Do you feel a large or small school is better for a fairly normal child? (Long)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My easy child (but Learning Disability (LD)) twelve year old wants to go to a large Middle School next year. In Wisconsin, you have a choice where your kids go to school. During a three week period you can "choice" your child into a public school in a different district as long as you provide the transportation.

    During the last year my daughter, who is not a difficult child, has joined a skate club at our roller rink and has made many friends at a nearby middle school. She wants to go there next year for many reasons. One is that the girls at our very small school (there are only 15 girls in all in 7th grade) are starting to gt b*tchy and fight. She has always had a lot of friends, but this year some have turned on her and, since there are hardly any kids that go to this school, she can't really disregard them and join another group. She doesn't like the fighting and backbiting.

    Her second reason is that she loves sports and they have more opportunities at the middle school for competitive girls sports and at a higher level.

    Her third reason is that there is more educational opportunities. Now daughter is Learning Disability (LD), and there is no real Learning Disability (LD) program in 7th grade at this small school. They help her out, but they don't really offer that much. In the bigger school, they still have Learning Disability (LD) services. She is doing ok grade-wise this year, but sometimes she needs extra help and doesn't know quite where to get it, and we've been getting the runaround. Sounds simple, right?

    My now 24 year old went to the middle school that my younger daughter wants to attend. She started using drugs there. The kids would smoke pot on the way to school and there is a tough element at the school that doesn't exist in the smaller school. Pretty much, it's such a small school that everyone knows who does what and there is much less of a drug problem and a "bad kid" element. They tend to ship the bad element out fast.

    Not everyone at this bigger middle school is "Bad Element." Many are very good kids who do well in life, but I'm terrified because of what happened with my older daughter. Her situation was different. She had been put into this school not knowing anyone and her personality was different. Nobody knew her and nobody paid attention to her except for the "bad" kids. My twelve year old already has friends at the school.

    Everyone, even my 24 year old, tells me to let younger daughter go to the bigger middle school, but I'm afraid. Younger daughter is begging me to let her go, that she is tired of the small amount of kids at her current school, that the sports teams aren't good enough, etc. etc. etc. She says, "I'm not J." She isn't.

    Comments? Thoughts? Anyone?
  2. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Wouldn't you be driving her to school? If you are driving her, then you wouldn't have to worry about her doing drugs before school.

    Typically, kids that are very involved in competetive sports aren't really into doing drugs. If she's interested in the school because of the sporting aspect, I'd like to think that she's not going that route. On top of that, add in a diligent mom who's already seen how it happens....well you get the idea.

    The Learning Disability (LD) services would make me want to send her there too.

    Can you send her there and later decide to return her to the other school another year, if she isn't doing well?
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks for answering.
    I would be driving her and picking her up, a big plus, unless she needed to stay after school. Then she would end up at the library, which is next door, and wait until I got there. Lots of kids from that school do it.
    Yes, she could go back to our home school at any time. We need to choice her out within a three week span of time, but they can't stop her from returning to her home school.
    The Learning Disability (LD) services continue at the larger school :) I'm just scared because of my other child.
  4. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    My feeling is that no matter where you send her to school, at her age and in that grade level, you would have to have your eyes wide open for possible drug use or falling in with the wrong crowd of kids anyway.

    I think all the reasons to send her there are valid and make sense and if you don't mind providing transportation, then I would give it a try. I'm guessing that if, say, halfway through the year things aren't going as planned, you can always send her back to the other school?

    The first thing I would do is contact the smaller school, however, and speak with someone in the guidance office to find out what services are available - do all teachers offer extra help during the day or afterschool, etc? I would also speak with easy child about advocating for herself in that regard. If she feels herself slipping or not understanding something in class, will she ask for the help or will she wait until she is too far behind and then struggle the rest of the quarter? That kind of stuff.

    Secondly, if you can, speak with other parents whose kids go to that school now and hear what they have to say.

    Drugs are everywhere and there is no guarantee that whichever school she attends, she won't try them at some point - hopefully not. I think if she's involved with positive people and activities, chances are slim that she will get into that sort of thing. However, the kids in our town are VERY involved in sports - all sorts of sports - and they are the biggest offenders of drug and alcohol use here. We're a small town and very little in the way of 'fun' activities for the kids to involve themselves with outside of school and sports. I can't tell you how many kids have wrapped themselves around a tree due to alcohol and drug use here. Sports are not a guarantee that kids won't use or try drugs/alcohol.

    Good luck~
  5. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    You now know the signs to watch for as far as the drugs, I think you need to let her try, she has very good reasons. Just keep an eye out, but you would have to be careful of being too worried, ya know?
  6. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    I understand your fear.

    But Loth brought up a good point, if she is into sports, her focus is different then her big sisters was at that time. Plus, You will be driving her this allows you to meet any new kids she is meeting if you have to drive them home, etc...

    We both know that there are kids who do drugs in every school in every district.

    I also hear from my younger son that he isn't Alex. I think being afraid for our younger children is just a fear we are going to have to live with.

    In my opinion, I say give it a try. The Learning Disability (LD) program might make a huge difference in her and motivate her to work hard.

  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I think that there are very good reasons for your easy child to go to the larger middle school.
    Existing friends, Learning Disability (LD) support, sports program.

    If you are driving her to and from, then you don't have to worry about what she's getting up to on the way there and back.

    As Loth said, kids who are into sports and athletics often don't get into drugs even when some of their peers are experimenting, because it affects their performance so badly.

    You do know the warning signs to look out for, your easy child is a different girl with a different personality than your older daughter, AND she probably has some idea from the family history that drugs are to be avoided.

