Updated: Feb 18
Middle school. I feel pretty confident that when most of us hear/see those words we have a physical reaction…shoulders slump, a cringe on our face, perhaps an ‘ugh’ escapes. These are certainly not the years we tend to look back on with fondness.
Not only are our bodies undergoing physical transitions from youth to adulthood, but our brains are also transforming with greater awareness. The world is no longer black and white, lots of gray shades begin to appear. We are given new amounts of freedom and real choices. As parents, we relish the idea that our middle school kids don’t need a sitter anymore, but we also know this means they are alone and susceptible to bad decisions. The Department of Justice statistics show violent crimes (more than 25%) by juvenile offenders peak between 3pm and 4pm, when the school day ends.1
Participating in extracurriculars is a great way to keep students out of harm in these afternoon hours before parents come home. For many students, middle school is their first opportunity to participate in a sport, club, or music. They are encouraged (and rightly so!) to try something new. Coming out of elementary school confidence abounds and this is the chance to expand horizons, meet new people with common interests, and align with positive role models. But what happens when a family can’t afford the $30 instrument rental fee, the $20 wrestling pads, the $15 costume? The confidence, the excitement, the dream…is squashed. The spark is gone.
Start 1 Spark consciously targeted our mission at the middle school level. If a student’s confidence from elementary school can be kept alive into and through these transformational years, the student is more likely to enter high school with positive role models, confidence, and belief in oneself. A mindset that can propel a student to soar into the future.
By working together, we can make sure the spark that is lit in our youth’s early years, that desire to explore and discover, continues to burn bright with extracurricular participation to light a more positive and assured path forward.
1 The Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/offenders/qa03401.asp (6 January 2022)