Miscellaneous, But Informative


Okay…you’re LIVING the middle school experience along side of your kid. And, because of that, this book is for you! Just what is he doing all day? The facts are here…the realistic middle school descriptions written into this book just for you, the parents. As you read this book, you’ll feel like you are standing right there in the hallways of your child’s school. What is it like to be your daughter in middle school? How does she make it from class to class? The sights, sounds, AND smells are here awaiting your eyes to read…and experience.

After teaching middle school for 10 years, 14-time author, Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale brings the honest, no-holding-back truth of what it is like to be a middle schooler and a middle school teacher in today’s schools. This perspective gained will assist you to be the best middle school parent ever. With knowledge of what the experience is, you can be more understanding and supportive.

What does your middle schooler need after school? How to handle homework blues? What is personality experimentation and what are the benefits? What is the best approach when you catch your middle schooler lying? What options do you have when you find yourself in the principal’s office staring at another student’s parents over a classroom dispute? What is middle school common sense? What is the best way for you to speak about your child’s school to your friends, family, and your child? How can you guard your child from the barrage of requests to know his or her grades? What can you do about your child’s shortcomings? These questions and more are answered in this interactive book, which is packed full of useful information and strategies written by veteran educator and former middle school mom, Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale.



This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.



All communication styles change with different situations and places. For example, foul language, degrading content, or yelling is not tolerated at the school setting. Grocery stores, libraries, churches, movie theaters, banks, tennis matches, golf tournaments, or football playoffs all have different expectations and allowances of communication. Schools expect polite, low-toned, and respectful communication. This needs to be understood and demonstrated in schools, thus, the importance of finding ways that allow for student communication with some stronger emotions at home.


“I want to have communication with my child, but at times it is hard. Sometimes, I am at a loss for words. Sometimes my child acts so bizarre that I don’t know what to say!”


It must be stated here to be positive and steady. Remember, you are the one not on the middle school roller coaster. Your hormones are relatively stable as compared to a middle schooler. Keep asking about your child’s day, about friends, about homework and upcoming projects, and about future plans such as what would be a good weekend activity.


Can you embrace the bizarre? It’s middle school so ask what weird things happened during the day because weird things are always happening in middle school. Ask if anyone farted, vomited, put markers, erasers, or pencils up their noses, threw gum and missed the trash can, or fell asleep during classes.


Inquire about what your child ate for lunch, who spilled their food today, who made a greenish solution from all the leftover food and drink on the food tray, and who threw a grape tomato at someone. Find out who drooled on their desks, who skipped down the hall singing “Jingle Bells,” and what boy had 15 ponytails in his hair by the end of the day. (Yes, I’ve seen all of these!)


Probe if there was a fire drill today, who drew what on their hands and arms for middle schoolers view skin the same as paper, who did cartwheels down the hallway, and who supposedly kissed whom. All these things create the magic of middle school. It really is a wonderful, awesome, successful, and thrilling place!





This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.



Even though it’s important, many parents struggle with communication with their middle schooler.


“Everything seemed to change when my daughter entered sixth grade. It began at the end of her fifth grade year. I kept trying to talk with her, but she was shying away from me. She wasn’t sharing as much with me. It nearly broke my heart.”


I get it. It’s a strange phase. Middle school can be strange. It is logical, then, that talking to a middle schooler could be strange, too. Talking face to face is the number one and best way to communicate, but it may not always go well. Some situations do warrant other methods of communication. If you have talked and talked, then more talking will not be best perhaps. A unique diversion could do the trick. I have heard stories about one day all is fine, and the next day parents really do not know who or what is in the same place as their son or daughter’s skin, but it is not their child. Overnight, their precious off-spring feels alien. If talking becomes difficult or you would just like additional ways to communicate with your child, here are some alternatives. Of course, if communication becomes a really big issue, then professional help is advised.


  1. Miscellaneous Communications

Send an e-mail. Mail a letter to school for the child to be received at school. Mail a letter to where your child is ie: ex-spouse’s house, camp, or friend’s house. Put sticky notes on the mirror to be receive in the AM or after school or after practice. Place notes in the lunch bag, on your child’s agenda, or in a sports bag. Leave voice mail messages on the home phone to be received after school or on cell phone.


