Dear Escalante Middle School Community,
There is no doubt about it that middle school can be a difficult time. Look at these two hallmarks of young adolescence. Middle schoolers tend to have
increased concern for what others may think
increased social anxiety in general
Essentially, middle schoolers are more concerned about what their classmates think about them and tend to be more self-conscious around peers. In middle school, peer influence begins to rival or exceed parental influence, which can be a very difficult adjustment for many households. Because of the growing importance of friends, parents typically share one desire: we want our children to be good friends to others and have positive, kind friends surrounding them.
When I did a little research on middle school friendships, I was surprised by the instability researchers found in how long those friendships lasted. According to a Florida Atlantic University study, "A Survival Analysis of Adolescent Friendships: The Downside of Dissimilarity," the vast majority of middle school friendships are doomed to fail.
About half of all friendships formed in middle school (any grade) do not last an academic year.
Friendships that are formed in the sixth grade are considered “highly unstable, because primary school friendship groups are transformed across the first year of middle school.”
Likewise, friendships that start in eighth grade are also “highly unstable, because most new friendships do not survive the transition into high school”
Fewer than 10 percent of the friendships formed in seventh grade were still intact by the twelfth grade.
Herein lies the propensity for drama in middle school. Tweens are much more worried about what friends and others think, and friendships are constantly shifting and evolving.
So what do the friendships that endure have in common? Researchers found that the glue to lasting friendships is similarity. Adolescents, and adults for that matter, typically form friendships with people who they are similar to. Hobbies, interests, and personality traits form the bonds of friendship. Brett Laursen, co-author of the study and FAU psychology professor, said, “Similarity (good or bad) is the glue that keeps the friendship intact. You may be sneaking cigarettes together or both getting A's."
Middle school is a time when kids explore more of the world, try new hobbies and sports, and experiment with different looks and styles. As kids try on these different hats, peer groups tend to come and go with them. Because of the heightened emotions and social anxiety that accompanies this age, middle school can be “a time of many tears” as I heard one parent put it.
So what can we do to help our children manage inevitable friend shifting? The link to the article below offers some sound advice to parents to help your child navigate the emotional roller coaster of adolescence.
On a separate note, we are gearing up for our student-led conferences. We are hoping to get the vast majority completed on October 26th, and Crew teachers have reached out to schedule them. If there is a gap in our communication, I encourage you to reach out to your child’s Crew teacher to set an appointment. As always, thanks for your support.