Middle School - A down to Earth Version for Parents
School is a funny age and hard on parents. I will define it as 6-8 grade, even if some
schools do only 7-8 grade and others do 7-9 grade. My hands on experience was with two districts that had different age groupings, one is 6-8 grade and the other is 7-8 grade. The
good thing about this age is they still (usually) respect authority, even in
challenging schools. So I have found a structured environment works well
to get the students working. Peer pressure is huge. There are a lot
of self-confidence issues with students in middle school. They are very
unsure of themselves, even if they often don't show it by projecting a image of
not caring, being super tough, etc. This can be a lot more challenging of
students. Sexual awareness is definitely happening at this age. And
the kids are a lot more squirely at this age (hard to keep their
attention). Their bodies are going through a lot of changes. The
students are transitioning from being children to adults, and figuring out
their place in the world, sometimes very painfully. They are finding the limits
out there on what they are allowed to do, and not do.
My opinion is that
middle school should be 7-8, and 6 grade should stay at the elementary level
because of the emotion and physical development of the students. There is
usually, a huge difference in size and development between a six grader and an
eighth grader. What the students wear changes dramatically, and the
female students often start wearing clothes that are much more sexual in nature
(after I have seen what some
of the middle school students wear to school, yes, I do believe in school uniforms, especially ). With some students, I have
even seen piercings at this age.
Substitute teachers often a lot of tricks played on them in more challenging schools, with the students trying to work as little as
possible and get out of class as early as possible. Lot of lies
unfortunately. Lying is a behavior I did not see much in grades K-4 grade, but I see it a
lot more in 5-12 grade at more challenging schools. The stories I could tell :-)
Cognitive Changes - Middle School
body is going through significant changes in puberty as does the brain.
This has been shown in intelligence tests that vary between the age of
12-15. Piaget believed that puberty enables brain changes that enable
complex thinking to happen for some individuals. That they can understand
abstract meaning and principles. They can plan lengthier, complex
operations because they have achieved the adult stage of live.
Physical Changes - Middle School
Puberty starts usually about middle school. A series of
physical changes as the body becomes capable of reproduction. There are
some kids who do become pregnant in middle school. Females go through
this transition on average 1-2 years before males. The age of puberty has
been dropping due to better nutrition. The amount of time takes from 18
months to 6 years, and varies between people.
Social Changes - Middle School
The amount of time spent with friends increases
dramatically. They may spend more time with their friends than family or
by themselves. There is an increase in self-disclosure, intimacy, and
loyalty among friends. Peer pressure can be significant. Being
accepted can be very helpful for self-esteem (being popular). Those
students who are not popular can exhibit aggressive traits, low self-esteem,
Emotional Changes - Middle School
The need for acceptance becomes much greater among peers.
Students often confide information to teachers they would not usually.
Some children which were formally very easy to control and get them to do their
work, start challenging teachers. Not being accepted by peers can bring
major emotional problems. The students believe that nobody understands
them, except their peers. Some become very alienated from school.
Their are also challenging problems going on with the student parent
relationship. Where the student wants to be treated differently, and the
parent still sees them as a child. Peer pressure and group identity
become much more important. What I have noticed, is even rebellion
becomes a group thing. With students all dressing rebelliously in the
same way. Their is a lot more emotional conflict. Anger is a common
emotion at this age, and is much more intense than other emotions. This
is a very stressful age. Emotional disturbances are common.
Advice For Parents for Middle Schoolers
As written by Ray Ritchey
- Be patient and expect arguments. Kids love to practice their increased ability to think and argue.
- Set up a structure of expectations. This goes from clothes to grades.
- Spanking at this age no longer works and could have legal issues, so figure out a new way of discipline. Psychological works great as long as you keep your cool. Often, your child's goal is to make you lose your cool, so don't.
- Keep open communications. If you can, pick up your young adult from school so you get the inside scoop.
- If you school offers a parenting class, take it. My daughter's school did and it was well worth the time.
- My daughter's middle school Principal commented one of the most dangerous things was a broadband connection and a middle schooler. Put the computer they have access to in the middle of the living room.
- Be aware of privacy issues.
- Set up rules where Internet History is not erased. I suggest set up a password on the computer.
- Cell Phones - Does a middle School student really need one? My daughter has a different opinion on this matter than me.
- The family is not a democracy, so let your child know this.
- Always meet your child's teachers. Go to back to school night, no matter what your child says.
- When needed - schedule parent teacher conferences.