Large Middle School - How Do Kids Cope?

Updated on August 11, 2012
M.E. asks from Deerfield, IL
17 answers

We are considering buying a home in an area that has really large schools. The middle school is grades 5-6 and has 850 students. The Jr. High is 7-8 and has close to 900 students. Unfortunately, my daughters' are coming from a k-8 Catholic school that had 210 students. These school's are highly rated. How do teacher's supervise so many kids? Just the sheer density of children seems problematic. We are also considering a house that has smaller public schools. We love the house in the neighborhood with the big schools but I feel the transition might be problematic.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Fargo on

My kids have transitioned well. The classes are just as small, they just have more teachers and rooms. I also felt I knew the teachers just as well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My daughter just started Jr High (7th and 8th). There are 1250 kids there. Frankly, she has 7 or 8 different classrooms and a 25 min lunch. There is no time to be overwhelmed or even notice there are a ton of kids! When she was in elementary, she only had 1 teacher. Jr High is a huge change for kids anyway so I think you will be ok buying the house you want. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on

middle school is such a drastic change anyway, this is probably the perfect time to do this. if you love this house, i'd certainly go with it.
i went from a tiny, tiny private christian all-girl school to a vast american high school with more kids graduating per year than attended my entire K-12 school. it was culture shock!
but i adjusted and liked it. kids are VERY adaptable.
the teachers aren't supervising 800 kids at once. the class sizes are limited by law and are probably not much more than what your kids are used to.
smaller public schools does not equal better public schools. if these schools are highly rated and you love the house, do it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Those really aren't large schools, you're just coming from an unusually small school (I also went K-8 Catholic appx 250 students). Our 3-5 school (secondary elementary) and 6-8 (middle school) have about 900 kids. All of the kids funnel into the 3-5 school from one of three primary elementary schools of about 300 students. Obviously coming from an extremely small school it will feel large to you and your kids at first, but I point this out so that you can see that these are actually average size schools from an administrative standpoint and aren't unusual. What you anticipate as problematic simply isn't. I was daunted too having come from tiny schools myself but really, schools of this size are totally manageable.

Schools of this size usually break the kids down into smaller groups - teams, pods, etc. For example in our 3-5 school, there are two halves of the school. Each half has a cluster of 3, 4 & 5 classrooms. Those grade clusters are treated as one unit - so all of the 3rd grade classrooms in a school half are in one area, they all eat lunch and have recess at the same time, etc. The kids don't switch classrooms throughout the day in these grades.

In the middle school (our 6-8), each grade is divided into three teams and the kids do switch classes for different subjects, but stay within their team. So all of the red team kids have the same English, Math, Science and Social Studies teachers etc. and those classrooms are near each other so they're not traveling all over the school.

I like a lot about larger public schools vs. my teeny private school. For one, there are lots more kids to be friends with. In my school growing up, if you peed your pants or picked your nose in Kindergarten, people still teased you about it in 8th grade because you were with the same 20 kids year after year. There was no room to breathe or change or grow. We lacked resources such as really good PE equipment, good music and art programs, and foreign language. The only sports were basketball or being a basketball cheerleader. We had no extra-curriculars because there's only so much a school can spend with such a small student body. In public school my kids get so much more opportunity to do things outside of the core academic areas.

Schedule a tour of the schools that you're considering - that might give you a better feel for how you think they handle everything.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Our son did that transition and it was fine. He had only been in small private schools for his entire education. Until 6th grade. Our public middle schools (their are only 2 in the county) average around ###-###-#### students. This is for grades 6-8.

He was just fine. They are very organized. :)
Our daughter will go into 6th next week at the same school. And she'll be find too.
No matter how many kids are physically present at the school, they still have a limit to how many are in each class. It isn't like college where they sit in an auditorium with 200 other kids for a lecture.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I went from a tiny private Christian school with 100 kids total to a large city school with 100 kids on EACH of six teams. The school was big and overwhelming at first, but I grew to like it. Remember that it WILL be different. Frankly, I liked the huge middle school better than my smaller small town school I went to the year after that. Go visit the schools and see how they are vs just going by the numbers. If they do things like teams, that can foster camaraderie. And no one teacher oversees 900 students. Classes are likely to be a lot bigger, but even in a reading class of 30 students, a teacher can still do a good job. It's just the norm in big schools. Some of their classes are likely to be bigger and some smaller. In middle school they move around and often see the same kids that are on their level in multiple classes.

Our current district has schools the size of shopping malls. I about wrecked my car the first time I realized it was a school I was passing. But we've now put 2 kids through the system and overall they say it was fine. They find their niche. My SD was the theatre kid and spent most of her time in theatre related classes and after school with the theatre kids, which created a smaller group within the larger school.

