3 Easy Ways to Impact a Middle Schooler’s Identity and Faith

11, 12, 13. These are the awkward years. You remember right? Greasy hair, frizzy hair, don’t care. Weight gain and weight loss. You feel like an adult but everyone treats you like a kid.

Life for a middle schooler is rough. Forget trying to figure out who you are in Christ. Preteens are hanging onto the struggle bus for dear life.

Of course you now know that middle school drama, like everything else, won’t matter in a few short years. With the right approach you can help preteens focus on things that really count.

What is a Middle Schooler, Anyway?

The next time you take in an all-star performance from a middle schooler—complete with tears, of course—consider this: behind those emotions is a brain hard at work analyzing, processing and planning the next move.

What we’re talking about is a duality of sorts—the middle schooler you see and the middle schooler you don’t see. Continue reading “3 Easy Ways to Impact a Middle Schooler’s Identity and Faith”

Important Mental and Physical Changes That Happen at Every Phase

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses addressed the nation of Israel and made a passionate plea to “impress” on the hearts of children core truths that relate to God’s character. Some translations use the phrase “teach diligently.” The phrase can also be translated to mean “to cause to learn.” He wasn’t advocating a lecture-based, Torah literacy program where a teacher’s responsibility ended once they presented the content.

What Moses knew was this. The role of a leader is not to simply present accurate information. The role of a leader is to keep presenting, to keep translating, to keep creating experiences until someone has learned what they need to know.

So your job is simple.

Know what can be expected of them and know how they think so they will hear what you say and know what to do.

ZERO TO ONE

Mental: The brain has 100 billion neurons (roughly the number of stars in the Milky Way), more than at any other time in life

Physical: Double their birth weight and learning to roll over

ONE & TWO

Mental:Understands roughly 70 words and learning to walk

Physical:Has grown to half their adult height and can follow two-part instructions

Watch Now: They Grow Up So Fast

THREE & FOUR

Mental: Has one quadrillion (a thousand trillion) connections between brain cells (twice as many as an adult)

Physical: Can stand on one foot, jump, walk backward, and pedal a tricycle Continue reading “Important Mental and Physical Changes That Happen at Every Phase”

Why Kids Need More Than Just Their Parents

If no volunteer can ever know what a parent knows, when why recruit anyone to help with kids and teenagers?

It would definitely make things easier if you could just tell parents, “Since you know more than we can ever know, and you have more time than we will ever have, and you care about this more than we ever will, this is really up to you as the parent.

You could also misquote Deuteronomy 6 to convince parents it’s their job alone, not the church’s to raise their kids. Just skip the part of the text where Moses speaks to every leader in the crowd (not just parents).

Moses was actually the first guy with the idea, “It takes a village.”

Sure, parents should be the primary influence in their kid’s lives.

But research, experts, and statistics suggest that kids who have other adults in their lives have better odds at winning. Continue reading “Why Kids Need More Than Just Their Parents”

The One Thing Every Kid Needs the Most

All kids need the same thing.

Kids who are black, white, Asian, Hispanic. Kids who are fostered or adopted. Only children, middle children, and youngest children. High risk, special needs, gifted, introverts, extroverts, strong-willed, or mild-tempered . . .

All kids need the same thing.

Actually, it may seem like kids need a lot of things. In fact, if you listen to the voices in our culture advocating for kids, you can very quickly become overwhelmed by all the things kids need.

They need a healthy diet.
They need exercise.
They need play time.
They need study time.
They need down time. Continue reading “The One Thing Every Kid Needs the Most”

Voices of the Phase Project :: Elle Campbell

In our office, Elle Campbell is known for her love of the Middle School phase. Spend even five minutes with her and you’ll walk away a fan of middle schoolers for life (seriously!). That’s exactly why we wanted to interview her. Here at Orange, Elle acts as Creative Director of XP3 Middle School and Lead Writer for Lead Small Weekly. Before joining our team, she spent seven years ministering to middle schoolers at The Chapel in Buffalo, New York. She has also cofounded a resources site for student pastors (StuffYouCanUse.org) with her husband, Kenny, and co-hosts a podcast called Youth Ministry Answers

 In this interview, Elle explains the tension most middle schoolers are experiencing as they transition from a child into a young adult. She also unpacks why time and attention invested in a middle schooler now will make a lifetime difference later. Continue reading “Voices of the Phase Project :: Elle Campbell”