Lisa Ashraf, M.A., C.S.C.
Your middle school student is characterized by rapid physical, social, mental, and emotional growth, curiosity about her or his world, and an emerging self-identity. Through a comprehensive developmental school counseling program, we as school counselors work as a team with school staff, parents and the community to create a caring, supportive climate and atmosphere whereby young adolescents can achieve academic success. We are here to help your student to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate goals, and realize full academic potential to become productive, contributing members of the world community.
As professional school counselors, we hold a master's degree and a state certification in school counseling. We are also required to maintain our certification with ongoing professional development.
Middle School Students' Developmental Needs and Challenges
Your student is living in an exciting time. It is an increasingly diverse society with new technologies and expanding opportunities. Every student needs support. Early adolescents face unique and diverse challenges, both personally and developmentally, that have an impact on academic achievement. Middle school is an exciting, yet challenging time for students, their parents, and teachers. During this passage from childhood to adolescence, middle school students are characterized by a need to explore a variety of interests. They are also challenged by high levels of activity coupled with frequent fatigue due to rapid growth. They will begin to turn more often to peers rather than parents for ideas and affirmation. As a parent, you may also notice an extreme sensitivity to the comments from others; and heavy reliance on friends to provide comfort, understanding and approval.
Middle School Counselors provide the following:
School Guidance Curriculum
· Academic skills support
· Organizational, study and test-taking skills
· Education in understanding self and others
· Coping strategies
· Peer relationships and effective social skills
· Communication, problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution
· Career awareness, exploration and planning
· Substance abuse education
· Multicultural/diversity awareness
· Individual and small group counseling
· Individual/family/school crisis intervention
· Peer facilitation
Middle School Counselors Collaborate With:
Academic planning programs
Parent and family education
One-on-one parent conferencing
Assessment results interpretation
Assistance with students' academic plans
Classroom guidance activities on study skills, career development, etc.
Academic support, learning style assessment and education to help students succeed academically
Classroom career speakers
At-risk student identification and implementation of interventions to enhance success
Behavioral management plans
School-wide needs assessment
Student data and results
Student assistance team building
What Can You do as a Parent or Guardian?
The goals of a school and supportiveness of a teacher are certainly well beyond a parent's control. Still, it can be helpful to understand the potential mismatch between your student's developmental needs and what many middle schools offer. For one, you can watch for signs that your school is not meeting your child's needs, such as your student having less interest in class work or poorer grades. If this occurs, you could start a conversation with your student about what he or she is expecting from school and the ways it isn't meeting up. Simply opening this dialogue will help your student feel heard and respected and may meet some of her burgeoning needs. You might also discuss ways that your student might make small changes to help make school feel better. For instance, could she join an extracurricular activity in which she would get to know her teacher or another teacher better and meet her need for non-parental adult support? Or could she talk with her teacher about doing a self-designed end-of-semester project instead of the dictated project, in order to better meet her need for autonomy? A conversation with the teacher - ideally with your student present - may also be welcome. Remember that teachers can only meet those student needs that they are made aware of.
Just getting started in Middle School? For parents and students…