Middle School 6-8th GRADES
Individual Therapy with Adolescents
I have a great deal of empathy for teens as they experience so much change all at once. Hormones trigger physical growth, academic and social pressures increase, expectations change at home and at school, dating and sexuality emerge, and a more cognitively, emotionally mature sense of self begins to develop. Adolescents are discovering their personal power for the first time, and often struggle with how to effectively use assertiveness to communicate their needs, resolve conflict amicably, and make beneficial choices. At the same time, parents have new demands placed on long-established roles, and often struggle to adjust their parenting approach. The entire family shifts as the adolescent develops and strives for autonomy, making for one of the most challenging stages in the life of any family.
Common issues focused on in individual therapy with Adolescents are:
- Managing anxiety, depression, and mood swings
- Enhancing educational performance and motivation
- Improving anger management and frustration tolerance
- Dealing with social pressures and joining healthy peer groups
- Improving judgment and making positive choices
- Developing positive coping skills
- Effective ways of handling peer pressure
- Improving positive and clear communication
- Improving compliance at home, school and in the community
- Developing a healthy and positive sense of self
For Middle School Ages
Now that your child is in middle school, your 6th grader is reading more challenging material and is developing his/her critical analysis skills. The math she/he is studying is becoming more complicated and abstract, as she/he learns about concepts such as variables and equations.
Social & Emotional Development
Social and emotional intelligence involves understanding your feelings and behaviors, as well as those of others, and applying this knowledge to your interactions and relationships. Research has shown that those with high emotional intelligence have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. The concepts in our programs are based on interrelated sets of competencies. Many social and emotional skills are developed over time, and some adults are stronger in this area than others, as is the case with children. We offer the information below to help you support your child’s social and emotional development, and to reflect on your own skills in the process.
During the middle-school years, young people are in transition from childhood to adolescence, and this can have an effect on their behavior. This phase is marked by emotional and physical growth. The onset of puberty may also make some teens unpredictable or moody and can cause them to feel out of control of their changing bodies. You can help your teen navigate through these years by taking the time to listen to his concerns and providing guidance and encouragement. Keep in mind that every adolescent develops at a different rate, leading to different social and emotional behaviors. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on sets of competencies developed by the collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact his teacher or school counselor or your healthcare provider, or visit our additional resources pages.
BFF MIDDLE SCHOOL INDIVIDUAL LESSON PLANS
1. Lesson Topic: Behavior
BFF firmly believes when dealing with Behavior there is no magic formula that will work in all situations. It’s helpful to understand the kinds of issues that impact a child’s behavior. In our Behavior lessons, children will understand these issues and know what to expect at different developmental stages, their reactions will be wiser and it will be easier to create an environment that supports and nurtures your child. BFF’s goal is to help children learn how to care for themselves, and give children doable tasks and be supportive when children experience failure as well as success. This also will give children real and meaningful work to do, which will help young children learn to be good citizens and have high hopes for our children.
2. Lesson Topic: Social Skills
BFF believes that there is no question that children with better Social Skills have a significant advantage in life. They not only experience the rewards of positive relationships, but they do better in school, have a better self-image, and in general, are much more resilient as they face life’s inevitable challenges. The category of Social Skills can also be expanded to facets of self-control such as appropriate behavior. For many children, Social Skills are learned by observing how others in their environment handle social situations. Our Social Skills lesson will teach children how to imitate desirable responses such as turn taking because little thought is given to how the young child became so adept at playing board games, cards, or other activities that require a child to wait for others.
3. Lesson Topic: Friendships
BFF believes that at any age, having friends provides support and promotes mental health and wellbeing. Children’s Friendships are also very important for their social and emotional development. Our Friendship lesson will teach children through Friendships how they can learn how to relate with others. They develop social skills as they teach each other how to be good friends. Children who have friends are more likely to be self-conﬁdent and perform better academically at school than those without friends. When children have difﬁculty in making friends or in keeping them, it often leads to feeling lonely and unhappy with themselves. Feeling rejected by others may lead to signiﬁcant distress. Learning positive Friendship skills can help children socially so they feel happier and more conﬁdent.
4. Lesson Topic: Academics
Our Academics lesson will focus on the development of a child’s character, confidence, motivation and personal responsibility for all their schoolwork, all of which contribute to the child’s academic and personal wellbeing. A child who is academically motivated wants to learn, likes learning related activities, and believes school is very important. Our Academics lesson will help children develop a desire to do well in school because our children that believe learning is important and rewarding in their lives will go far in their future.
