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Major Differences Between Elementary & Middle School

Elementary School
  • Students have one or two teachers that teach every subject.
  • Students typically stay in one or two classrooms all day long.
  • Students have recess.
  • Students attend P.E. in the clothes they wear to school.
  • Students have their own desk to keep their belongings.
  • Students have 30 or so minutes of homework each evening.
  • Most elementary schools don’t offer extracurricular activities after school.
  • Most elementary schools do not offer elective classes during the day.
  • Students walk with their classes and teacher in a line to move around the building.
  • School buildings are smaller with classrooms organized in groups or pods.
  • Students have limited independence and must be supervised by an adult at all times.
  • Students sit with their class in the cafeteria at lunch.
  • Fifth graders go to school with students who are younger and often smaller than they are.
  • Students receive specific guidance from teachers in school work.
Middle School
  • Students have as many as six or seven different teachers and classes.
  • Students change classrooms each hour to go to different classes.
  • There is no recess in middle school.
  • Students are required to change into P.E. clothes in locker rooms with their peers.
  • Students may be assigned a locker or be expected to carry their belongings with them.
  • Students have homework from each class, resulting in more homework.
  • Middle schools offer extracurricular activities including sports, clubs, choir, band, student council and many others.
  • Middle schools offer elective classes where students can study art, band, orchestra, choir, foreign languages, theater arts, and many more subjects.
  • Students will move on their own during passing periods when changing classes and going to lunch.
  • School buildings are larger with many classrooms organized in hallways by subject.
  • There are after school activities like pep rallies, dances, homework help, football games and clubs.
  • Students may be free to choose where they sit in the cafeteria at lunch.
  • First year middle school students go to school with older, often bigger students.
  • School work is more challenging and includes more homework and tests.
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