There are two critical developmental stages during middle school. One is emotional development, or the “people smarts” to read people, situations, and manage one’s own emotions. A recent study involving over 20,000 students from all walks of life, found students made significant academic improvement when involved in a school-based social and emotional learning program compared to those who were not.
The other stage is finding your passions and interests. When students don’t develop a strong sense of something they are good at by middle school, it’s harder for them to persevere when confronted with weaknesses. Students who identify their strengths and weaknesses at an early age have an easier time connecting their gifts and talents to future decisions, like what extracurricular high school activities to be involved in, which college to attend, and which career path to take.
Parents and teachers can expose middle schoolers to the high school environment in a variety of ways before their first day of freshman year. Show your students what’s happening in the community and inspire them to be active in high school by introducing them to the events and activities put on in your school district. The following is a list of some of the many events high schools host that middle school students can attend :
- Band/orchestra/choir concert
- Theater production
- Talent show
- Speech and debate tournament
- Sports events
- Mentor program
Giving students a sense of community and exposing them to all their choices can motivate them to take advantage of these choices they might not have ever known about. If you’d like to learn more about getting middle school students prepared for high school, LifeBound’s books PEOPLE SMARTS FOR TEENAGERS and GIFTS AND TALENTS FOR TEENAGERS can help students get the self-knowledge and self-management skills they need for a successful transition to high school and beyond.