The Fall of 2015 was an exciting time at Woodland Park Middle School. Extracurricular opportunities expanded with 3 new clubs (drama, robotics, and gardening), our band continues to grow to largest size in years, and our athletic teams reached new levels of success. Academically, WPMS continues to thrive with more and more students enrolling in honors courses than before. The teaching staff has been hard at work planning meaningful and rigorous lessons, while at the same time delivering it in a manner that is engaging and exciting for students. 2015-2016 is certainly on track to be a breakthrough year for the Bulldogs.
As we reflect on the past year and set personal goals for the future I’m reminded of some of the great conversations I’ve had with parents. One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from parents is “How can we, at home, help prepare our student for high school and beyond?” Often this question is posited in the context of which classes students should take, should they get tutoring outside of class, or what supplemental materials are available to help ensure academic success. All of these are important questions and are often discussed and answered by our skilled staff. However, what is often buried in these conversations is the social/emotional needs of our young students.
Middle School is a crucial time for students to not only learn academic skills and concepts, but also develop their own personal view of themselves. Often we want to push and challenge them, but forget that how they view their learning is just as important as what they are learning. A recent longitudinal study in the American Journal of Public Health analyzed 20 years of data and discovered a direct link between social/emotional skills and academic, social, health, and economic success. For each increase in a student’s social competence score, they are twice as likely to earn a college degree and 46 percent more likely to have a full-time job in early adulthood (Jones, Greenberg, Crowley, 2015). Even better is the news that these social/emotional skills can be learned, especially in Middle School! Here are some simple strategies we’ve learned works well with young adolescents that might help at home:
As we look forward to 2016 and prepare our 8th graders for high school and beyond, let’s continue our focus on academically preparing our students, and also bolster their self-confidence so they don’t miss out on the joy of learning and exploration. This will foster the kind of well-rounded, life-long learners we need leading the future of San Marcos.