choice, beyond location and proximity. His students were happy, present, and talented. He showcased dancers, singers, orchestras, bands, and a guitar ensemble. There were plenty of teachers present, but they didn’t do much talking, the students who they worked with all year did most of the talking.

What did they talk about? Getting to school at 7:20 AM to be in a Spanish language immersion program that lasts a full six years if they continue to Chula Vista High. They also talked about the iPads they are getting next year. They showed me their name tags from their advisory that look just like the ones from the Apple store, and they explained to me that they help with the software.

The students also talked to me about their chickens and even tried to get me to pet one.

I was impressed by their programs, but I was most impressed by the ability of the students to express themselves and tell me about what was coming in the next year for my daughter.

Middle school students who can hold conversations in 2019 and still be tech savvy? Yes, please!

Middle school is important. It is a time of change, a time of added responsibilities, a time filled with lots of school projects and activities that you must do on your own, and a time when you still get treated like a child…because you are one. More important than what school you choose, what programs are available, and which friends are going to go where is that your child still feels like he/she is supported.

If you are not comfortable with the choices that you have in your neighborhood, talk to your local teachers, there are other options and choices. Just make sure that whatever decision you make, you stand behind it 100% and give it your all. Middle school is like life in that it is about what you make of it. Remember, an involved parent can always help fill any holes that their middle school of choice may have.

How did you choose your child’s middle school? Are you content with your decision? Please share in the comments.

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Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota

Melissa Cota is a Freelance Writer and long time education advocate, who has worked as a Reading Coach, Tutor, and High School Teacher. She grew up attending Chula Vista schools including Kellogg Elementary, Castle Park Middle and Castle Park High. She went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree from San Diego State University and now hopes to positively affect the Chula Vista Elementary School District through involved parenting.

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