What I learned about the NYC Middle School Process


First off, don’t sweat it. I know, easier said than done, but really, there IS a school out there for your kiddo. I remember when we were starting the process last year I had no idea where to start. For a minute I got all worked up about submitting applications, going on tours and doing research that I was getting overwhelmed with all of it. I had to take a step back and allow myself to see the process clearly. After I realized it was actually giving us a good look at all of the options we had at our disposal, the process became much easier than I had anticipated.

I know you’re sitting there reading and re-reading the handbook the school provided to you. You’re dissecting it, making lists of things you think your child would be interested in and doing your due diligence. Here’s the deal - all of that is well and good and you should be doing it, but don’t be surprised when a school you thought was going to be “the” school turns out to be last on your list. That’s exactly what happened to us and several other families we know. In an effort to make this process a little less worrisome for you, here are some tips on getting through the middle school process (mostly) unscathed!

  • Do your research - Read the book. Know the statistics for the schools you’re looking at.
  • Tour EVERY school - I can’t stress this enough. You might think you “know” what your kid wants, but you don’t really. And they may surprise you. Make sure to take the tours WITH your child, it helps to be able to observe their reactions and share in the process.
  • Ask questions - prepare some before you attend a tour. Always have your child’s best interest at heart and don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you have! The schools want you to ask.They want you to make an informed decision. They want you to want to be there.
  • Talk about it - discuss it with your child. Pros, cons, likes, dislikes...all of it. Because remember this - you don’t have to go to school there, your child does. This decision should be their decision.
  • Rank your choices - pick 3 - 5 schools after you’ve had a look. Chances are, if you’re choosing a school within the district you’re coming from, you’ll get your first choice. I have yet to hear differently.
  • Relax - you have to wait 5 months from the time you apply to middle school to receive your acceptance. Should you have a change of heart along the way, there is a grace period upon receiving your letter to make adjustments.
  • Support your child - be their sounding board, start open ended conversations when it comes to the type of school they’re interested in. You might have a child that is drawn more toward the arts versus math and science - and that’s great! Let them tell you what they want and how they feel. Your job is to allow them to explore and guide them, not stifle them.
  • YOU WILL BE OKAY. It’s middle school - not the bar exam. Your child is still growing and will be for a while academically, socially and physically. Don’t add pressure where it doesn’t need to be.

CONGRATULATIONS!! You made it through the middle school application process!! So have a glass of wine and enjoy. It’s one more thing you can cross off your list...and just think, you don’t have to worry about high school until 7th grade. (keep drinking!!)

Wishing you a smooth application process and a great school year!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding this process, I’m happy to help!!  

And just so you have it, here’s the link to all of the school districts in NYC. http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/Middle/Resources/default.htm


And So It Goes...

My annual back to school post - it's FINALLY here!! We've had another amazing summer complete with friends and family. A lot of wonderful days full of sunshine, laughter, food and fun. Spoiled by the beauty of the lake and the country, we spent 10 weeks out of the city this summer. Ten weeks of having Will commute to us on the weekends, and that's the only drawback - not having him home every night to be with us. But after lots of consideration, him going back and forth from the city to the country in the summer is still the best deal for the kids. We bought that house so our kids could know what it's like to live in a rural environment. To be able to do as they please, have their independence, get on their bikes in the morning and come home in the evening, without a care in the world. That's what we had when we were kids and we are so fortunate to be able to give it to them. Our summers are filled with visitors and friends and it flies by, all but the last 2 weeks. It's at about the 8 week mark when I start to get antsy. I miss my city living, I miss having a routine and I miss school!! The last two weeks of summer are not easy! Camp is over, babysitters have gone back to school and so have our country friends. It's me and the boys trying to entertain one another - or really me trying to figure out how I can manage to keep them occupied for long enough that I can actually get some work done! They're complaining of boredom (impossible with all the stuff we have at our disposal at the lake), they're pushing each other's buttons (and mine!!), and they're trying to sneak screen time (that I'm sometimes allowing). By week 8 I'm DONE. We arrived back in Brooklyn on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. So far we've walked about 10 miles, gone to the playground three times, eaten at our favorite doughnut shop, pizza place and diner and bumped into various friends along the way. The entire time I've been reminding them how much longer they have until school starts! (as of this writing less than 12 hours!!). Here's my dilemma tonight people...for as excited as I am to have them back in school and getting back on a schedule, to have time to myself to focus on getting my stuff done and build my business, I'm freaking out inside because HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that the little one is going to be in elementary school and the big one is going into middle school? WHERE DID THE TIME GO? What happened to my sweet little boys? Wyatt is going to be traveling on mass transit ALL BY HIMSELF....oy, my nerves!! He's not even phased by it - unless he's putting up a really good front right now. I mean, he shouldn't be phased by it, the kid has been riding subways and buses since before he was born. He knows his way around, and I'm ridiculously proud of him. He's almost as tall as I am - I figure I have about a year and then I'll be looking up at him (sigh). And then there's Elias...the crazy one. The one who always has a smile on his face, even when he's throwing a tantrum (for no reason). The one who was just born it seems. The one who will also be taller than me in about five minutes. Tomorrow will mark yet another milestone for each of them and for as much as I've wanted this day to come, I want time to stop for just a little while longer.

That's the hazard of parenting - one minute you're wishing for the next thing to happen and the next minute you're willing it to stop. It's the very definition of bittersweet. My children are my life. They are the reason I get up in the morning and try so hard to make their world a better place. They are my sun and my moon. And sometimes I can't stand them. But most of the time they're the best things that ever happened to me. Tomorrow is another milestone for each of them, and I'll be there every step of the way, fighting back the tears as to not embarrass the big kid, trying so hard not to hug him for too long in front of his friends, keeping my words in check. It will be easier for the little one - I get to be in school with him on his first day (which will probably be a huge pain in my ass by 9am), but for now I'll pretend that it's going to be fun to be sitting in a classroom with a bunch of 4 year old's and their parents, on day one of Pre-K. (I'm laughing just writing this!!). So wish me luck you guys...Tomorrow is yet another first day of school for our NYC kiddos, and as per tradition, I'm wishing them all their best year yet!! And Happy First Day of School to you too,parents - is that a Bloody Mary I hear calling our names??