Most parents consider Middle School or Junior High as a ‘pass-through’ between grade school and high school. Sure, your child has a little maturing to do. But is that all there is? Should we allow them to continue, as usual, doing the typical after-school activities and playing with friends? …Not necessarily.
Those years between elementary school and high school have a purpose. From kindergarten through 5th grade, your child has mostly been playing with friends on the schoolyard and after school. Maybe she’s had opportunities like taking ballet, or music lessons or participating in community sports. That’s great! But now is the time to find what she is really passionate about, and not just continue the same old activities ‘just because we always have.’
You have 3 years, 6th, 7th and 8th grade, including summers, to offer opportunities for your child to explore NEW ideas and new activities. After my son’s 4th week-long summer camp one summer, he asked, ‘Mom, why am I going to so many camps?’ My response, ‘Because my job is to give you opportunities. Your job is to find your passion!’
Now, before I get too far into this, you must understand my motivation for revealing this to you. You see, my goal for your children is ‘free college’. And free college doesn’t come to most teens who have no plan or no direction. And because all of high school becomes important for winning scholarships and gaining college admissions it makes sense to consider what comes before high school. Because if your child doesn’t have a direction (focus or passion) of some kind by high school sophomore year he or she will be at a great disadvantage when it comes to filling out college and scholarship applications.
Camp and summer activities do not have to be expensive, and some ideas don’t have to cost anything but your time. And not everything has to occur outside the home.
First, evaluate your child’s current after-school and summer activities. Consider in school and church activities as well. Make a list. What is he doing? How long has he been doing it? And most important (a) Is he having fun? and (b) What might this activity do for his future?
Here’s what I mean by this.
Ballet: Does your child really have the talent, body type, and the passion to become a prima ballerina? If not, ask this question- For high school - does she love it enough, and is she good enough, to be a teachers assistant? To put together a small group of ballerina friends and perform at birthday parties as a small business? Or perform at public events? Or to compete?
Sports: Does he have the talent and passion to possibly play college sports and maybe get an athletic scholarship. Is he consistently MVP? Is the coach always asking him to be a leader? Or is he more often sitting on the bench? I know. You’re saying, ‘How will I know at age 11 if he’ll be good enough for athletic scholarships in 5 years?’ Really? If you have to ask that question, then the answer is, ‘No. He’s not that good.’ (Sorry to break it to you, but this is the hard truth.) It’s rare for a scholarship quality athlete to have not been exceptional at the sport prior to entering high school.
I’m being honest here. There’s just so many hours in a day and by the time high school comes along, parents (and teens) need to have had a reality check before it’s too late. (Keep reading to find out what ‘too late’ means.)
But HERE IS THE exception: ADHD (attention different, not attention deficit)
Don’t waste the middle school years! Get Ahead of the Class! Go here for part 2.