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Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 6-8

4 min read

Raising Kids Who 'Love Their Neighbor'

By Dave Runyon on Nov 10, 2022 8:00 PM

[Editor's Note: The following has been adapted from an interview with "The Art of Neighboring" co-author Dave Runyon on the "Navigating Your Child's Education" podcast for parents. Make sure to check out the full conversation here.]

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6 min read

Testing, Testing 1-2-3

By Tom Burns on Oct 13, 2022 8:00 PM

Periodically throughout a school year, students are required to take some sort of standardized test or tests. A few common tests middle schoolers take in private and public schools are the CoGat tests, MAP tests, and Terra Nova testing. It can be tempting for parents to gravitate towards one of two extremes when it comes to their students' testing and results: apathy or obsession. These tests are certainly important--they provide a glimpse of a student's growth and capabilities, help to guide curriculum planning for schools and districts, and inform classroom teachers of students' areas of strength and opportunities for growth. But they are, by no means, the "end all, be all" of a student's progress, achievement, or growth. Parents who have some understanding of the types of tests their students take and how to interpret their results are better equipped to develop a healthy approach to testing and make informed decisions about their student's education. 

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4 min read

Addressing the "No Homework" Misconception

By David Stoll on Sep 29, 2022 8:00 PM

Mom says: “Why are you watching Stranger Things? Don’t you have any homework?”

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3 min read

Hurt, Healing, and Hope: Mental Health Among Today's Teens

By Dr. Mike Hayes on May 19, 2022 8:00 PM

In 2018, a global study was conducted in several countries around the world to assess the mental health of incoming college freshman. Based on data collected and analyzed in this research project, the American Psychological Association reported that one in three college freshman "report symptoms consistent with a diagnosable mental health disorder." While their findings are alarming, they are not altogether surprising. 

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5 min read

Healthy Relationships in Middle School

By Elisha McNeal on Apr 21, 2022 8:00 PM

According to an article in Medical News Today, there was a new study posted in the journal Child Development that shows "teenagers with close friendships tend to be more adaptive to stress, report being happier due to an increased feeling of uniqueness, and are likely to do better academically. Additionally, they have high self-esteem and are more assertive." This probably isn't earth-shattering news to you, because I'm sure adults could say, "SAME." Human beings have a better quality of life, feel more hopeful, connected and a sense of purpose when they are in healthy relationships--romantic, family, friends, etc.

Over the last five years, I've had the honor to work with youth who have been victims of human trafficking, and a key to both helping to prevent victims and a key to healing is healthy relationships. It's such a significant part of our lives, and yet is also one of the most complicated and potentially hurtful parts of our lives as well. My hope is to talk a little bit about what healthy/unhealthy relationships have to do with human trafficking and how you, as a parent, can engage with your teen on this topic.

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3 min read

The Power of Story for Middle Schoolers

By Worthington Christian School on Mar 17, 2022 8:00 PM

Margaret Peterson Haddix is a New York Times best-selling author for children and teens with over 40 published titles. In a recent interview, she shared these reflections on the power of story for young people, the appeal of dystopian tales for young minds, and encouragement for parents as they navigate tough topics in reading with their kids.

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3 min read

Speaking the Same (S)Language

By Emily Johnson on Feb 10, 2022 7:54 PM

In a recent unit in my eighth grade language arts classes, my middle school students have been digging into word origins, meaning, and the evolution of language. We have discussed big questions like:
  • Who (what groups or individuals) influence and change the English language? How do they do this?
  • Why do dictionaries matter? How can they be helpful/useful for English speakers/readers/writers?
  • Will the English language ever stop evolving?
  • How has the English language changed over time? (consider inventions, geography, humanity, etc)
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4 min read

Strike Up the Band!

By Tim Miner on Jan 20, 2022 8:00 PM

There is perhaps no story of a youth marching band more famous than the classic musical The Music Man. It is the story of a slick travelling salesman who poses as a music professor. Going by the name of Professor Harold Hill, the salesman convinces a small town in Iowa that they have troubled youth and offers them a solution: starting a boys’ band. “Professor” Hill smooth talks every young person and parent alike that they need to purchase instruments and uniforms to create this boys’ band, promising that they will all become proficient musicians in no time at all. What the townspeople do not know is that “Professor” Hill has no musical ability whatsoever and does not have the ability to teach youth to play instruments. Hill plans to skip town before his newly developed boys' band ever performs a note, but his plan goes awry. He ends up “leading” the boys' band, complete with their brand-new instruments and uniforms, in a—creative—rendition of Beethoven’s Minuet in G. Despite the proper music knowledge or training, the parents are thrilled to see their children in the “band.”  

