The Importance of the Middle School Years

Photo by  Jonny McLaren  on  Unsplash

We all have memories of middle school - the excitement, the transition, the challenges. Middle school is just that - in the middle. Our kids are caught between the fun and playful elementary years and adolescence, where they develop into their own independent adult selves. It seems like there are headlines left and right about cutting back on recess, the need for more critical thinking in curriculum, and the push for a later start time for school so kids can get more sleep.

So knowing we already need to find the balance between play, academics and sleep, we also find ourselves navigating new territory (both kids and parents) with regard to relationships, emotions, and responsibility.

So much happens in the middle school years - how can parents support the growth and development? How can we nurture the fun and exploration as we watch our little cherubs emerge into independent adults?

On our most recent episode of Parenting Beyond the Headlines we spoke with Teri Schrader, Head of School at Watkinson School, about the importance of these years. Listen to the full podcast to get a sense of what it is to live in the culture of middle school, the issues they face, and the opportunities the experience offers.

When to Let Them Fail

When to Let Them Fail

I can see the scene in my memory as though I am still staring out the window. My then 8-year old son was waiting for the school bus in a torrential downpour. With a bit of guilt, I thought to myself, “He can handle waiting in the rain - no big deal, he needs to develop some grit,” Of course I was watching from a dry bedroom window. He crossed the street to the bus and a paper bag he was carrying ripped open, dumping the contents in the middle of the wet road. Without thinking I ran out and helped him scoop everything up, kissed him quickly, and sent him on his way. But of course, then I was soaked, my feet were freezing, and I felt a bit odd standing in my bathrobe in the middle of the street of my brand new neighborhood. That said, I helped my little boy. But I thought, should I have let him figure it out on his own and develop some resourcefulness?

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Practicing What I Preach

Practicing What I Preach

I was out for a run in our new neighborhood and saw a pond that was frozen over. It appeared it had been skated on and I was excited by the possibility of having a recreational ice skating park so close to the house that the kids could go to. I shared this discovery with my daughter when she came home from school before I had the chance to weigh out the possible dangers:

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