As a tween girl growing up in the sixties, I looked forward to the start of school. First, there were the new school clothes and shoes. With four kids, my busy mother usually resorted to buying our clothes from the J.C. Penney catalog. I can remember sitting on the front porch swing looking at options. Then there were new shoes—would it be penny loafers or saddle shoes?
How I looked forward to seeing my classmates again. I had an unusual situation in that my school had just one section for each grade while most had two or three. Therefore, I was with the same classmates from kindergarten through sixth grade. We knew and liked each other well. I think we all felt like big fish in a little pond.
Then came jr. high school. Things changed! I still looked forward to it, but I was a bit frightened at the thought of going to a large junior high with students from eight or more elementary schools pouring into it. No longer a big fish, I now faced being a minnow in an ocean of fish and knowing there might be some sharks amidst the different species. Would I remember my locker combination? Would I be able to find my classes easily? Would I have anyone familiar in my classes? We walked to school back then. Would I make the ten block distance on time before the homeroom bell rang? It was such a big deal and so exciting.
Fast forward to today. No more junior high schools for grades seventh through ninth. Nowadays it’s called “middle school” and the grades are sixth through eighth. But the concerns and challenges remain the same with a few added in the challenge category. Bullying has increased exponentially. While I can recall a few instances of fights after school, it was nothing compared to today. We read of the tragic suicides spurred on from cyper-bullying. Kids are exposed to terms and information many of us in my generation didn’t know until our young adult years, and pressures from advertisers, movies, and child celebrities sexualize girls, robbing them of their innocence and girlhood. Thankfully, God has burdened men and women to provide help and hope so needed by our children.
In the resource section of this website, I listed the information for a book put out by American Girl to help with the bullying problem. They also have a great little book out called A Smart Girl’s Guide to Starting Middle School. I would have devoured a book like this as I began jr. high. It discusses juggling more homework, more and different types of teachers, the challenges of new friends, what to do about extra-curricular options, and what to do in sticky situations such as seeing classmates cheating. It’s all from a very readable, girl-oriented stance. While it is from a secular viewpoint, I wish every girl attending a private or public school could have a copy of this book with all the information it offers.
The second book is The Christian Girl’s Guide to Change Inside and Out! This treasure trove of information will help girls know what to expect as their bodies change, how to care for their hair, skin, and nails, dealing with their changeable feelings, and how to grow in their relationship with God and learning to turn to Him for help. This is another book I wish I could put into the hands of every young girl as she enters sixth grade. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, neighbors, foster mothers—you would be glad if you bought this book, scanned it, and then presented it to a young girl. There’s a saying, “Knowledge is power.” In this case I think of “power” meaning confidence and a comfortableness that can come from knowing what to expect and having answers ready at hand to read when the need arises.
School will be starting in mid August in some states. There’s still time to get these books and help a girl have a better start than she might have without reading them. Better yet, read them with her to be sure it gets done. It might generate good conversations and build a sense of trust. She will need your guidance and nurturing. And that we will discuss in my next blog. ☺