ABOUT THE BOOK
I am writing a book about children in middle school, based upon my clinical experience with students, families, and schools over the years. My goal is to inspire a conversation about what it is that children need to better prepare them for high school and adulthood.
I have observed that the majority of older teens look back upon grades six through eight as a dismal period. Through writing this book, I am hoping to challenge the notion that this often miserable chapter in the lives of students be accepted as a rite of passage. Sandwiched between the adorability of elementary age and measurable achievements of high school teens, students in middle school are struggling to find a niche and discover who they are. The focus of my writing is to place a spotlight on this population.
Ignoring the plight of the middle schooler leads to more pronounced problems in high school. Pathos in the middle school years may be a prelude to impulsivity and self-harm in the later years, and can tragically alter the trajectory of their entire lives.
Youth violence and suicidality are becoming a rising concern in the United States. According to 2011 High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey [YRBS], almost 8% of high school students report that they have attempted suicide one or more times over the past year. 20% have had suicidal thoughts. By changing the culture of interactions between adults and youth during the middle school years, youth suicide prevention campaigns might become much more effective.
While the peak age for youth suicide is sixteen, it is quite likely that the rumblings of discontent are set into motion during the middle school years. Grades six through eight may not be so far behind. Substance abuse in eighth graders is just as shocking: 7% report marijuana usage in the past thirty days. 6% report alcohol usage in the past thirty days. My goal with this book is to help change these startling trends.
As this social media savvy generation hurtles into adolescence, adults may be inadvertently missing opportunities to connect with our middle school students. This book challenges the culturally supported trend to normalize detachment between adults and children during the middle school years. A focus on behaviors that emerge between grades six through eight is intended to persuade earlier intervention, and stop children from growing up so fast.
My book provides parents, educators, clinicians and others with an understanding of the developmental reasons for a middle-schooler’s behaviors, the child’s perspective, the environmental influences that compound the middle-school problems-including our school system-and effective solutions. It is an attempt to recalibrate our complacency through these crucial years.
I truly appreciate your patience in reading through this lengthy letter. It is intended to help you understand what my writing is about. I hope that it will ignite your interest. If you believe that it is worth taking a look at, please do reach out to me. I could provide you with a sample chapter or more, to scrutinize. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Interspersing real voices, unadulterated experiences, and candid opinions from parents, educators and children will help the writing come alive and be heard. I am therefore asking you to share your observations, based upon the interactions with your child during his or her middle school years. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you in helping me with this project to any extent that you feel comfortable. Thank you for taking the time to read through the questions, and sharing with friends and family. Most of all, I am grateful for your encouragement.
With warm regards,
Nausheen Din, MD
HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Dr. Din's book needs YOUR help. Agents and publishers have expressed interest, but are pushing for a media platform. It seems that simply being a concerned clinician is not sufficient! Here is how you can make a difference:
- Participate in creating a campaign based upon her book
- Share personal anecdotes about your experience as a parent of a child during their middle school years
- Encourage your child [even if they are long done with middle school] to share their opinion or personal anecdotes about their experience of the middle school years
- If you have any connections to a celebrity please help connect them with Dr. Din. It helps to have a known name and face supporting the project.
- Ask your local school if they are interested in a presentation or seminar by Dr. Din
- If you are interested in helping Dr. Din create a campaign, please email her at email@example.com
- If you have any connections with a middle school PTO, please ask if they would be open to a “sharing of thoughts/observations/experiences” with me as a group.
- If you have any connections with a middle school teacher, staff or administrator, please ask if they would be open to a “sharing of thoughts/observations/experiences” individually or as a group.
- If you have ANY connections to the media [TV, newspapers etc], please connect them with Dr. Din, please help! Visibility will help get the book published.
A FEW GUIDELINES FOR SHARING YOUR OPINION OR STORY:
- Please communicate privately with Dr. Din via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- By responding to questions or sharing your thoughts, it is implied that you are consenting to your answers being published in Dr. Din's upcoming book. Please specify if this is NOT agreeable to you.
- Please provide your name, your child’s name and child’s current age for context.
- Please be assured that your anonymity will be respected to the utmost. Names and identifying data will be changed to protect confidentiality from being compromised.
- Please base your answers upon what your child was/is like during his or her years in middle school.
- Describe your own personal experience as well as you can. Detail is good. Be frank and candid. You do not need to be politically correct. Speak from the heart with authenticity.
- Answer any or all questions to any extent that you choose.
- Feel free to share this questionnaire with your friends, as long as they are willing to participate by sharing their thoughts with me by email.
- Ask your child for their opinion about the middle school years, especially if they are now older.
- Please add anything else that you would like to share. There is no such thing as TMI!
SAMPLE QUESTIONS AND CUES:
Please respond privately to Dr. Din via email to email@example.com. You may choose to answer as many, any, or all of the following questions, based upon your experience as a current or past middle school [MS] parent:
- What is the most difficult aspect of raising a middle schooler?
- What should schools do differently during the MS years?
- What do you remember about the relationship with your child in the elementary school? Has it changed as your child entered the teen years, and how?
- How has your involvement with your child’s school changed from elementary to middle school?
- Does volunteering at your child’s school provide parents with a social network?
- What was your experience with parent cliques in elementary school [ES]?
- What was your experience with parent cliques and the PTO in MS?
- Are working parents excluded from cliques in MS?
- Is MS unwelcoming to parents? What is your opinion about keeping parents out?
- Do/did you find yourself spending money on your child to connect with him/her?
- Do you or did you feel ignored, excluded or distanced by your child during the MS years? How do/did you respond to this rejection?
- Do you or did you find yourself rediscovering your social life again, as an adult when your child was in middle school? [e.g. Girls night out]
- Has your child stopped communicating as much with you?
- Has your child become more critical of you during the MS years? What do they criticize? How do you react?
- How does your child feel about physical contact [such as hugs] from you or your spouse?
- What is bullying? [Please answer this without looking up any website or literature, simply as you understand it]
- Describe an incident where your child was personally bullied. Did you report the incident? If yes, how did it help with the situation? If no, why did you not report it?
- Did you notice any change in your child’s personality after he/she was bullied? Did he/she shut down or pull away from you? Did he/she complain of headaches/stomach aches?
- Do you feel personally ostracized or excluded by parents or teachers if you are a parent to a bully victim?
- Do you stay away from parents whose children are being bullied? Why?
- Describe an incident where your child was a bully to a peer?
- Describe an incident where your child was a bystander to bullying? Why did he/she choose to do nothing?
- Does the anti-bullying program at your school seem to be effective? Why? Why not?
- Does your child communicate far too much with his/her friends via social media?
- Does your child resent the way you ask him/her to do a chore?
- Please describe the change in your child’s self esteem during the middle school years?
- Is homework a stressful time for you and your child? If so, please describe.
- Do you have more time for yourself now that your child is in MS? How do you spend it?
- Do you compliment your child more or less than you did when he/she was in ES? Why?
- As a result of the physical changes in your pre-pubertal or pubertal child, have you or your spouse pulled away from your child in any way?
- How did/do you celebrate your MS child’s birthday? How is it different from ES?
- Describe the state of your marriage during the MS years? Is it now stronger and thriving, or does it seem to be lackluster and neglected?
- Many high school youth report that experimentation with drugs and alcohol began by eighth grade. What is your experience?
- Is there anything else that you would like to add?