How to Choose a Middle School
Updated February 24, 2022
Choosing A Middle School
Can it really be that six years have gone by since you dropped your tiny child off at kindergarten? Ready or not, middle school is coming up next year. The feelings you felt leading up to kindergarten all those years ago may now be coming back in similar form as you think about your child transitioning into uncertainty once again. It’s time to explore Middle Schools and Programs. You can consider private schools, public schools, charter schools, homeschooling and more. At this point, you may have more questions than answers, and you want to be sure you have all the information in your arsenal that will help you make a good and informed decision about choosing a middle school for your almost-middle-schooler next year.
As you are pondering which middle school programs to choose for your child, you might want to consider the following (quoted from a previous Dayspring blog):
The question of the appropriateness of Christian school for your middle school child should not be separate from the question of whether or not Christian school is right for any child. If you are a Christian, then the answer is clear. If we are to train our children in the ‘discipline and instruction of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4), then it behooves us to place our children in an environment that will carry out that command.
Martin Luther asserted,
I am much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.
A century later, on September 26, 1642, the founders of Harvard College in the Rules and Precepts at Harvard stated,
Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2, 3).
God admonishes us to train our children according to his ways (Proverbs 22:6), and Christ strongly reproves his hearers not to cause children to stumble (Matthew 18:6).
When you consider the influx of competing messages that our children encounter every day, shouldn’t we endeavor to surround them with biblical influences wherever and whenever we can?
Character Formation Years
Middle school can be linchpin years for your child. Their world is enlarging, and their independence (physically, intellectually, and emotionally) is increasing. At the same time, research shows that there is a neurological disconnect in the area of logic in an adolescent’s brain. (But you don’t need a research study to show you that). Surrounding your child with truth is essential at this critical time in the formation of their character.
When choosing a Christian middle school, go about it with an understanding of what it means to be a teenager in the 21st century. Electronics and social media have changed the landscape. Information is copious and immediately accessible so parents and teachers must endeavor to somehow stay out in front of it all. Try as you might to keep your child away from “the world,” soon they will be surrounded by other children who may not have the same parameters in their home, no matter what middle school you choose. Being proactive and preemptive, as well as being willing to have frank and, perhaps, uncomfortable conversations with your child about things they may hear at school will help keep your child willing to continue to live by the values you’ve worked hard to instill.
This post is not meant to disparage the many fine public schools in our area. It is meant to begin a dialogue about what educational environment is best for the tender mind and heart of a teenager who you are hoping and praying will grow into a redeemed follower of Christ.
Ask Questions To Make An Informed Choice
A friend of mine recently observed,
If education is like food in many respects, then a wise parent wants to know what the ingredients are in the product. What does the school label as the components of their education? What is the criteria for academic excellence? Is their character training based on biblical standards? What are the qualifications and character standards for the hiring of teachers?
Some other questions could include:
- What is the school’s philosophy of education?
- What are your expectations for your students?
- What is the discipline policy, and is it adhered to according to the letter of the law, or the spirit of the law? (legalism vs. grace-filled?)
- Will my child be prepared with “cultural street smarts” to be able to be a Christian in the world?
- Will the school support my child’s social and emotional development?
- How do you support children with learning issues or academic problems?
- How do you measure teacher effectiveness and ensure high teacher quality?
- What are the electives and how many may the kids choose?
- How will my child be prepared for college or vocational readiness?
- Is the gospel evident and visible throughout the school?
Seek The Lord Through Prayer
Above all pray. We are told to make supplications, prayerfully and thankfully, in exchange for God’s perfect peace (Philippians 4:6). God loves your middle schooler more than you ever could! Go to him first for guidance in making the all-important decision of choosing a private middle school in Lancaster County.
If you have questions about the Principle Approach and how Dayspring may partner with your family in educating your children, please contact us or schedule a tour to visit Dayspring. To learn learn more about students’ experiences at Dayspring, please review our Portrait Of A Graduate.