Celebrating high school begins in middle school. Given opportunities to develop strengths and interests, the middle school years and their subsequent experiences set the stage for future decisions. Decisions move middle schoolers forward, or set them back.
Middle schoolers need coaches, cheerleaders, people to cheer them on, answer their questions, affirm their successes, and come alongside when ideas fail. Like adults, middle (and high schoolers) gravitate toward sources or encouragement and affirmation.
Our experience is that middle and high schoolers will hang out most with those who encourage and affirm them best.
Mike and I were (and still are with our current middle and high schoolers) intentional to champion their interests. As a result we were (are) invited into their successes and their messes!
Middle schoolers need help understanding themselves. Mike and I have learned that before we can help our middle and high school young adults understand themselves, we must know them! To know them, we must spend time with them (even when it's hard to be with them). Spending time means observing, listening, and asking. We watch how they respond in both stressful and rewarding circumstances. We observe what activities they enjoy and what makes them smile. Body language and verbal responses are windows into their hearts. What they read expresses their interests. Who our children talk about gives us understanding into the character they emulate or respect. Knowing our children takes diligence and purpose, but is deserving of my time and energy.
When we come to know our children--what motivates, intrigues, and captivates them--we can begin to help them understand themselves.
Middle schoolers want to make a difference. Middle schoolers need time and experiences to help them understand who the are and what they can contribute to the family, community, nation, and the world.
They need something to ponder, practice, and pursue; a way to make a difference.
Making a difference they feel the satisfaction of collaborating and contributing, serving and giving.
Middle schoolers need help managing their time.Several facets of life motivate middle and high schoolers to manage their time: knowing they have skills to solve a problems, having a project to complete or understanding their skills can contribute to a cause. When these aspects are discovered and fostered, managing their time matters.
Time management is a necessity for accomplishment.
Middle schoolers encouragement for organization.Middle schoolers are not usually naturally organized. They usually need parents to help them brainstorm ideas. They need someone to take them shopping for organizers.
Organization is often key to time management.
Middle schoolers need help finding and using resources. Middle schoolers have ideas and interests they want to pursue. There are things they want to build, books they want to write, businesses they want to start, logos they want to design, and fish they want to catch. Resources, tools, and significant people put those ideas and interests in motion. One of the greatest resources is time--time to process, time to think, time to talk through ideas. In and through conversation and experience, middle schoolers learn to plan, design, analyze, and evaluate, all which work together for understanding.
Without time, these key life skills cannot develop.
Middle and high school young adults are really not any different than adults.
Adults thrive when they understand their strengths and have the freedom to grow in those strengths, when they have people to help them process ideas and adults, when they have access o necessary tools and resources to carry out the plan, and when they are surrounded by supportive family and friends.
Middle schoolers will surprise you! Middle school years have great potential to directly impact a student's entrepreneurial ventures, employment, or college and career path by offering options of promising study. Be ready for your middle schoolers to surprise you! Ours have surprised us many times with their ideas and plans. They had solutions we had not discovered, insight we could not see. Theirs were not only better, but because they "owned" the plans, they were more excited and successful in executing the steps to reach their goals.
This content is excerpted from the new expanded edition of Cheryl's book, Celebrate High School: Finish with Excellence, A Guide for Middle and High School Home Education.