Kids in middle school (ages 11-15) are in a tough spot. Not quite adults, but beyond childhood, they’re expected to act and think more maturely than most of them can. At least not until they are taught!
Neuroscience is offering explanations for this problem. Erratic behavior, irresponsibility and often risky choice-making characterize the age. Why? Here’s the news. Just before puberty, the brain begins a new period of growth. The areas responsible for Executive Thinking (pre-frontal cortex) and Processing (cerebellum) are just beginning to mature. Reasoning, planning, organization, higher thinking, philosophy and social skills draw from these areas of the brain. Guided growth is incredibly important!
By targeting social and emotional development at precisely this age, we can equip kids for optimal results! It is a process though. Life skills take time to develop, practice to implement and consistent reinforcement to maintain. Empowering kids is the process of guiding them through these turbulent years.
What happens when we ignore the opportunity? Most of us might be able to take a guess, but here is the expert’s list.
- Youth Violence
- Achievement Gap
- Cyclical Poverty
- Mental Illness
Empowering kids now takes on new meaning and relevance when we consider the research and connect the dots.
Kids today need our help! Will you be informed and do your part?