  1. Non-verbal Communication

Additionally, non-verbal communication can be quite useful in this situation – try using sign language. For example, use the time out referee hand signal to indicate a time out, a stoppage, or a calm is needed. This can be especially useful if there is heated communication. Using the raised pointer finger as the one moment sign is useful for when you need to pause to think. Using the palm up sign to indicate a time out, a stoppage, or a calm is needed will be understood by all. Using the thumbs up indicates approval. The peace sign, two fingers up, can show agreement. Have fun creating your own special family hand signals.


  1. Silent Conversation

Silent conversation is not only effective, but fun. Whatever you want to say is written down on paper and each person takes a turn writing something in response to the previous writing. One piece of paper, or a notebook, is used which is shared and pushed back and forth between you and your teen. Absolutely nothing is said. Everythingis written. Even laughter is written in the form of “Ha ha” or a drawn laughing face. This slows down the conversation, provides think time, and decelerates reaction time. It gives each person a chance to truly think what the other is communicating.


  1. Venting Permission

Give your child the gift of a venting session every now and then. With prior knowledge and at an arranged time, your child is allowed to vent and to say anything for about five minutes. With your parental broader view of life and understanding, you know how healthy this is, and by allowing such a communication without judgment, you are truly giving a gift to your child. Is there any speech that is off limits to you and your family such as cursing? Can this be allowed during this time? If not, do you realize the benefit of allowing no restrictions for this venting session? You will truly hear just how upset your child is if there are no restrictions.


This communication technique gives your child the opportunity to get it all out. Using the anger pillow mentioned in my first book as prescribed by your family’s set of parameters might greatly assist with this session, too. Your child will be in a better state to communicate and to be a receptive listener if the emotional explosion – an emotional release of resistance – is allowed.


Whenyougive the permission for the emotional explosion to occur, then you give yourself the gift of time to prepare for it. If it happens without your knowing or permission, you are caught off-guard. You might be thrown off by it and react negatively yourself. Everyone needs a proper time and place to blow some steam. Your middle schooler is an up-and-coming adult who is on a roller coaster with hormones raging through the body. Who could need this communication strategy more? Just about every middle schooler! Of course, this technique would then be followed up with listing many options to improve whatever brought on the need for venting.


For communication suggestions 5-10, read Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.



This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences. 


Dr. Wayne Dyer, a guru in the area of self-development, used a boat metaphor to share the freeing understanding of how to let go of the past. It goes something like this: You are the only one in a motor boat going somewhere. It’s your boat; not anyone else’s boat. It’s not your mother’s boat. It’s not your father’s boat. It’s not your sibling’s boat. It’s not your friend’s boat. It’s not the teacher’s boat. It’s your boat. The boat represents you and your life. The question is, “Where are you in your boat?”


Many people stand at the back of the boat looking at where the boat has been. They stare at the wake, the V shaped ripples the motor creates. They ponder what has happened. They ponder what would have happened if they had gone down a different stream, creek, or river. They sometimes feel regret for not having taken those paths and get stuck thinking about the choices they didn’t make.


When people are standing at the back of the boat looking at the wake and what has already happened, the question then to ask is, “Who is driving the boat?” Can a person be at the back of the boat and the front at the same time? No. The metaphor is to get people to move from the back to the front of the boat to drive their boats. Where do you want your life to go from here? Where does your middle schooler want to go from here?


I love this boat metaphor about life discussed by Dr. Wayne Dyer. One year in my classroom, I had a picture of a boat with a person on the back looking at the wake. I wrote on the poster, “Who is driving the boat? Stop looking at the past and drive your boat!” Get a picture of a boat or get a boat miniature and give it to your child as you share Dr. Dyer’s boat metaphor.What a wonderful gift to give your child. What a wonderful gift to give yourself.





This is an excerpt from Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences. 


You will get to know your child so much more when you surround yourself or familiarize yourself with your child’s peers. First, it is lots of fun. The children of this age are so excited to be experiencing the new life offerings that come with this age that their excitement level is contagious. It reminds you, the parent, of how wonderful it felt to be this age. Have a bunch of your child’s friends over one night and you will quickly reminisce back to your middle school days, hopefully, with grand memories. 


Their excitement becomes your excitement! Play games with them. Challenge your child’s friends to a competition of fooseball. Dare them to find you while playing flashlight tag. Show them you still have what it takes to play football. Impress them with your kickball abilities. Plan a scavenger hunt. Have the kids create snacks in your kitchen. Conduct a beauty event. Enjoy this time with them. 


