An educator friend wrote me this week and asked
"If you had parents in your office with a pre-teen son (4th grade) who was showing signs developing more rapidly than his peers into the teen years (hormones, growth spurt, disengaging from the learning process, overall apathy, etc.) and they asked if you could recommend a book/article that might help them understand what their son was going through, what would your response be?"
Here was my immediate response:
I read excerpts from a NYTimes Magazine article HOW TO; Be Popular by Deirdre Dolan to my middle school students every other year. It is insightful and paints the middle years well with a bottom line of "kids really do know what is good."
Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence by Laura Sessions Stepp Even if you don't read the entire book, go to your local bookstore, take it off the shelf, and read the introduction; it is excellent.
Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent's Guide to the New Teenager, Revised and Updated by Anthony E. Wolf. This is a classic. I remember having the author speak to my middle school parents and hitting a home run with them.
The Middle School Handbook from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is one of the best books about the middle school child. In it's second edition, authors Harry Finks and Mark Stanek detail all there is to know — well, almost all — about understanding these most tumultuous years in a human's life. For more information on this book, see my next post.