Why does it seem that middle school can be such a difficult time for some students? The easy (yet still correct) answer is our sinful nature, and that often manifests itself in the way we treat others. Aside from sin, I wanted to form my own opinion on this, so I did a little research on the topic. While many articles had interesting information, I found the “Characteristics of Middle Schooler” by Julanda Howe helpful. I will try to summarize my findings in a question and answer format.
Is middle school still challenging at a private school?
The short answer is yes. Our students, like everyone, are sinful. The difference is in two key areas. First, we hope the instruction and love given in our elementary grades forms a solid foundation for middle school growth. It is our hope that students have learned and continue to learn to find their value in Christ. The world tells us to put value in so many other places (friends, things, popularity), but our goal is to keep Christ at the center. Second, even if problems arise, we not only have a discipline system in place, but we can work with the students to find the root of the problem. Obviously there is an academic development in middle school, but we also want to foster spiritual and emotional growth as well. We use a biblical framework to help teach that there are consequences to our actions, but also that there is love and grace in Christ.
Why can middle school be difficult?
There are many reasons given by many different people, but some of the most common include that kids that age are are establishing their own identity, want to be accepted, seek peer approval, can be emotional, and the many physical changes that occur at that age (and challenges those come with). The problems arise when all the students are going through these changes in different ways and at the same time. They all want the same things (love and acceptance), but are still learning how to provide those things for others.
Howe notes that students “tend to move away from families and teachers toward their own peer group.” It is vital for parents and teachers to know this and not be discouraged when that happens. Both still play an important role in the life of teenagers, even if it does not seem like it.
What do our teachers do?
Build real relationships with students. Teachers know them as individuals in order to be a positive influence and role model.
Provide consistency and clarity in instruction and rules. Make sure students know exactly what is expected.
Model Christ with their actions. Students will notice the way teachers treat not only other students, but also one another.
Communicate with parents to ensure they are working together to support the many needs different students have.
Pray and have lots patience!
If you want more insight, just send an email to on of our many amazing teachers!
What can parents do?
Model Christ with their actions. Your kids will notice the way you treat them, each other, and other people.
Listen to them. It may not be often they share, but when they do, try to hear their perspective.
Communicate with teachers. Make sure you are working with your child’s teachers to support their learning and growth at school.
Encourage them to show love to others. The only thing they can control is their actions. Help them model Christ in how they treat peers (this is easy to say, but can be very hard to do).
Pray for your kids, their classmates, and teachers.
Have lots patience.
These are just a few simple thoughts on a topic many people have different opinions on. By no means do I want to over-simplify or generalize, but just want to provide some insight and encouragement! As a parent, if you remember nothing else, please communicate with teachers. When you work together with your child’s teacher (even in the hard times), that is helpful for your children.
We are blessed by our middle school teachers and middle school parents as they work to help our students find their true identity in Christ!
Check out the link below for more details or do your own research to find out more!