Surround your child with friends who have like-minded parents. This is when the other parents parent their children with the same boundaries as you parent. Are they raising their child in the same healthy manner as you are? You will quickly know these things after a few conversations with the friend and the parents. Get to know the parents of your child’s friends well. 


Discuss with your child if you do have concerns about some friends. I have found that when I had that funny gut feeling about one of my child’s friends, my daughter was having the same feeling. When we talked about it, the feeling was brought to the forefront for her. I encouraged my daughter to listen to those feelings thus helping her to bring those gut reactions to hermain focus. This is exactly what we want for our child, right? We want them to be independent thinkers and focusers about their lives. We want them to recognize and listen to their individual Truths rather than parents dictating it all.


Be the parent who has the house where all your child’s friends hang out. This means purchasing cool toys such as video games, basketball hoop, baseball equipment, volleyball net, big screen TV, TV games, make up, spa items such as a water foot massager, and so forth. This means you create a really cool place for middle school kids to hang out. Perhaps, this means you build a tree house. Perhaps, this means you have a zip line in your backyard. Perhaps, this means you provide your child with a teen-decorated bedroom. This definitely means you are on first name basis with the pizza delivery person, too.


It is the best way to keep a loving and watchful eye on your child. You oversee who enters your home. You oversee the activities. Engage the friends in conversation. Don’t just have them over. Talk to them. Get to know them. Maintain the communication with your child’s friends throughout the years. The monetary, time, and social investment in your child’s friends is well worth the peace that comes from knowing where your child is and knowing his or her friends.




The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.


Positive, loving boundaries. Despite what you hear and experience from your child, kids at this age want to know the boundaries still exist for them because they like to “bounce” off or test those boundaries. The bouncing off and testing are not necessarily negative. This is their way of making sure you are still there for them.


For example, the boundary is to be home on the weekdays by 9:30 pm because everyone in the house would like a decent night’s sleep. “You’re in middle school not high school,” you explain. You may add that as he gets older the time may change, but for now it is 9:30 pm. You may be questioned every time before your middle schooler goes out of the house with friends. You may get lots of huffing and puffing. You make get eye rolling. You may get, “But Daaaadd!!” You may get an adolescent’s attempt to explain why the time needs to be later.


And…you may experience him coming in a few minutes late. You may encounter your child sneaking in at 10:00 or later. Oh my! What are you going to do now? Well, you have options! Consider what is the best for your child? What is the best for your family? Certainly, an option is to get mad and threaten or deliver an unwanted consequence. How does this feel to you? Another option is to let it slide and sorta joke about coming in later than the expectation. How does this feel to you? 


Another possible option is to discuss with your child what happened that he did not come back to the house at the designated time. Ask questions about the evening. Ask about the established and expected time of arrival back and why it didn’t happen. Through the discussion you can obtain ideas from your child what to do with this situation. Many times it is the child who will suggest taking a break from going out till he feels he can come back at the established time. Other times, it will be you, the parent, who will need to establish a new expectation of staying with the family till he can understand the reasoning behind the established time of return to the family, which is a natural consequence to coming in late. Either way, it is important that the boundary of the established time to be back with the family unit is honored by you and by him. Why? Comfort. It is comforting to have a boundary for your child.


You may respond with: “It is comforting? That is not how my child reacts! There is nothing that says to me that my child needs this comfort nor appreciates the comfort of the established curfew. It is usually a difficult, near-daily, miserable conversation for me.”


Yes, it might not seem like students are comforted. You may get the excuses, the eye rolling, and the huffing and puffing all over again. But, zoom fifteen years into the future and your child, now in his late twenties, will remember that you were there and provided the boundary for her safe keeping. You might even get a, “Thanks, Mom.”


Look at the opposite situation. A parent says to return home on weekdays at 9:30 pm. The child already knows that she can return whenever because the parent does not really pay attention to what the child does or requires the expectations to be adhered. She returns past the 9:30 pm time. Nothing is said. Maybe the parents are already asleep, thus there is no way to check when the child came home. The child feels lost. “Doesn’t anyone care that I got home late?” The child goes through this adolescent time wavering and fluctuating wildly not really sure how to act in life’s situations. “Where is the boundary? How am I supposed to act?” It feels like a feather in the wind. It feels like a lost kid at the county fair. It feels like a white fluffy dandelion seed floating to wherever.


