When your child is an adolescent the approach of summer can look like an impending storm. Are they old enough to be home alone all day? How can I be sure they aren't watching TV or playing video games the whole time? How can I support their passion for their particular hobby or interest? How can I make sure they develop healthy, appropriate friendships? Before looking at ways to answer those questions, let's take a look at adolescents or middle school age youth. What are they really like? What are their developmental needs?
Research has shown that middle-school-age youth have some amazing characteristics.
-- They are highly curious and want to learn about things that they find interesting and useful.
-- They much prefer to learn hands-on and they like to interact with their peers when they are learning.
-- They are interested in real life experiences.
-- Adults fascinate them. They watch what we do.
-- They are striving to become individuals and to be unique but they care a lot about what their peers think of them.
-- They are very loyal to their friendship groups and have a strong need to belong.
-- Their bodies are growing and changing rapidly.
So how do parents balance their concern for their middle schooler's safety and personal growth with their child's growing need for independence, curiosity, and devotion to their friends?
Look for activities or experiences that will challenge your middle schooler. Make sure that they can learn hands-on and that they have some say in how the activities are structured or how they can participate.
Help them play to their strengths. It's important for adolescents to feel competent, to show others that they can achieve. Make sure whatever you and your youngster choose gives them opportunities for success. Check to see that the program or activity is led or taught by caring adults who understand and like middle school age youth. See that building friendships and treating others well is an integral part of the program or activity. Go through the options with your child. Talk about what is important to them and let them know your expectations.
Wisconsin Youth Company's Middle School U may be just what you and your child are looking for. It offers half- and full-day courses taught by skilled and caring instructors. Topics include a wide range of hobbies and interests -- cooking, sports and the arts are all offered. Courses are hands-on with time before and after class for students to hang out with their friends and socialize while they play cards, have a snack or just relax. Staff emphasizes respect and helps all kids to be a part of the group. Middle School U offers the chance for young people to learn new skills, make friends and safely exercise their growing need for independence.
Visit the Wisconsin Youth Company website to learn about Middle School U summer courses for middle school youth.
This story is written and presented by Wisconsin Youth Company, which provides quality before- and after-school care, summer day-camp and travel camp experiences and family travel adventures. WYC exists so that the children of Wisconsin benefit from communities that nurture them at a sustainable cost.comments powered by Disqus
Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?
If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.
I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.
On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.
You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.