8th grade is a year of change. Students are not only making academic gains but also looking ahead to who they want to be as human beings. This is an exciting process which at times can be uncomfortable for them and for you as parents.
Personal development during this time takes many avenues. For some this means exploring friendships and what it means to be a friend. People who have been friends for years may find themselves drifting apart as interests develop and change while those who have not spent much time together may suddenly find themselves sharing new interests and thus more time together. In class my expectation is that all students welcome everyone and work with others respectfully. This particular group of young adults has done that on a daily basis. I have touched bases with the other teachers and they assure me that they are open and welcoming with each other. They keep an eye out for classmates who are hurting, alone, or in need. When placed in groups they welcome their partners and work effectively with them. This does not mean they never get frustrated with each other, but it means they deal with it appropriately and don't hold grudges. As students are exploring new friendships there will be times that individuals invite one or more others to spend time together outside of school. As parents we may question their choices. That is a great time to ask questions which may help students to think through their choices, but in the end, it is time to let them see what comes of their decisions.
Another outlet for social development is social media. Some students are using 10 - 12 apps or forms of technology on a daily basis. These can be powerful tools that put all of the knowledge of the world at their fingertips. It can also allow them to communicate with each other at all times of the day and night. In 8th grade these communications can be silly, funny, educational, friendly, and appropriate. They also can be the converse. Now is a great time to have honest conversations about what type of communications your family considers appropriate. What are appropriate hours? What are appropriate topics? What should they do if they are being appropriate but someone they are talking to isn't? Taking time to talk these things through when it isn't a problem allows your teen to react appropritately when they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. These topics will be addressed again when we get to FACTS class later in the year, but there is no reason to wait until then.
This is an exciting time in your family's life. It is emotional, exciting, scary, and joyous. The entire staff of Cascade Heights is here to walk this journey with you, through the ups and downs. Conferences are coming up in two weeks and is the perfect opportunity to discuss your hopes, dreams, and concerns.