The child loses respect for the parent because she knows that the parent is slacking with the parenting role. This middle schooler knows that the parents are to enforce the curfew. One thing middle school kids can do easily is detect a fake. The child becomes angry. The feelings fester and the not knowing just where she stands in the realm of her house is extremely frustrating. “Am I important? Am I to be here at this time or not? Where am I to be?” the child mentally cries out. Middle school students need age appropriate boundaries, which provide the security and safety to move toward becoming an adult.


There are some middle schoolers who are so in tune with their inner Truth, Wisdom, and Knowingness that boundaries do not carry the same importance. Testing the boundaries is just not needed. The parent and the middle schooler agree upon a time together out of mutual respect for each other’s needs: the middle schooler’s need for socialization and the parent’s need to know the child is safe. There are still boundaries supporting the child, though. These boundaries include staying where the parent thinks he is, informing the parent if the child goes to a new location, and involving himself with positive activities that are in alignment with his Truth only.


Boundaries play an important role with any middle schooler’s life if approached in such a way that feels good to both parties: child and parent. The boundaries provide a loving safety net for the activities middle schoolers wish to participate in. Isn’t this like any activity any person want to participate at any age? To honor any activity in which anyone wants to participate, there are boundaries that support the participant so that person can obtain the most enjoyment from the activity. Are there boundaries for rock climbing? Yes! Are there boundaries for sky diving? Yes! Are there boundaries for driving a car? Yup. A rock climber wants to return from the experience safely and be able to share the experience with others. A sky diver prefers an intact body with no twisted ankles upon return to Earth. A car driver deems it a good trip if safely arriving at the destination without scratches, dings, or dents to the car. There are ways to achieve these desires through honoring the boundaries. In this light, boundaries support all the participants in this time of middle school: the student and the parents.








“I don’t have any friends.”


“I’m so fat.”


“No one likes me.”


“I can’t do this.”


“Life sucks.”


“I’m horrible at ______________.”



When these statements are heard by parents, it is so disheartening because we understand the downward path our beloved children are on that could have serious, detrimental effect for years…sometimes, decades. Since the statements are being verbalized and heard by others, it is understood that the statements have been swirling around inside for a long time and now are coming out through the mouth. It’s a plea for help. They are statements that are really communicating, “I need assistance to bring myself back into balance.”


Many parents don’t know what to do because counterbalancing the statements is frustrating at best and isn’t effective. There aren’t enough “But, you ARE pretty” comments that can offset the “I’m ugly” statements so another strategy is warranted. Intervention is necessary.


While this seems to be a normal phase of the typical middle schooler and a “it’ll pass” parental attitude is common, I assure you that it doesn’t have to be this way. I have seen plenty of middle schoolers smartly bypass this typical behavior. They simply didn’t engage it. What is the difference between the two types of middle schoolers? Answer: at some conscious level, they not only knew about, but experienced a strong Divine personal power connection and nothing was going to separate them from their personal power.


Personal power has nothing to do with a family’s income, how busy a child is with empowering activities and experiences, how school-smart he or she is, or how many friends a child has. It has everything to do with knowing and experiencing an understanding about Who We Really Are.


Do you know Who You Really Are? Do you know Who Your Child Really is? Both of you are Divine spirits in borrowed body suits on life journeys trying to have the best experiences right now. I’m not kidding about the Divine part. You are literally Divine Droplets of Source who agreed to go through a veil of forgetfulness to have Earthly experiences/life journeys to fully experience what it means to be Divine. Part of this journey is forgetting we are Divine in order to experience the opposite so to realize we are Divine. 


“Huh?” you say. I know it’s a bit crazy. It goes something like this: you can’t know Love without knowing the absence of it. Both are needed to fully understand Love. You can’t know up without knowing down. Both are needed to fully understand up.  You can’t know hot water without knowing cold water. Both are needed to fully understand hot water. So re-membering our Divinity while on the Earthly journeys is what it is all about. 


How do we remember or re-member? Our feelings are the guide. On the path back to knowing our Divinity feels really good. Good, positive vibes say, “Keep going. You’re on the right path.” Off the path back to knowing our Divinity doesn’t feel good. Negative, odd vibes say, “You’re off-track. Go in a different direction.”


When anyone or a middle schooler uses negative self-statements, it is pushing away from Divinity. It’ll feel off, odd, weird, yucky, and less-than-wonderful. Many people don’t know how to remedy the situation, which makes them feel even more off, odd, weird, yucky, and less-than-wonderful, which makes them say even more negative self-talk. It’s a downward spiral.