Topics: Middle School
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5 min read

What Parents Need to Know about Plagiarism

By Emily Johnson on Dec 2, 2021 8:00 PM

In our world today, we can share posts with the click of a button. We can copy a picture from Google images and use it in a variety of ways. There are endless images and words on the internet, and it is all so easily shareable. I don't think that giving appropriate credit for work, ideas, or words is emphasized. For young people, this shareable world is the only one they've known, and this reality presents a particular challenge as they grow into the middle and high school years: plagiarism. That is, using someone else's words or ideas without giving proper credit. 

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3 min read

Helping Our Kids Navigate Doubt

By Worthington Christian School on Oct 21, 2021 8:00 PM

Deconstruction. Doubt. These are words that have surfaced as commonplace in our culture and within the Christian faith specifically.
Doubt often feels scary. Many of us were handed a vision of the Christian faith that says there’s a series of boxes to check to be considered “in,” so the minute we start questioning any of those boxes, we can begin to doubt our very faith. Yet, some of us need to deconstruct wrong ideas about God.

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3 min read

Raising the Next Generation of Cybersecurity

By Dr. Seth Hamman on Sep 16, 2021 8:00 PM

Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field that specializes in securing and defending operating systems and servers, devices, networks, and data from malicious attacks. On a personal level, we know that our email can be hacked or our social media accounts can be compromised. On a corporate level, there has been an alarming number of data breaches in recent years. On a national scale, even our government and civic infrastructure are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Perhaps the biggest threat to maintaining our way of life involves the need to secure our country’s citizens, online infrastructure that’s directly tied to physical infrastructure, pipelines, and more.

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5 min read

Understanding the Middle School Brain

By Worthington Christian School on Aug 26, 2021 8:00 PM

One moment, our middle schooler makes a great choice and shows signs of maturity. The next moment, they do something so foolish it catches us off-guard and leaves us feeling frustrated and confused. Middle school is notoriously challenging. Teachers, parents, and students alike experience difficulty during this period of development. Understanding that your middle schooler is going through significant brain changes may help you relate better to them and empower you to care for them.

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9 min read

Easing the Pain of Summer Reading

By Emily Johnson on May 12, 2021 8:00 PM

As each school year comes to a close, parents and students alike collectively breathe a sigh of relief. Summer! That glorious break from the stress of writing papers, meeting project deadlines, and late-night study sessions. Yet, there is often this little nagging thing that tends to hang over the sunshiny months between school years, creating stress, frustration, and conflict between parents and their students: summer reading. Many schools, especially for students in middle school and high school, have required summer reading. It may be just one or two books already selected by teachers or students may be given options of books to read. No matter the structure or requirements, what I have witnessed in my own experience of teaching seventh- and eighth-graders is that students typically fall into one of two camps when it comes to summer reading—the early-readers and the procrastinators. 

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3 min read

Three Big Mistakes Student-Athletes Make

By Amanda Moskal on Apr 22, 2021 8:30 PM

As an athletic trainer for middle and high school sports for the last 13 years, I have worked with hundreds of young athletes. The youth sports world is an increasingly competitive one, and it’s not uncommon for students to play on multiple teams or in multiple sports—often playing year-round. Though many young athletes are looking to gain a competitive advantage and increase their strength and physicality, there are three basic but significant mistakes I see students make as they engage with sports. Knowing what these mistakes are and avoiding them will ensure that your young athlete is set up for success in their athletic endeavors.

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2 min read

Five Signs Your Child is Struggling with Schoolwork

By Scott Alexander on Mar 18, 2021 8:00 PM

Ups and downs in school are inevitable, and some subjects and grades might go more smoothly than others for your child. No child has a completely trouble-free school experience, but it’s important to be aware of issues that might have deeper roots and require more intensive intervention.

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3 min read

The Growing Demand for Trade Workers

By Scott Laslo on Feb 25, 2021 8:00 PM

There are a number of careers spanning multitudes of markets in which the current workforce is aging out and retiring, and there are not enough young, equipped workers to take their place. If more young people do not begin to pursue skilled trades, we are going to see a significant worker shortage in coming years.

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2 min read

Education: Indoctrination or Invitation?

By Troy McIntosh on Jan 28, 2021 8:00 PM

One of the great deficiencies of the modern education machine is that it treats learning as a mechanistic exercise in which information is fed to a student’s mind where it is processed, stored, and used as needed, almost as if the student were a computer grinding all the data that it receives from the outside. In this model, the computer itself (i.e. the student) does not really change, it just continues to store and use more information.

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3 min read

Encouraging Your Middle Schooler as a Reader and Writer

By Emily Johnson on Nov 12, 2020 8:00 PM

As a seventh and eighth grade English teacher, I am both intrigued and disheartened by how many students enter my class who have already declared themselves "not a reader" or "not a writer." Certainly, writing a literary analysis in middle school language arts is different than writing an Instagram post or texting with friends, but we are all readers and writers. As parents, family members, and support system members of middle school students, we have a tremendous opportunity to encourage students as communicators.

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3 min read

Are we getting hacked?

By Kary Oberbrunner on Oct 22, 2020 8:00 PM

Welcome to the Attention Economy–where you are the product. In this digital landscape, they keep score with eyeballs and eardrums. Your attention–even for a few seconds–translates into cold, hard cash they're willing to manipulate and even hack you for.

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5 min read

Keeping Our Kids Safe on Their Smart Devices

By Worthington Christian School on Sep 10, 2020 9:00 PM

A study on tween and teen media use conducted by Common Sense Media in 2019 revealed some intriguing data. They found that over two-thirds (69%) of kids have their own smartphone by 12 years of age. That means that most middle schoolers and their parents have entered the world of smartphones, with all its apps, online entertainment, and social media interaction.

Another particularly eyebrow-raising finding is that only 15% of tweens report using an app or a tool to track their device time, and only about one in four tweens (28%) say that their parent uses an app or tool to track their child’s time spent on a device. While 50% of tweens say that their parent does use some type of app or tool to monitor what they do on their devices, this still leaves a lot of young people unchecked with what they do and how long they use their phones each day.

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3 min read

The Effective Christian Teacher

By Al Iten on Aug 20, 2020 8:00 PM

Years ago I had to step away from teaching, the vocation that I love, in order to be present for my family in a time of acute need. Not knowing how long my time away from teaching would be, I wrote out a message to my fellow teachers at that time. This message was essentially a list of my personal goals as a teacher, attributes of what I consider to be an effective Christian teacher. Not that each of my colleagues--or any other Christian teacher--must have these exact same goals in order to be effective, but to offer some thoughts to consider as they continue in their calling. 

I have witnessed that it is easy for teachers to get caught up in being graders instead of being teachers. It is also easy for Christian teachers to add their faith on top of their subject, rather than weaving their faith into all that they do--the presentation of material, the curriculum itself, assessments, interactions with students, conduct with colleagues. Faith can be incorporated into every element of teaching because it is part of our identity.

So to remind myself and encourage others, here is the list of attributes I consider vital to being an effective Christian teacher.

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4 min read

Keep Running Your Race

By Nancy Secrest on Jul 29, 2020 9:00 PM

There seems to be a growing sense of apathy because of all the change, uncertainty, unpredictability that we are living in these days. None of us know what's really going to happen or how it's going to happen, so it can feel hard to get excited and look forward to things that we've been expecting. If you are finding yourself feeling anxious or unmotivated or apathetic, know that you are not alone. It is helpful to identify these feelings and even share them with a trusted friend.

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4 min read

Constructive Screen Time for Middle Schoolers

By Worthington Christian School on May 6, 2020 9:00 PM

Whether it's distance learning, a summer in which all group activities are cancelled, or just another day at home, your middle schooler likely has some spare time on their hands. What are some ways middle schoolers can stay engaged with learning in meaningful (and enjoyable) ways when they find themselves with "nothing to do"? Sure there are countless video games, movies and TV shows available at their fingertips, but what are some more constructive ways middle schoolers can use screen time for learning and growing? Below are some teacher-recommended ways to keep middle schoolers engaged:

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6 min read

Family Sabbath

By Laura Fitzpatrick on Apr 16, 2020 9:00 PM

I wish I could say I was a particularly spiritual child, but I wasn’t. In fact, I basically hated Sundays. It wasn’t the morning and evening church services I didn’t like—it was the in-between. My parents were quite strict about that time of the week: no play dates, no school work, no sporting events, no television, no eating out, required naps, etc. These Sabbath day practices felt unbearable to me. So as soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions, I dropped all of those Sabbath rules.

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5 min read

Talking With Our Kids When Life Feels Hard

By Jim Parrish on Apr 2, 2020 9:00 PM

During his first inaugural speech, President Franklin Roosevelt shared with a Depression Era America, "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  As a society, we are currently experiencing events that can foster a variety of fears. I would encourage all of us to look at the spirit of FDR's words and lean into his urging of not focusing on being fearful.

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5 min read

Understanding Middle School Conflict

By Andrew Sweigard on Mar 12, 2020 9:00 PM

Middle school is commonly known as an incredibly challenging time in the lives of young people. This is largely because of the prevalence of interpersonal conflict and an inability to know how to navigate it. Throughout my years as a middle school teacher and administrator, I've encountered more of these types of issues than I can count. One type of interpersonal conflict, bullying, is certainly a major issue in middle school, but in my opinion, true bullying is the least complicated type of middle school interpersonal conflict that occurs. Most conflicts that I have dealt with are incredibly complex, as they involve numerous layers of action, interpretation and assumption, perspective, and communication. It is so important for parents of middle school students to be aware of the complexities of the middle school social structure that often gives way to interpersonal conflict.

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3 min read

Note to Self: High School Freshmen Reflect on Middle School Experience

By Abby Palmer on Feb 25, 2020 9:00 PM

I recently asked my freshman English students, “If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your middle school self that you now know?” I challenged them to reflect on this question and write about it, drawing from their own experience to offer advice to current middle schoolers and parents. Their responses were honest and thoughtful.

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7 min read

Teaching Our Kids to RESIST

By Rich Nathan on Feb 13, 2020 9:00 PM

Followers of Jesus are called to radical non-conformity to the culture around us. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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6 min read

Is Fear Shaping Our Kids?

By Rich Nathan on Feb 6, 2020 9:00 PM

My wife Marlene and I are raising a 17-year-old. She’s a member of Generation Z (anyone born between 1997-2012, 7-22 years old). As I’ve observed her, her friends, her generation, it’s clear to me that Gen Zers share some common experiences and traits, and suffer under cultural pressures unique to this time in history. As parents and grandparents raising young people in Generation Z, it’s crucial to understand what distinguishes this generation so that we can equip ourselves and our young people to withstand the pressures we all face.

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3 min read

How do I get my child to read?!

By Gretchen Cline on Jan 21, 2020 9:00 PM

As a teacher of fifth and sixth graders, this is a question I hear commonly from parents. As students this age are maturing in their literacy skills and taking on more complex reading material, some kids fall in love with books. These book-lovers need little to no encouragement when it comes to reading. In fact, some kids may need to be told to put a book down every once in a while (at a family dinner, for example).

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2 min read

What Does Creation, Fall and Redemption Have to Do with Education? [VIDEO]

By Troy McIntosh on Jan 9, 2020 7:00 PM

One of the grand themes of Scripture is that of the Creation, Fall and Redemption. It first appears in Genesis 1 with a sweeping account of the creation of the universe. God establishes himself as creator, ruler, and sustainer of all that exists. Just two chapters later, we learn of the pervasive and devastating effects of the fall. The introduction of sin into the world shatters everything. The world is no longer as it was meant to be. Then finally, in Revelation 21 and 22, we receive a glimpse of the redemption of all things, when God restores the entire creation back to its original created order. Everything in between those beginning and ending narratives is the story of God accomplishing this purpose.

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4 min read

Learning to Let Go

By Lorie Kaufman-Rees on Dec 12, 2019 7:00 PM

“Mama bear.”

It seems to have such a positive connotation at first, doesn’t it? The notion of the protective parent, getting between her (or HIS) babies and any element of danger?

But here’s the thing (trigger warning): the key word in that sentence is BABIES.

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2 min read

Modeling Faith for Middle Schoolers

By Michael Clutz on Nov 7, 2019 7:00 PM

Clink! Clink! Clink!

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4 min read

A Matter of Time

By Katelyn Geisler on Oct 24, 2019 7:00 PM

As a middle school Intervention Specialist, it is my joy to work every day with sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. One of the biggest struggles my students wrestle with is time management, both how they view and spend their time.

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2 min read

Engaging Students: Kindling the Love of Learning

By Robert Brisk on Oct 8, 2019 7:00 PM

Five years ago at the Wellington School, we started to question deeply one of the most basic premises of educational policy held here in the state of Ohio and in our country. We questioned the extraordinary reliance on minimum standardized testing as the only widely recognized measure of success in education. Indeed, we were not the only ones. Professor Daniel Koretz from the Harvard Graduate School of Education said it this way: “The pressure to raise test scores has become so strong that testing often degrades instruction rather than improving it. Many parents have encountered this — large amounts of teaching time lost to test prep that is boring, or worse.” Many parents agreed, wondering whether test prepping was good for their children.Was the OGT, the PARCC, or the AIR testing getting at what most mattered?

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4 min read

Recognizing and Addressing Anxiety in Your Middle Schooler

By Nancy Secrest on Sep 24, 2019 7:00 PM

Stress and anxiety affect all ages in our society, but it is especially pronounced in the middle school years. While the middle school years are notoriously awkward and rife with transition, they are arguably more challenging now than ever before.

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3 min read

Parenting Tweens: The League of Folly and a Tribe of Discipline

By Dean Fulks on Aug 27, 2019 7:00 PM

Prov. 22:15 – Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15 is obviously a controversial verse for a number of reasons. This particular proverb seems to point to physical forms of discipline and could be misconstrued or taken to a very harmful extreme. Discipline can take many different forms in a parent-child relationship. How we discipline our children must be determined within the context of our relationship with the Lord and the individual needs of our children.

What’s interesting to me is that these words “bound up” and “rod” in Hebrew have dual meanings. So while at first glance, one could quickly read this verse (and other Proverbs that refer to the “rod” in parenting) and conclude, “If I spank my child, that will correct their behavior.” But through drilling down into the meaning of this text, we read a richer, deeper vision for godly parental discipline.

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1 min read

Getting a Smart Start to Middle School

By Ruth Beschta on Aug 15, 2019 1:00 PM

Transitioning from fifth grade to sixth grade is a big jump. There are usually many adjustments that new middle schoolers must make as they make this transition. They may be changing classes for the first time, dealing with a locker for the first time, learning how to interact with several teachers instead of just one or a few, grappling with more challenging class content, navigating new social dynamics and much more.

Here are a few ways to help your tween get a start smart to middle school:

Topics: Middle School
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3 min read

Self-Concept in the Middle School Years

By Patricia Boyd on Aug 1, 2019 11:00 AM

“I’m not smart.”

“I’m not good at math.”

“I wish I could play the piano like her.”

“I’ll never play soccer as well as him.”

“I hate the way my hair looks.”

“I need to lose weight so I can look like her.”

“He’s more popular than I’ll ever be because his parents are rich.”

I have heard phrases like these from my students countless times over the last 20 years of teaching middle schoolers. All of them are indicators of self-concept

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3 min read

Two Ways to Help Your Middle School Student Own Their Education

By Tammi Evans on Jul 19, 2019 11:30 AM

Transitioning from elementary school to middle school can be difficult for young students. The middle school years are marked with significant milestones and changes.

Topics: Middle School
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2 min read

A Holistic Approach to Education and Discipleship

By Worthington Christian School on Jun 20, 2019 12:01 PM

So much of our lives and society is compartmentalized and segmented. It’s easy to think, “Worship happens at church; pastors are responsible for biblical teaching and discipleship. Learning about the world happens at school; teachers are responsible for disseminating knowledge. Experiencing relationships happens at home and with friends; parents are responsible for teaching their children about love, grace, and forgiveness.” While these assumptions and responsibilities are in part correct, they do not fully represent how Scripture prescribes our lives.

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5 min read

Hot Summer Reads for Middle Schoolers

By Worthington Christian School on Jun 18, 2019 9:35 AM

Let's be honest: reading a good book is probably not at the top of your middle schooler's summer priorities. From outdoor play to summer camps and activities to screentime , summer reading can get lost in the shuffle. Nonetheless, it is important for continued development of literacy skills, expanded vocabulary, creativity cultivation and success in the coming academic year. 

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3 min read

Growing Middle Schoolers Into Spiritually Healthy Adults

By Troy McIntosh on Jun 6, 2019 1:45 PM

 

Now that our youngest daughter has gone off to college and left my wife and me as (mostly) empty-nesters, I sometimes wonder whether we provided our daughters with the parenting they will need to be spiritually healthy as young adults. I suppose most Christian parents engage in this thought process at some point. And, of course, like most parents, I look back and think of a thousand things I would do differently if I could go back in time given what I now know.

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2 min read

The Importance of Student Collaboration in Developing Soft Skills

By Troy McIntosh on Jun 6, 2019 1:40 PM

In a world of an increasingly competitive job market, the tendency for educators and parents is to place more and more emphasis on academic achievement in order to position our children and students for the best possible university opportunities and career choices. While academic ability and technical skills are essential, employers are beginning to shift focus in their hiring practices, placing greater value in interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate. 

Two recently published studies show how a major American technology firm changed its mind about its hiring practices. Over the last couple of years, they transformed how they thought about the vital qualities that its employees ought to have. They shifted from believing that they needed the brightest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) minds to recognizing more collaborative qualities such as “being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”

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1 min read

The Necessity of Challenge for Students

By Troy McIntosh on Jun 6, 2019 1:33 PM

Genesis 1 is the basis for our desire to develop creativity into students’ academic life. The nature of God as a creator means that, as His people created to be like Him, we glorify His nature when we act creatively. Moving just two chapters later in the book, however, we find Genesis 3 and the ugly ramifications of the fall of man. It is this chapter that forms the basis of the necessity of students to be challenged in school.

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