Hannah (7th Grade) & Brandon (5th Grade) Give Advice on Making Friends in School

It can be hard to make friends at any age but especially as a kid, so we’ve gone straight to the source with our friends Hannah, 7th Grade, and Brandon, 5th Grade.

Popular culture dictates who is popular in your neck of the woods, and let me tell ya–it’s not enough to french roll your jeans and tease your hair with Aquanet anymore. Now our tweens must be up to the standards set forth against our fast-paced, technology-driven society.  A little self-doubt is normal but a sea of it often looms over our Middle Schoolers day in and day out:  Where do I belong? Am I good enough to be part of the cool group?

Things that seem trivial to us as adults are the most important moments at school, such as “What table am I going to sit at during lunch?” For some kids lunch and recess often present the most anxiety-filled 38 minutes of the day. Every child wants to make friends but not every child knows how.

What is perceived as an innocuous social situation can often lead to social distress. An S.O.S. call is needed to alleviate the pressure and take hold of those kids sitting at the corner table by themselves, relegated to being labeled as an outsider.

Who can answer their plea? Their peers.

Peers hold a resounding influence at most stages of development. In cases of bullying, excessive teasing, and manipulation the person who can prevent or escalate these acts of aggression are usually the other peers in the class. No one wants to be a tattletale and telling a teacher only helps so much. The answer lies in helping that group of kids who see others in distress learn to have enough confidence and wherewithal to reach out and rescue those who can’t rescue themselves–to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. With this act of heroism, comes new-found respect for oneself and sensitivity to the plight of others who have a tougher time developing this life skill.

Making friends is simply the act of taking a little risk– putting yourself out there without regard for embarrassment–and following your gut. Without risk there is no reward (like we talked about last week). We want to teach our students to avoid the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” regrets in life. So take a chance and reach out to make a new friend and teach others how to do the same. You never know whose life you’ll end up changing in the end.

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

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I Made My Student Cry, and I Liked It

cryYep, it’s true. I made my student cry, and I was glad she did.

When my 10-year-old student found out that Beth died, Jo refused to marry Laurie, and then just a few years later Amy swooped in to marry Laurie herself, the waterworks came a flowin’.  See, we were reading Little Women: one the greatest classic novels ever written, and a requirement for young girls making their way towards womanhood. In the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables, Little Women makes its mark on young girls today, even though it was written almost 150 years ago.

Little Women is a tale of four sisters, each personally navigating their own destiny with the intuitive guidance of their Marmie. The characters are bright, funny, and layered with complex emotions of the world outside their attic playhouse windows. Together they experience joy, fear, friendship, loss, love, pain, and internal triumph over struggles with gender norms and social status. It was a time when educating a woman was secondary to husband-hunting and learning how to keep home. This book, however, bucked tradition, and instead encouraged young girls to make their studies a priority, an ideal that gave the main character, Jo, permission to become lost in the art of the written word– a nod to the author’s own life.

There’s something almost cathartic about reading a book written long before technology took over. Now, I’m a fan of my gadgets just as much as the next but I didn’t grow up with information overload via iPads and cell phones. When my students find out that fact, oh the gasps of horror that wash over them followed by looks of pity as if to say, “You poor, poor Tutor. How did you ever survive?” Balance, my friends. It’s all about balance.

I ask all of my students to incorporate some classic literature into their nightly reading because I think somewhere along the way of trying to make Young Adult books interesting with vampires, alternate worlds, and magical potions we’ve overlooked the simplicity of writing an everyday, complex character with everyday, complex relationships. Nothing blows up in Little Women, except for Jo’s temper. Yet, my student came to me emotionally distraught over Jo’s choices. That’s a true testament to a story that will stand the test of time because it appeals to our most deepest emotions.

Little Women is one of my favorite stories because it pulls at my heartstrings and reminds me of the importance of family, friends, love, and laughter.  It will most certainly continue to be a staple of sisterhood and an insight into the bonds of those relationships.

So don’t be alarmed when your child comes crying to you about Beth’s death, Pollyanna’s accident, or Anne’s initial refusal to marry Gil. Crying means that they’re invested in the thought-provoking, ethereal world of classic literature.

A few classics that will make your kids cry:

  • A Little Princess
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Great Expectations
  • Heidi
  • Little Women
  • Oliver Twist
  • Pollyanna
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Call of the Wild
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • The Giving Tree
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Velveteen Rabbit

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com

A Little Confidence Goes A Long Way

confidenceIt doesn’t cost any money to teach your kids the value of investing in themselves. What do I mean by that? Confidence. The key word to change. I don’t think I truly found my confidence until I was well into adulthood. Looking back, I passed up a lot of opportunities because I failed to muster up the courage to take the leap, go out on a limb, and try something new.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I traveled the world and learned all kinds of important skills (and life lessons) but there was still this nagging voice inside that said, “Hold on. Wait a second. You need to work a little harder and smarter to get to that next level. You haven’t earned it yet.” The good news about being internally motivated, however, is that I did end up working harder and smarter than my peers in many arenas and was, therefore, able to succeed on a different level. The bad news is that this little voice didn’t ever really stop, even though I had finally achieved my goal.

Confidence is the key that unlocks the magical thing that sets you apart from the rest. When I first meet a student, their confidence is often non-existent. They have failed a test or class, been sent to the principal’s office so many times the secretary knows them by name, or were erroneously labeled and unfairly stigmatized to the point that their confidence is barely hovering above their self-respect. It is then my task to help each of my students and their families pick apart the reasons why they failed the test, were sent to the principal’s office, or were unfairly labeled. By guiding them through this laborious but logical process, the students and their parents slowly begin to realize mistakes made (by themselves and others) along the way. Once we get to the root of these issues, it’s just a matter of time before the student will begin to rebuild their often forgotten self-esteem, self-respect, and confidence.

All the educational books and specialists will tell you the same thing: the core of a well-rounded, prepared, and teachable student is confidence. It’s less about grades and more about taking the time to get to the real issues underneath the anxiety, anger, and angst. I see this time and time again in my Tutoring Practice. A frantic call from a parent over an academic concern leads to the realization that it’s really something more than their son or daughter’s lack of comprehension during the English exam. Making the time to truly listen (without judgment) to your struggling student will reveal a deeper need for internal validation, which can only come from positive praise by the ones they love the most: You!

So take the time to make the time and call me if you’re in need of backup! I’m standing by to assist in your quest to help your child realize their very best.

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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com