Have you ever wondered GCC has so many special programs for our Middle School students? We have Launchpad, camps, pastoral care programs, Middle School Experience Day, fun days and much more.
We focus so much attention on our students in the ‘middle years’ because they need it. For all the parents out there with young children (who will one day be middle school students) and for those with children already aged between 11 and 14 years old, here are seven things you need to know.
1. Middle schoolers care more about what their peers think than pretty much anything else
This is a substantial change from children caring most about what their parents think and we should be prepared for it when it happens. It is part of the growing up process. Encourage good, healthy friendships and keep communication lines open.
2. Middle schoolers are horrified by what their bodies are doing
They have to deal with the onset of pimples, body odour, developing too slowly or too quickly and all the rest. Talk about what their bodies will go through before they reach this age to help prepare them and then ensure they have all they need to hygienically deal with what they are going through. Remind them it doesn’t last forever and they are not alone.
3. Middle schoolers love a bit of drama and tend to exaggerate
Don’t be alarmed if they scream and jump on the table if they spot a small spider in the corner of the room. The tendency to exaggerate is even more noticeable in friendship groups. There should be no surprise if the worst person in the world one day is their best friend the next. Try not to overreact and join their emotional extremes. Instead, respond in a calm way and try and keep a sense of humour.
4. Middle schoolers are mortified by public praise
This is a big adjustment for parents who are used to their primary aged children lapping up public admiration and limelight. Don’t stop praising your middle schooler but keep it low key and in family moments rather than in front of their friends or in large groups.
5. Middle schoolers can’t be trusted with confidences
This sounds awful but it is just part of what they are going through. Young adolescents are emerging from being the centre of their own childish universe to becoming aware that other people see the world differently. They become curious about the adults around them but haven’t yet learned the restraint that comes with maturity and want to share what they have learned. Even though your middle schooler may be looking and acting more like an adult every week, they aren’t there yet.
6. Middle schoolers begin to pull away from their parents
Just as they care more about what their friends think than their parents (point 1) they will also want to be with their friends more than their families. This is normal and all you can do is encourage healthy friendships. Make their friends welcome in your home and offer to host gatherings. This way you can earn ‘brownie points’ with your child and at the same time, you learn more about their friends and what your child is like when they are with them.
7. Middle schoolers are often still children
One minute you may be enjoying in-depth conversations with them and the next they are making rude noises with their armpits. Expect it, prepare for it and be patient.
The ages of 11 to 14 are difficult for our children and we need to do everything we can to help them successfully navigate them.
Mike Curtis, Principal