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Misunderstood middle schoolers?

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, August 20th, 2010 at 10:09 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Parenting, Theresa Harrington.

By Theresa Harrington

As a new school year begins, many parents are sending their children off to middle school, where students grow from kids into young teens.

For some parents, this can be a scary time, as they struggle to let their children express independence, while still providing much-needed guidance.

Like many campuses, Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill tries to put the minds of parents and students at ease by offering a 6th grade “camp” that includes an orientation for both. The school also gives parents written material about what to expect at the school.

The handouts include two very insightful pieces — written by former middle schoolers — that help unlock the mysteries of these sometimes tumultuous, yet often exciting years.

One is a poem and the other is a list explaining what middle schoolers want from their parents. As a mom and a journalist who receives lots of press releases offering “back to school” advice from adults, I found these words from middle schoolers to be refreshing and poignant, so I got permission from Sequoia to share them with you.

“What is a Middle Schooler?
By an anonymous middle school student

What is a middle schooler,
I was asked one day?
I knew what he was,
But what should I say?

He is noise and confusion.
He is silence that is deep.
He is sunshine and laughter.
Or a cloud that will weep.

He is swift as an arrow.
He is a waster of time.
He wants to be rich.
But cannot save a dime.

He is rude and nasty.
He is polite as can be.
He wants parental guidance.
But fights to be free.

He is aggressive and bossy.
He is timid and shy.
He knows all the answers.
But still will ask ‘why?’

He is awkward and clumsy.
He is graceful and poised.
He is ever changing,
But do not be annoyed.

What is a middle schooler,
I was asked one day?
He is the future unfolding,
So do not stand in his way.”

“What Kids Want From Parents

(Information developed by 8th grade girls at Sequoia, Valley View and Pleasant Hill middle schools during the 2001 school year. This list represents a student’s view on best parenting practices and was developed with the help of Decky Thornton, Juvenile Specialist with the Pleasant Hill Police.)

1. We want love and acceptance.

2. We need and want guidelines.

3. We need and want safety and security.

4. Give reasonable consequences for mistakes that we make.

5. Respect our privacy.

6. Don’t say one thing and do another.

7. Respect us.

8. Be fun, but still be a parent.

9. Set a good example.

10. Respect our intelligence and wisdom.

11. Listen to our opinions.

12. Lead us down the right path. If we go down the wrong one, show us the way back.

13. We need trust.

14. Don’t yell and scream. It only makes things worse.

15. Be flexible.

16. Recognize our accomplishments.

17. Respect our emotions.

18. Don’t keep bringing up our mistakes from the past.”

Unfortunately, these years can be very painful for some children, especially if they are bullied or abused. Some — who don’t feel loved, supported and protected — may resort to running away from home or even suicide.

The Mt. Diablo school district is working with administrators to create “school climates” where students feel safe and motivated to learn.

Are you satisfied with the school climate on your child’s campus?

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  • Annette Stevenson

    I am concerned about the lack of crossing guards at schools. Teachers cannot do crossing duty due to liability issues put forth by their union and now parents are being told they cannot do crossing due to liability. Why isn’t child safety a number one issue?