Looking for some excellent back to school reading? Pick up a copy of Middle School Matters by Phyllis Fagell. I follow Phyllis on Twitter and had pre-ordered this book as soon as she began tweeting about it. It arrived last week and I have been eagerly reading every word between doing camp laundry, buying school supplies, and driving my daughter to pre-season sports. Despite this book being about Middle Schoolers, I am finding so many gems for a much wider range of kids, from the upper elementary ages to new high schoolers. As a mom of an incoming Middle Schooler and High Schooler this year, and a psychologist who works with kids, I am highlighting like mad!
Here are some gems so far -
-"on different days, the same kid may present as thirteen going on thirty or thirteen going on three."
-because of the underdeveloped prefrontal and frontal cortices of teens, smart kids can do stupid things. We should expect mistakes - some pretty frightful! Turn these into teachable moments rather than "life sentences".
-Friendships change immensely over the course of middle school. One study actually showed that only 1% of friendships formed in 7th grade were still intact by 12th grade! As parents, we need to expect this, understand that it is part of growing, and not catastrophize these changes (e.g., assuming a tough social period in 7th grade will mean lifelong social disaster).
-Help kids find activities that interest them, that introduce them to kids with shared interests, and that play to their strengths. I.M.O., this is a very different approach from picking activities that will help kids get into an Ivy League school! Fagell writes, "When children are young, they find friends based on proximity. As they get older, they find friends based on similarity. This transition is one of the fundamental challenges of middle school..."
So much more to share! But really, buy this book and read it for yourself. It's super!
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I am a licensed psychologist working with kids, teens, and adults with anxiety disorders.