In addition, we live in an attraction-based environment so we are magnets to what we think about, talk about, feel, and believe. The negative self-talk creates a storm of negative vibes anyone who uses them. I see it as a constant dark cloud surrounding a person. There’s no escape from this situation other than understanding Who We Really Are (Divine), using feelings as guide, and understanding we are magnets always attracting to us those things we think, say, feel, and believe. 


Now, knowing this information, any middle schooler is in charge of his or her vibration. It can only come from each person. This is why parental intervention of trying to counterbalance negative statements won’t work. The change comes from within the person once he understands that he IS Divine, that she has a guidance system that reveals if the self-talk is working for or against, and that he is a magnet pulling toward him the good stuff of life or the unwanted stuff of life or a combo of the same.


Middle schoolers are quite interested in personal power, getting the fun out of life, and living the good life so this conversation will be of keen interest to them. They want to know how to manipulate their lives for it to “totally rock.” This is how. 






Divine Options

One of my favorite sayings that has come through me when writing is “You are never stuck. Your child is never stuck. You always have options with everything.” From the moment I received the quote from Divine, the word option was forthcoming from my lips…often. I used and still use it regularly in my parenting life, as an Empowering Relationship Coach, and for myself. Personally, I love knowing that when I seemingly come to a brick wall, I have options.


Options definitely apply to the subject of one’s career. Middle schoolers are beginning the deep search into their future livelihoods, their careers, their means to make a living. The most important piece of advice I can offer, of course, is to consider all options because there are many. And, this is something that will need to be an intentional act because so much of American education is solely focused on college-bound careers. Schools and school districts are compared to other schools and other school districts regarding percentages of students who graduate with college plans. A high percentage is highlighted. It is celebrated. It is cause for bragging rights. People want to purchase homes in neighborhoods within a school district with high academic college-bound students.



Two Specific Options

All this hype and focus creates an imbalance, however. Other very lucrative, enjoyable, and viable options are not as strongly encouraged. At times, these career paths are downplayed and even ridiculed…until a plumber is needed. Or an electrician. Or a mason. Or a strong military to both protect and deliver humanitarian supplies on a huge scale.


I’ve seen the students who would be better suited for trade education or military life. Sometimes, it is quite evident who these students are. It would be a wise parent, family member, peer, teacher, or guidance counselor to guide such students toward a non-college or partial-college career path.


One time, I was observing a student having NO interest in my lesson, but was constructing the most creative objects from an eraser stub and paper clip. I watched with great interest because I recognized this student’s talents, his aptitude, his intelligence forthcoming from the two miscellaneous objects becoming something more with the aid of his adept fingers. This wasn’t his first time ignoring regular education instruction to focus upon what really wanted to ooze out of his brain. No, this was him claiming his true self on a regular basis while college-bound based education was all around him…which really didn’t suit him at all.


Not surprisingly, he caused behavioral issues many times. He was suspended many times. He was known as a troublemaker. His creative genius just didn’t fit in with the type of education that was being offered. I suggested to him to learn as much as he could in school and to focus on a career that would allow him to work with his hands. I’ll tell you this…I’d like him to be the mechanic who works on my car!




My husband served in the military for over 30 years. Having been a military wife now for a decade, I now know what this career path has to offer. It is a definite viable option that could have equal exposure, focus, and promotion just as college-bound options are.


Many students don’t know what they’d like to do even by high school graduation, and this makes the military a very good option. The five American military branches are very adept with providing structure, discipline, focus, education, dignity, morals, travel, organization, and career paths, which may include free or nearly free formal education.


In my master’s program, I took a course on exposing us teachers to many non-college education careers. We visited these places in our community: a car dealership, a culinary school, trade schools, a military base, and more. It was so thought-provoking, but what made it even more interesting was the professor’s son. At 16 years old, he was allowed to stop attending high school, obtain his GED, and enter mechanic school. The professor stated that her son was now making more than she was with multiple degrees! Her parental wisdom knew her son would do well in a different educational environment so she agreed. She gave him the gift of options.



Devil’s Advocate

I understand the security a college education offers. I do think, however, job security for all career paths has improved. We must rid ourselves of the educational timeline. One can always return to college later if it’s deemed important.



