Six years ago, I asked my close friend Kim Lin some advice on Middle School and she said“don’t blink, it goes by fast”. She was right. I can’t believe that my youngest child is graduating from Jordan! Middle School students go through so many physical and emotional changes in those 3 years that it’s hard to keep up with them.
I have learned a lot in my time at Jordan and since this is my final newsletter I felt I should take this opportunity to pass on some thoughts about being a parent of a middle schooler. In spite of their rapid growth and their ability to change physically almost overnight, they are still kids and they need you. Be there for them, listen to them and be careful not to judge what they say. They will challenge you and that’s okay. Trust them and love them.Middle School is the perfect time for kids to explore their lives and expand their world. Your cute little elementary school child who diligently brought home the weekly envelope from the teacher and never missed an assignment, will suddenly forget to bring home notes and will forget to turn in homework. Be patient and cut them some slack. It’s normal for them to do this at this age.
Support them when they fail. I have seen too many children in this district who were brought up to believe that failure is not an option and anything less than perfection is not acceptable. This is an unreasonable expectation. Failure is a part of life and the sooner they learn that, the better off they will be. Speaking of homework and grades… relax. Getting a C in math in 7th grade is not going to keep your child out of Harvard. Kids not only learn by making mistakes, they become more resilient which will serve them well as they learn to navigate the pitfalls in life. Try to not become obsessive about checking grades on Infinite Campus; it will frustrate you and will stress out your student.When I was growing up in Palo Alto, my parents would send me outside to play and tell me to come home when the streetlights came on. That sense of freedom and being able to do what I wanted are some of my favorite childhood memories. The best piece of advice I can offer you is to just slow down and enjoy your kids. Let them have downtime.
Filling every waking hour with teachable moments just wears them down. Let them sleep in, read, hang out with their friends. Let them do what they want. Their play is their work and some unstructured time is vital to them discovering who they may want to become in the future.
Have a nice summer.
PTA President (2012-2013)