Navigating the Two Phases of Middle School

Phase Defined: A time frame in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.

  • The phase that should matter most to you is the phase they are in now.
  • The phase that matters most happens before or after this phase.
  • Adults tend to assume, “They are like me now.”
  • Adults tend to assume, “They are like I used to be.”
  • Every kid at every phase is changing in six ways: physically, mentally, relationally, culturally, emotionally, and morally.
  • The vast majority of research on teens: They aren’t grown up yet.

Your Role: Affirm Their Personal Journey

Read Their Mind…

So students in the two phases of middle school will believe they can win.

  • Know what can be expected of them and know how they think so they will hear what you say and know what to do.
  • BIG IDEA: Middle schoolers think like an engineer.
  • Middle schoolers construct new thoughts and learn best through trial and error.

Children are most like adults in their feelings. They are least like adults in their thinking. More information does not make them think like us. — Catherine Stonehouse

Discover Their World…

So students in the two phases of middle school will feel they belong.

  • Sixth: Who do I like? The Goal: Gain Stability.
  • Seventh & Eighth: Who am I? The Goal: Discover Uniqueness.

DON’T MISS THIS: The buffer in every crisis is love.

Interpret Their Motives…

So students in the two phases of middle school will discern what they should do.

  • Moral emotions are instinctive. Moral development is not.
  • If you want to help a middle schooler develop a moral conscience, you have to interpret and influence their motive.
  • The ultimate motive is love.
  • Preschoolers are motivated most by acceptance.

Play To Your Audience…

So students in the two phases of middle school will discover how to relate to God.

  • Your job is not to redefine God to middle school students. Your job is to help middle school students rediscover how to relate to God in middle school.
  • How middle schooler relate to God: God’s story redeems my story.
  • When you affirm their personal journey you help a middle schooler own their own faith and value a faith community.

Three Ideas to Help Middle Schoolers Mature in their Relationship with God

  1. Connect the dots. Have a series that connects the story.
  2. Expect a crisis. Don’t pretend to be an expert.
  3. Be consistent. Show up every week.