The Point

The main point I’m trying to make is to consider all options because there are many. What will suit your child best? Where do your child’s talents lie? What have you observed your child doing best? What annoying trait does your child have that is really a career path in disguise? Hopefully, a lightbulb will go on or you’ll have an ah-ha! moment and share it with your middle schooler. Ultimately, it’s his or her decision, but you can be a wonderful guide in the process of career deciding.






Many middle schoolers explore their expanding growth by using swear words at this time of their lives. It’s a step that most parents wish their kids would skip. Embarrassing situations can arise especially when grandma visits or someone’s boss is nearby. Despite the obvious difficulties with this particular unpopular phase of life, it does convey much for a parent to notice.


Why do you swear? (Come on…admit it.) It’s probably because it’s funny to swear. Everyone knows it’s not an appropriate word choice so when swearing occurs, it can be quite humorous. Recently, I saw a facebook post demonstrating 26 different uses for the word shit. It was funny!


Sometimes, adults swear to release stress. There are times I just want to go outside and curse up to the heavens because I’m THAT frustrated. Alone in my car, sometimes, I do. And, you know…I do feel a release.


Other times, people swear to communicate how much something hurts. Stub your toe and “ouch” just doesn’t cut it. In this case, using swear words is a means to distract from the throbbing pain. 


When your child swears, try to sense the why before, during, and after telling your child that there are plenty of other words to choose to express the same information. (Yes, we all don’t want middle schoolers everywhere getting into the routine of habitual swearing. Explain that swearing, when used rarely in the appropriate settings, can have positive effect, BUT the key word here is rare.)


Middle schoolers are humans who are venturing into the adult world, but don’t have the verbal skills to effectively communicate. To compensate for it, sometimes they act out, yell, and swear.


So, when your child swears… Is your child stressed? Is your child mad? Is your child hurting? Is your child trying to be funny? Is your child stuck in a foul-mouth habit? 


Seeing the reason behind the swear words will provide you insight to what is happening with your child. You can express loving concern while expressing how swearing is not appropriate language. Getting your child to open up regarding why he or she is swearing is your glorious parental opportunity! In this way, you can be GLAD your child swore! I know it sounds funny, but I believe in using anything for the betterment of my child. Don’t you?




Strange blog title, indeed. I’ll explain.


I work with kindergarteners in my afternoons with letter recognition, sound recognition of letters, beginning word sounds, and ending word sounds. Super duper important things to learn because it’s the basis of all reading and writing. To read, one must know letter shapes, letter sounds, and the ability to hear them. I’m watching with utter amazement these beginner readers progress through the process of achieving these skills. Some can do it well. Others struggle. Since it’s still early in the school year, a typical help session goes like this:


“What is the first sound you hear in cup?”


“ffffffff” or “ssssssss” are common responses when the students haven’t mastered the ability to hear the sound, recognize it, and dissect it from the whole word. Whatever sound they can think of is offered as an answer to my question.


“There’s no ffffffff in cup,” I tell them.




I try again, “Cup. ccc-uhh-ppp.”


I stretch out the word as much as I can to aid the students in hearing the three sounds that compose the word. “What is the first sound I make when I say cup?”




I marvel how I learned this skill seeing how difficult it is for these students. I marvel at my daughter’s achievement in this area, too. I marvel at everyone’s ability!


I try to contemplate ways to make it easier for these students to “get it” because I know the sooner they have this skill in their pockets, the better for them. While frustrating because from my perspective letter-sound recognition is sooooo easy now, I know by the end of the year they’ll have gained this vital reading and writing skill. 


It’s the same with middle schoolers, yes?


Skills we adults see as sooooooo easy now are hard for them…or at least a challenge. Organization. Time management. Meeting deadlines (essay due dates). Keeping a schedule. Asking for help from an authority person. Handling difficult people. Getting over breakups. Seeing a manipulative person for who he or she is. Ignoring negative people. Understanding societal boundaries. Focusing in an environment that is teeming with distraction.


How tempting it is to yell in parental frustration, “Turn in your homework every day for every class!” or “Keep your work in each folder for each class so you know where it is!” or “Write down EVERYTHING in your agenda!” or “Ignore gossip!” or “Just talk to the teacher!”


Here’s the good news: They’ll eventually get it. Keep reminding…preferably without yelling. Smile a lot. Love your middle schooler and remind that he or she eventually have it all together. This is the point and purpose of middle school! It’s such a transitionary period for these students, just like it is for kindergarteners, and they will eventually gain these skills that will serve them just as vitally as knowing letter and letter sounds.