Are you wasting the middle school years? Part 2

Uncategorized Nov 17, 2018

(Missed the beginning? Go here for part 1. )

Middle school years are for trying something new. If the current sport or activity of choice is ‘nice’ but she’s not an exceptional athlete, or not receiving music, dance, or artistic accolades, from authentic strangers, it might be time to consider alternatives, or at least ask if there is an entrepreneurial or volunteer opportunity in which this skill can be used during high school.

Here are some thoughts…

If your child has been in sports, try different sports during middle school to find the one he is most passionate about and has the most skill. Unless he’ll be MVP in all sports (and few athletes are) he’ll want to focus on one sport or become a little league coach or assistant coach.

If your child has been in Boy Scouts of America, is he loving it? Loving the awards? Do you see him attaining the rank of Eagle Scout before high school graduation? If so, then have a PLAN to ensure this happens. And it can’t be just YOUR plan. You must coordinate with his scout leader to be certain it happens. Because once your teen leaves high school the odds of continuing toward that goal are slim- college or real adult life becomes the priority. Talk with your scout leader and ask questions now.

Eagle Scout is one of very few awards that stays on his resume for a very long time. To most employers, it says a lot about your teen’s character.

If your child is talented in the visual or performance arts: Music, Dance, Painting, Crafts, etc… Does she have enough expertise to compete at the local or state level and win awards, and are those realistic opportunities where you live? Or can she teach classes or tutor younger students or adults, or sell crafts to earn money? or start a youtube channel from home, teaching others. I’m not saying that every 11 to 13 year old with the talent and passion for an activity can or should teach, or compete while in middle school, BUT if he or she is truly talented and passionate about it, then gaining additional expertise in middle school, and planning for this activity to be part of a small business or volunteer service during high school should be on your radar. (I took guitar lessons from age 12 and played for my church. By age 14, I was teaching private lessons in my home at $20 per hour, when the minimum wage was less than $5.)

The reason for this line of thinking is the concept of ‘too late’.

At the absolute latest, once your teen begins 10th grade, the trial and error phase should be over! This is the time to excel at a few distinct activities on the field, on the stage, in volunteer service, and be recognized for their ability to stick with something. This perseverance is noted by both employers, college admissions, and scholarship boards. The student who jumped around doing many things with mediocrity is not the employee they are looking for. In contrast, the student who finds their passion in early high school or sooner is sought after by universities and employers alike, because they see someone who is less likely to quit when things get a little difficult. In many cases, this student has been grooming themselves for a career in a field related to their passion-But that is certainly not the norm.

But why is this important? In addition to the characteristic of sticking with something, there’s another aspect you’re not seeing yet. And here it is: When your teen is preparing essays for college and scholarship applications in high school, he will be asked about their high school activities. Having participated 1 year each in 3 different sports, or on the dance team one year, student council one year, and cheerleader the next… will be a disadvantage rather than an advantage. And that’s just a small part of it. Sticking with an activity for several years offers an opportunity for personal growth, learning, teamwork, and leadership which is essential for those essays!

Don’t waste the middle school years! Get Ahead of the Class! Go here for part 3.

(Missed the beginning? Go here for part 1. )

Denise Thomas


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