Having done some bouncing around in middle school, I suggest that anytime you can get your kids in when there's an influx of other new kids, that is great. Everyone was new in 5th grade when all the elementary schools merged. But in 6th it was harder because I was new and they were not. And take the kids to the school. Let them ask questions and mull over the differences. Point out things they can do at that school that they couldn't at their little school - I took orchestra, which was not offered at either smaller school. Gym class included swimming. No small town school could offer an olympic swimming pool at the middle school. Etc. (It may also have been that MN has a ton of lakes and they felt it was just good water safety to have everyone learn to swim).

Make it an adventure vs big and scary. Prepare them for the culture change (when you lose a sweater, you have to see if it's in lost and found vs someone bringing it to you) and see how they swim. Sometimes a big pond is just room to grow.

ETA: Both my sks went from a private school to the public district and SS was in middle school at the time. I'd say they both did well and found their feet. SS graduated last May from an Honors College and SD will be attending college this fall.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Our son went from a private school with 15 kids in his grade to public school (after a move) with 60 kids in his grade (3 classes of 20).
His middle school has about 600 in his grade (they do teams of 4 teachers per team each of which is home room to about 25 kids and there are 6 teams).
Each class moves as a group to the next teacher on the team, so the same 25 kids are together all day (although at lunch they can sit with friends from other homerooms or other teams and kids who take band or chorus or other electives meet from other teams).
Also, what I like about this school is - each grade (6th, 7th and 8th) gets it's own wing so the kids do not mix age groups up till high school.
There are ways to manage large numbers of students, and our school does it well.
A nice thing about a larger number of students is more opportunity to find/make more friends.
In small school situations, you can be stuck with the little cliques that can sometimes form and there ARE no other kids to make friends with.
I would suggest calling the school and making an appointment to meet with the principal - discuss your concerns and let them explain how they manage their school and student body.
Once you have the information, a big school might not be a problem at all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I came from a small (not highly rated) district. My husband comes from the opposite. We live in an excellent rated, large (High school is 5000 students). Frist off, they have more teachers to handle the larger numbers. The second thing I stress to think about - the opportunities for academics are greater at the larger districts. They will have more AP classes, more opportunities in class schedules, more extracurricular clubs, more interest groups. My high school had 6 AP classes, offered at one time only. I'm a little jealous of all the academic opportunity that my husband had and that my children will have.

On the flip side - the sports opportunities will not be as abundant since it is much more competitive with the larger pool of team candidates.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Hi TGG, we started out in a small city. All kids in a teeny neighborhood Catholic school. One class per grade, 20 kids per class. Basically EVERYTHING we did, we did with the same 10 or 15 families. All things church, school, sports, scouts, ALL activities. I also WORKED in the school with the kids.

When they were in 2nd, 5th, and 7th grades, we built a house in the burbs, in a large suburban school district. I was so accustomed to being involved in every little thing they did, knowing every single kid/family, even BEING in school with them everyday. Now I had three kids in three different schools with THOUSANDS of people we had never met. It was terrifying! Can't even tell you how many OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE?! moments I had.

The first couple of years I did everything I could to be involved, try to GET IN THOSE SCHOOLS!! as much as I could, just to get a feeling about the place.

My kids adjusted spectacularly well. I think they're just WAAAY more flexible than we are, you know?

Looking back (the two elder are college students, the youngest is a sophomore in HS) I can honestly say I have only ONE regret.

And that is, our church here had a grade school too. But my kids went to the public school. I did not like being one of the "church families" whose kids did not go to school there, you know? We were kinda outsiders. Plus the religion classes they took were ridiculous compared to what they were learning in their old school. Also the CYO basketball program kinda dissed the "Church Kids" over the kids who went to school there.

In hindsight, I'd chosen a church with NO school.

I have completely dropped the ball with regards to church. Didn't like the priest, didn't like the director of Ed at church, etc. So now I've got three kids who have not been confirmed. :(

However, I've been VERY pleased with the school district. I def missed God at school, but I think the kids had such a solid beginning they were prepared for ANYTHING after their time at Holy Cross.

Anyway, my college students were VERY prepared, our district has everything they need to excel.

So overall, I think it was a success. Except the church thing, sigh.

But then, I suspect where EVER we went, we'd've found the good, they would've been successful. Life is what you make it, and no matter where you go, there you are, right?

Good Luck!


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The real question is what are the actual class sizes. If they have enough rooms and teachers, that's what really matters.

I went to a large jr. high and high school. The hardest part was not getting squished in the halls. Once you made it to your class it was fine. I prefer larger schools, although there are cliques, there are lots of people to make friends with.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lansing on

Coming from a personal experience. I think your son might have a better chance at the bigger school.

I went to a small parochial school for 11 years of my life then was put in a small public high school near our home. It was so hard to get integrated with peers as they had been going to school together for a long time and it was such a small school it was obvious I was the new kid. So it took quite some time to feel comfortable and even to this day I look back thinking of how hard it was. I personally felt going to a bigger high school would have been easier to make friends.

