The truth about adolescence is that it’s hard. It’s just hard. Think back to your own Middle School experience for a moment. My guess is that there were some awkward moments. Whether it was a first audition, getting picked near last in dodgeball, or asking/getting asked out… there are new and strange situations that happen while we are in Middle School. In Middle School, there are so many weird social status aspects to life. It’s also true that they are usually public and how things play out matters tremendously in the moment.
While Middle School is a strange experience, it’s also true that children are testing boundaries and learning a lot more about themselves each day in this window of development. This is when many students take on leadership roles for the first time, whether it’s earning the lead in the school play or being selected as the captain of the swim team. This is the first time in their lives when adults ask them what they are going to do in a situation, rather than simply tell them. The world is also asking these malleable, inexperienced adolescents to do things for which they may not be ready. To help them handle this new sense of responsibility and to ease the transition, my philosophy is that we need to keep talking to our kids and loving on our kids. We need to be aware of what they are morally capable of and allow them to test their skills. We also need to remember that if their attempts don’t go as planned, it doesn’t mean we’re a failure as a parent.
So if it’s true that it’s hard and they are exploring who they are.. what can we do? Helping them through this transition is important work that we can accomplish together by doing the following:
As a Middle School team, we are committed to partnering with you and helping to mold your children into the best people they can possibly be. Academics are important for future success, but we know that being a good person is the more critical component on the journey to happiness and success. As your partner, we invite you to reach out to us with open communication about any concerns you may have. Please don’t wait until May or let a small concern turn into a problem before reaching out via a phone call, a chat or an email. Together, we can make Middle School more rewarding for your children... and maybe even a little less hard.
Mark Engstrom is Episcopal’s Middle School Division Head. Prior to joining Episcopal he served as the Middle and Upper School Division Head at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. Mark is a Louisiana native and a graduate of Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans. Mark earned degrees from the University of Kentucky, the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts. He has extensive experience in blended learning and has led multiple professional development opportunities regarding blended learning. Mark has also published articles on personalizing student education. Mark particularly enjoys working with Middle School students as they transition from elementary school students to high school students. Mark is married to Nicole, Episcopal’s fifth grade science teacher. Their children, Alex and Emma, are Episcopal students.