I don’t know why I chose to read this book during a pandemic that already had me on edge. Maybe because it had been on my bedside table for so long that I decided its turn had come. Maybe because I was looking for something besides the usual mystery escapism I had been reading. Either way, I am glad I read this, even though as a parent of middle schoolers, it terrified me.
Ms. Fagell is a school counselor at a well known private school in Washington, DC. In this book she addresses developmental stumbling blocks for kids in grades 6-8. This age group, she says, are often written off but rather should be addressed to teach them key skills they need to develop to thrive in high school and beyond.
Topics in the book include values and integrity, social skills, learning, and empowerment and resilience. What scared me, as a parent of middle schoolers, were the descriptions of conversations and quotes from kids that she used. I often felt like I had fallen behind in my parenting, and my kids were destined to be bullied, socially inept, risk takers. But then, with a gentle hand and easy to follow suggestions, Ms. Fagell discussed how to help kids build these skills and navigate their way through middle school and beyond. What was especially great was that she included specific suggestions for educators to implement in their schools/classrooms. The book is essentially a how-to guide to build your middle schooler up.
I know there a hundreds of parenting books out there, but very few make it to my “must read” list. This is one of them.