MIDDLE SCHOOL, TIME OF HORMONAL TURMOIL AND SWITCHING CLASSES
JUNIOR HIGH IS WHEN MOST FUTURE DROPOUTS FALL OFF THE TRACK
- Notice and comment. Praise goes a long way in those years when self-confidence is so scarce. Tweens crave attention and yet assume everyone’s watching, translating silence to mean you did not like it.
- Be there. Sharing time doing a chore or project gives a chance to interact without the focus being on them – until they want it to be about them. But even just everyday positive constants give reassuring structure.
- Add positive activities. Volunteering gives a sense of being needed; tutoring or babysitting makes them a role model. Both solidify that shaky self-confidence and sense of having grown, says the foundation.
- "Snip the snark,” as Grayson puts it, adding that tween egos are fragile. “They’ll laugh it off now, and then dwell on it for weeks. Weigh your words carefully,” she advises.
- Give them time. These are the inconsistent, distracted, disorganized years. Take time to laugh and have fun with them, Grayson says, “Be the oasis.”
· Beth Morrow is a veteran middle school ESL/LA/reading educator, freelancer and columnist.