    AND you have the ability for her to return to the old school if things don't work out.

    I think it sounds like a good opportunity for her all around.

  8. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    My experience.....difficult child is SO social, so outgoing, and also wants to be part of the group. He went to a large elementary school (almost 900) and then a large middle school (over 1000 kids). He got into the wrong crowd at middle school, age 10. But soon switched friends. He was in Special Education, and maybe for a normal kid it is a great opportunity, but difficult child has so much anger he started off with a bad reputation and that followed him all three years. I think I was at school every day for three years!!!!!

    on the other hand, my neighbor sent her kids to a very small charter school. 180 total kids K - 8. There is not nearly the opportunities as the large school. And I think if my difficult child would of gotten involved it would of made a world of difference. The neighbor kid is so isolated from the kids her age. She is terrified of high school next year.

    difficult child - he started High School this year. The district High School is a block away. Over 3000 kids. We chose a small college prep High School. 350 kids total 9 - 12.
    Some days he likes it, many days he hates it. Even though he is technically part of the district HOME school, he misses seeing all his friends at that school. But, he can be involved in activities from the home school if he chose. The small school is really tough due to the academics there. But if he stays there he will earn 22 college credits by the time he graduates. (fingers crossed).

    For me, I just couldn't handle fighting with a school that large. I don't think the staff would care as they do at this small school. My easy child went to the large High School, but he is a easy child, and he had no trouble.

    I never know when difficult child leaves if he will have a good day or a bad day. He tends to let the staff know exactly what's on his mind....usually not good.

    But, as for opportunities, yes the large school has so much to offer, if only he were a easy child.

    If I had to start over again...difficult child would not have skipped a grade. And I would choose the same High School.

    Transportation...he walks to the district school, takes a bus to the small school. After school he takes the bus back to the district school. He also would have the chance to take classes at both schools if he chose. They would shuttle him back and forth. He chose not to do that this year. Too many classes he wanted at the technical school. Like engineering, micro computers, CAD...
    Maybe in the future.

    Remember if you choose a school out of your district, the friends would not live near you. That is a big issue for us. Not having his old friends at this school.

    We too live in Wisconsin. LOL - with the school choice, he would of had to be accepted and approved by the new school. And if he got in trouble, they could send him back to the district school. (his friend tried this) With our luck he would not be accepted due to his reputation. EVEN though he has changed and improved so much.

    Good Luck.
  9. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I think one of the hardest things we do as parents of difficult children is to let our pcs try their wings. We KNOW how badly things can go wrong. But it isn't fair to our pcs to hold them back because of what our difficult children did. I'd take a deep breath and let her go to the big school.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks again.
    Ok, I do know that kids in sports can get into trouble. I am hoping that N. makes good choices. She saw her sister in handcuffs, and, right now (at age 12) has no desire to go through the drama her sister did. That doesn't mean she won't change, but they ARE very different. So this isn't about a difficult child going to a big school.

    We have talked to our small school until we are blue in the face. They don't really have much in the way of Learning Disability (LD) services after sixth grade. If she stays here, she will be in a small school until she graduates. These kids are not transferred to the bigger school, and there are maybe 40 graduates each year. I have always considered this a big plus, but my daughter doesn't like having so few to chose from as friends. She is very social, but not particularly caring about whether or not her friends are "popular" or not. She doesn't like drama queen

    We are going to spend the year checking it out at the other school since we can't transfer her this year anyway. We'd have to pay tuition. Like we have $6K a year!!! If anything starts to stink, the other school won't have to kick her out. I'll bring her back myself. So far she has never been in trouble.

    Keep the comments coming if you like. I am a very nervous mother, and, yes, I need to let her go. But encouragement helps me make decisions. Hub is on daughter's side :)
  11. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Honestly, I don't think there is a decision here. You've given every good reason why your daughter deserves to go to this school. The only reason for her not to go is your fear. To me, this is like the first time I let my daughter cross a very busy street by herself. It terrified me. I'd seen a child run over at that very corner. I watched her cross from a spot where she couldn't see me but from where I could still get to her if needed. She made it safely across the street with no help from me. Heck, she even made it back without me even knowing she had crossed again (her friend's mother was supposed to drive her home but the girls got iinto a fight).

    You have to let your daughter grow. She can't do this if you use her older sister as a reason to keep her a little girl. She's going to travel her own path regardless of what you do. She'll make totally different mistakes from her sister and, yes, maybe even one or two of the same. She'll do this no matter what school she's in.

    Barring any other reason, I'd choose the larger school for the simple reason she has a better chance at learning at this school. They have the better resources for her. Being into sports and not having a good sports program at the smaller school is also a good reason for attending the larger school. I'm sure she has dreams of possibly the Olympics on a team or possibly a college scholarship and that's not going to happen if she doesn't get as many chances as possible to participate. The fights and pettiness between her friends will happen no matter what school she's at. That goes with middle school.

    So, let her go. Worry. Be aware. Protect her as much as possible but let her go.
  12. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    We live in Wisconsin too-

    We decided to send our kids to other schools closer to where we work (they actually went to husband's school)-still our district but not there home school.

    For the most part it has worked out well especially for difficult child. I think for easy child too although it is hard not having a lot of friends in the neighborhood.

    It does sound like it would be a good move for your daughter, good luck in your decision making.
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I would vote for the larger school.

    Already having friends there is a big plus, and adding the sports, extra help available if necessary, and that she wants to go...I would let her go.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, everyone. I really value your input. I am leaning toward letting her go. The only down side is the driving, but it's not that far. I guess I'll have to **** it up and try not to worry too much :) You're right that I can't shelter her forever :)