YOUNGER TEENS: AGES 12-ISH  TO 15-ISH

 

I have always enjoyed working with this age of kids. They have the ability to do a LOT and they also have a GOOD amount of 'kid' left in them. But this can be a trying time also. Puberty is not an easy time for kids, so having empathy for them during this time is incredibly important. 

I will have more resources and materials for you here - in the meantime I can recommend: 

1. Break the 4th wall of parenting and teaching. Teachers and parents DON'T know everything or how to handle everything - and kids this age already know this - but acknowledging this openly and having discussions about it is powerful. Not only are you modeling that it is OK to not have all the answers, you will gain genuine respect by admitting it. So, as you try educational materials and approaches, be open to their thoughts and ideas as well as admitting when things you thought would work AREN'T. 

2. Pay close attention to who their friends are. I DO believe kids of ANY age deserve privacy. I do NOT advocate for hyper-vigilance. However, these 'middle school' years can have an inordinately large effect on kids' trajectories. So please, get to know your kids' friends and their parents. TALK with your kids often about their friends. Have your house be the one where they and their friends hang out.  I know this doesn't sound like it relates directly to education: but of course you already know that interpersonal relationships ARE life...so I am guessing you are already doing these things! Please don’t underestimate how much you are benefiting your children by doing these seemingly simple things.  

3. Encourage their interests. I will forever and ever advise this for every age of kid. You will get more buy-in and effort along with a more pleasant experience for all involved by leveraging your kid's interest in whatever it is they are learning. This doesn't always come naturally to a parent because there seems to be a law that whatever is really interesting to the parent is NOT to their kid, and vice versa. As an example: I was a biology teacher, my kid refuses to dissect ANYTHING! What! AND, one of his interests is weapons of all kinds: tanks, swords, guns, real weapons, Nerf weapons, fictional weapons. Those things don't interest me, and I am actually uncomfortable with some of them because of the association with violence. But this is HIS education. So he took hunter's safety and chose to study history through the lens of weapons used in conflicts. (This topic also led to ongoing conversations about violence, guns, all sorts of related things. What a perfect opportunity! These deep and important discussions show me letting kids follow their interests creates amazing opportunities for their learning.)