How Preschool and Middle School are *Basically* the Same

No one listens.  Ever.

Kids use the bathroom to get out of shit. Giving a boring test to middle schoolers?  Suddenly everyone has to go to the bathroom.  Put a bunch of preschoolers in timeout? Suddenly everyone has to go to potty.

Parents are weird.  No, I will not check your middle schooler’s backpack every day.  Yes, your preschooler must wear socks to school.

Their clothes.  Both preschoolers and middle schoolers have decided that they can express themselves in clothing, and as a result wear pretty odd things.  Pajamas are frequently worn by both groups, as are strange graphic tees about TV shows I’ve never heard of.

Kids get sent to the office when they don’t behave.  Heck, adults get sent to their boss’s office when they don’t behave.  It’s a timeless classic.

The drama.  The cat fights!  Oh, the dramatic cat fights! “I’m not your friend anymore” is the most scandalous thing a three year old can say to another three year old.  Instant tears.  The same insult is used when the kids are twelve, but their parents deal with the tears. Which leads me to my next point…

The insults. No, preschoolers don’t use cuss words the way the preteens do, but the sentiment is the same.  I’ve heard the words “You can’t come to my birthday party” in both a middle school classroom and a preschool playground.

The tantrums.  When a preschooler is mad, they wail and refuse to listen.  Middle school kids do the same, only the wailing is (usually) less loud and tear-free.

Naptime.  Even if it’s not sanctioned, you know those preteens are sleeping right after lunch.

The boys smell. Thirteen year old boys have not discovered deodorant and showering.  Preschool boys haven’t quite mastered the potty.

Teachers gossip about the kids.  And we gossip about the parents.  It’s how we stay sane.


I taught middle school for one glorious year (plus my time at University).  Currently, I teach preschool, and it cracks me up how similar the two groups are.  There are some pretty significant differences though.  For example:

Cuddling.  Preschoolers hug and kiss, sit in my lap, and cuddle until they literally fall asleep.  In middle school I held them at arm’s length and usually put a desk between me and them.

What I can wear.  When I taught middle school, I wore a skirt almost every day, I always wore make up, and usually heels (I’m 5’2″ and look like I’m sixteen, I need all the help I can get).  In preschool, it’s all about the leggings.  The one time I wore a scarf, they asked, “What’s that?  Why are you wearing that?”

The intellectual level. My favorite middle school unit was the Holocaust.  I loved discussing the impact of the Holocaust on the Jewish peoples through the poetic prose of Elie Weisel.  Last week with a preschooler, I pointed to the number 8 and he shouted, “That’s a B!” Quite a difference there…

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