Learning from middle schoolers

Grades 6,7,8 typically fall under middle school. While volunteering at one of the school events, got a chance to spend a few hours with a small group of middle schoolers. We started chatting and some of their perspectives were eye-openers for me. Sharing some of them!

I asked them – What is the most important thing you learn during middle school?
Was expecting an answer like – you learn the importance of studies, your dreams, aspirations etc etc type of answer 🙂

Instead, this is what I heard..

You need to make at least one friend during middle school. Someone whom you can trust and someone who will stand by you – no matter what! For that, you need to know yourself… middle school is the time when one realizes their gender or wants to change one. You need to know who you are and be ready to accept it. You know your friends and their choices better as they grow. You choose who you want to be associated with, what problems you choose to deal with and who are the ones who you do not need in your life. You do not know the personal life challenges of anyone and the choices they make. So, you need to be ready to be there for your friends if they need help. In our group, we have seen friendships fall through and rebuild over time during middle school. One friend is all it takes to make things easier!

How do you choose your friends? How do you know where you belong?

Everyone smiled.. we just know. Mostly, you would have the intelligent ones who are super-competitive, who do not want to share their knowledge with anyone. There are those who are the good personality types, whose grades are not always A+, they are the ones willing to help others and when someone needs a friend they will be there. There are those who vape and get into drugs, etc and there are the toxic ones…you do not want to go there. Of course, there are clubs and activities where you can make friends who share your similar interests as well

My jaw dropped…

I asked how would you know a toxic person?
Someone who craves attention, is ready to do attention grabbing stuff and can hurt themselves pretty badly. Endless conversations and chats are only about them and what happened to them and how bad they felt. One look at the length of their chat can tell a lot about someone.

We got busy with our volunteering work and I started thinking about my childhood and my friends circle, my choices, my awareness levels about what I just heard. This generation seems to observe a lot more than we did, and are willing to make bold choices and giving the space for those around them to make theirs.

Making one long-lasting friendship is all it takes to have someone to talk to always, and never feel lonely, never needing to go through depression – not just in childhood, but throughout life! Kids understanding and appreciating it warmed my heart!

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