And for what its worth my graduating class was 80.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

start asking the district questions....& visit all facilities during the school day.

my sister's kids attended a middle school, jr high, & high school with over 2000 students. They all had great friends, had active lives...geared towards their personal interests, & all thrived. & I want to be clear: they thrived....just not survived.

the kicker here is: it's not about the sheer # of students, but the individual class size & whether or not the school's population has outgrown the facilities. If you're looking at a campus with trailer classrooms, then the district's overcrowded.

Oh, & I just spent time in New Mexico. My niece is a new teacher, & her H.S. has over 3000 students. The facility is HUGE! She's excited about the working conditions & is looking forward to school starting.

But I will be honest: all of this is weird & wild to me! My sons each had/have 100-125 in their graduating class. That's 400-500 for the H.S., & 300-375 for the middle school. There are NO tryouts for sports...they pretty much take everybody physically-able! In fact, my son's class is numbering at 125 which is exactly how many girls tried out for my niece's cheerleading squad!

Ask your questions & really look at their #s....both population-wise & academically. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think it would be a bit overwhelming in the beginning but they would adjust just fine.

Our schools are large. The K-5 has about 900, Middle 6-8 has about 1200, High school 9-10 has about 1200, 3 Sr. High Schools 11-12 has about 2400. My daughter is in the smallest Sr. High and her graduating class will be approximately 1200 in June of 2013

Teachers and students in schools this large think nothing of it. There are basically 3 schools within each school beginning in middle school. You have regulars, Honors and gifted and as they move up Honors, AP and IB.

Most of the students who are driven for education, have parental support and guidance are all in the Honors and up programs. These students are focused on their education, grades and opportunities for acceptance in good colleges.

Typically, the issues lie within the regulars classes where a lot, not all, off the students are not driven, the trouble makers, etc.

Teachers in our area handle the larger classes well. There are a lot of study groups which force you to work with other people in developing ideas and solutions. Study Groups are important and they are vital in college and business school later on.

If possible, go visit the school in question and see the routines they have. Most are very structured. Most also welcome visitors to observe.

99% of the students in my daughter's high school which is named in the top 100 in the US thrive and go on to college. They look at it as college as no option and they are well prepared for college when they graduate.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

i graduated with 500+ kids (just seniors!) and jr high was probley 500 or so? but we all kept to one part of the school. Like 6th grade science,math,history,english were all close together in the same part of the building. We did have about 25-30 kids in a room. I am seeing that today there isnt much discipline for the kids allowed and it gets outta controll. My teacher friends all hate there jobs. My Art teacher finds herself with out a chair often because throught out the year they often sardine them in her room and she has no place to set them aside from her own chair...removed from the desk. all in all that is what it will be a transition. i am a shy person but once i got use to the school i made lots of different type friends. it was great.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My daughter's middle school (6-8) had about 1,000 students. They made it feel much smaller by creating teams. Each grade had 3-4 teams. Each team had 4 teachers. The core classes (math, english, social science and science) were taught by these 4 teachers. The students in the team (around 100) had their classes with these teachers. Also they had their other classes - PE/Health and "specials" (art, music, foreign language, etc) with the team. Lunch was by grade, so they were able to sit with their friends from other teams at lunch. It worked well. Plus the principal was pretty strict (and very well liked).

I would talk to the principal and/or counselor at the school and see how they will help your children transition. I am sure they deal with this all the time. Good luck with your decision!



answers from Chicago on

You'd be surprised at what kids can cope with. If the schools are highly rated, they must be doing something right!



answers from Chicago on

My daughter's middle school is 6 to 8th grade and has about 900 kids. At one point the building had almost a thousand and they had to stop enrolling at ours and bus kids in our zone to a school farther away.

In 6th grade all the kids were kept in one area, upstairs, where there were really no bigger kids. At the start of the year they really help the new kids with how to get from one room to another, how to keep their lockers, how to use the hallway the right way, etc. They put your locker near your classes usually and cluster the rooms so you aren't criss crossing the world. Most also have "teams" of kids which they are mainly with for the whole year. My daughter was with the same 30 kids for the majority of her day. band and gym were bigger, half the class has gym while the other half had either band, choir or electives (computer, cooking, etc.). During science and social studies she had about 15 kids from her core group and 15 from the other core groups, so still a lot of kids she knew and had the whole day with. SO there were about 15 kids that were in every class of hers and 15 that were in over half of the day with her. Lunch was the WHOLE grade level and that was the biggest issue cause you had to plan your time so you had enough to eat.

When they were at over capacity (fire dept told them no more kids!) they had staggered passing periods and longer ones so that it wasn't as crowded.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions