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Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 6-8

9 min read

Easing the Pain of Summer Reading

By Emily Solinger 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 Solinger 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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2 min read

Three Simple Study Strategies to Help Your Middle Schooler

By Tammi Evans on Sep 12, 2019 7:00 PM

Academic success in middle school often requires intentionality and discipline that students may not have needed or developed in their earlier years of education. There are many specific strategies of study that tweens and teens can use to learn and retain information. Here are three that I have found especially useful in my years of teaching and leading middle schoolers...

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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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