An article with the same title is posted in the usual spot to the right. I have heard the experts talk (and write) about the developmental difficulties that go along with being a young adolescent. While I believe they are right, what about the job of parenting a young adolescent? Not exactly a walk in the park. We always love them, but don't always like the way they behave or treat us. Below I'll summarize the key points this article makes to help those of us that are smack dab in the middle school roller-coaster with our kids.
1. Have a candid conversation with your child about expectations for the year and what works and does not work for their success.
Be frank with your child about your expectations for them. After all, if they don't know the target, they can't hit it. Inquire about their expectations for themselves. Goal setting can be an off shoot of this conversation. Setting reasonable, achievable and measurable goals is a life long skill that they are quite capable of completing successfully. Revisit these goals often!
2. Talk to your child every day!
I know that sometimes they don't seem to listen. I know that sometimes they seem like they don't want to talk. However, they are listening and they do want you to start conversations about what is going on in their lives.
3. Contact school regularly (phone, email, visit web sites).
It is very important to keep in touch with school regularly. Don't wait for a call if things aren't going well. As mentioned above, there are numerous communication avenues. Phone calls, emails, interaction through our website and the good old-fashioned conference. Sometimes just knowing that you are in regular contact with school helps students. Infinite Campus (IC) is a crucial element to tracking your child's progress. 24/7 access to grades and assignments is the ultimate in convenience. Please contact school if you are having trouble accessing IC.
4. Encourage involvement in non-academic activities.
There are many non-academic pursuits out there, some related to school, some not. Students' spend many hours and brain cells on their academic tasks each day. It can be beneficial to have opportunities for exercise and social interactions outside of the school day. Athletics, Drama, Rec Club, my son has recently taken up archery. It has had a calming effect on him. Often these pursuits cause cognitive challenges that can enhance their learning in school.
5. Let them explore independence (safely).
'Tis the age for seeking independence. It is a delicate balance between holding them back and letting them go. Too much on either end can lead to difficulties. Every child is different and needs different boundaries from their parents. This is an area where the conversation is really important, as is reflection. Parents don't always get it right, but don't stop asking questions and reflecting upon your parental decisions.
I hope this entry did not come across too much like an advice column. My intent was to combine some research with life experience, both as a parent of an 8th grader and as someone who has spent a few years working with this age group. Feedback welcome!