There’s no denying that middle school is a difficult time in kids’ lives. I remember my middle school years (actually junior high years - we didn't have middle school in our district back then:-) and while they say the teen years are the worst, my tween years felt like the worst instead.
I see students struggling through so many transitions. It’s up to us as teachers and as parents to better understand the problems facing middle school kids today, so we can help.
Most bullying happens, or at least starts, in middle school. In fact, at least 25% of students in the U.S. say they’ve been a victim of bullying. I remember bullying growing up, but it’s become a much worse issue today. When students are having to constantly deal with bullying in school and online, it makes it difficult for them to concentrate or even care about coming to school. Sadly, the solution isn’t clear, but we just have to be there to help build students’ confidence and prevent bullying whenever we can.
2. Varying Growth Rates
Middle school is that incredibly awkward time, as I’m sure many of you remember. I know none of my friends ever seemed to be on the same page when it came to physical growth, maturity, emotions and all the other changes puberty brings. Adolescence is a time for change, but all those hormones create issues. While it’s not a new issue, today’s middle school students seem to have more self-esteem issues than ever before; every change affects their confidence, which affects their learning experience.
3. Finding The Value In Education
With all the hormonal issues, bullying and even problems at home, sometimes middle school kids don’t think education is important. They tend to find the worst role models, such as athletes who dropped out of school or the latest pop stars. I remember thinking I already knew everything at that age, but when today’s kids find everything online, they honestly don’t think school’s important at all.
4. Relying Too Much On Technology
With that thought, I love technology, but today’s middle school kids use it as a crutch. They rely on it to the point that they’re distracted and would rather just look for an easy answer instead of learning how to do something. It’s also part of the reason I like to use engaging games to get them learning while having fun.
5. Finding Balance
Of course, middle school kids have more pressure on them today to join clubs, play sports, volunteer and do well academically to start preparing for college. This is on top of a growing social life and finding the balance between kid and a teen. It’s not always easy, but luckily, we can help guide them to find better balance.