5. Lesson Topic: Bullying
Our Bullying lesson will help children understand the extent, seriousness, and dynamics of Bullying. Children will be able to recognize and respond early and effectively to behaviors that can lead to bullying along with learn about new effective strategies for controlling bullying. This will prepare your child to recognize and respond effectively to early Bullying behavior. BFF will empower your child to actively intervene to prevent and stop Bullying.
6. Lesson Topic: Responsibility
BFF firmly believes that Responsibility is a value children learn from their parents, schools, peers, and society. It is a lifelong skill that helps children be successful throughout life. Children grow into responsible adults when they are taught and guided to act responsibly. Teaching children Responsibility can begin when they are young. In this Responsibility lesson, BFF will find ways to teach children a sense of Responsibility is one of the best characteristics you can develop in your child. Responsibility is a lifelong skill that you can teach to your young children, beginning now! Your child can become better armed at making decisions, learn control and grow as you want them to, as a person who does tasks without whining or constant direction.
7. Lesson Topic: Self Sufficiently
BFF believes that teaching your children Self-Sufficiency enables them to develop the skills necessary to survive in an unpredictable world. Children who have a sense of independence and Self-Sufficiency are more likely to handle the challenges of growing up, are more likely to perform better at school and in other areas of life, and they are likely to grow into successful adults. In Self Sufficiently lesson, teaching your child to be Self-Sufficient and instilling in them a sense of personal responsibility are two of the most difficult challenges of parenting. What’s happening too often is that our kids have no idea how to self-manage. In some extreme cases, completely normal, competent children are reluctant to do for themselves things that are age-appropriate, such as sleeping alone, solving problems with their friends, and the big one, doing their homework without parental aid.
8. Lesson Topic: Family
BFF believes we are all part of a Family. Families are configured in different ways with many factors affecting them: divorce, adoption, remarriage, ethnic diversity, grandparents as primary care givers, single parents, foster care, etc. In this Family lesson, children will learn that there are different kinds of families and no one structure is better than another. They discover that all types of Families love and care for each other. The children will discuss their Family structures. They will become familiar with the Family diversity of their peers and others in the world and learn about Family habits, history, and values.
9. Lesson Topic: Leisure Education
Our Leisure Education Lesson is designed to prepare children for optimum independent participation in appropriate leisure activities, including teaching the social skills necessary to engage in leisure activities and developing awareness of personal and community leisure resources. This lesson will include, Leisure Awareness, Leisure Resources, Leisure Communication Skills and Leisure Planning.
10. Lesson Topic: Problem Solving
BFF believes that Problem Solving in children is a critical survival skill. Problem Solving skills are necessary to resolve conflicts that arise on almost every day. In our Problem Solving lesson, children will learn that Problem Solving skills are necessary to solve children’s own problems, which eventually will assist them to build self-composure, as well as self-esteem and self-confidence. Problem Solving skills assist children solve their own problems, big or small, with a sense of immense confidence. Whether your children are already attending their school today or whether they are still at home, teaching Problem Solving skills will help them develop a dynamic personality and smart mind. When your children know to how to solve problems, they can flourish very well in their classroom by scoring better grades and marks. Furthermore, problem solving skills also help your children confront any type of problems or obstacles that they come across in the society.
11. Lesson Topic: Perspective Taking
BFF believes the common misconception is that life skills are picked up by children as they go through life. Although this may be the case for some life skills, sometimes it is necessary for us to take specific measures to ensure that our children learn these skills and learn them well. For instance, children generally develop Perspective Taking as they grow older but some children are better at it than others. In this Perspective Taking lesson, in a nutshell, it is being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what they are thinking and feeling. Individuals who are adept at Perspective Taking are capable of correctly interpreting what others are thinking, and what they mean from what they say and do. There are numerous benefits of Perspective Taking.
12. Lesson Topic: Teen Dating
BFF believes that for many, raising a teenager is the most intimidating chapter of parenthood. Discipline becomes increasingly difficult and may feel impossible to maintain. It’s tough to know when to set rules and when to give freedom, when to bend and when to stand firm, when to intervene and when to let live. This Teen Dating lesson will discuss crucial aspects of relationships before he or she enters into a relationship. BFF will teach teens the importance of dating, how to have respect for one another and protecting themselves from emotional and physical hurt.
13. Lesson Topic: Wellness & Nutrition
BFF believes healthy eating and physical activity habits are important for your child’s wellbeing. The purpose of Wellness and Nutrition is to enhance opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for children by implementing strong and comprehensive eating and wellness activities for our children. This lesson includes goals for nutrition education and promotion, physical activity, and other home-based activities that promote children wellness. This lesson provides positive messages that help children develop healthy eating and physical activity habits. It also provides an opportunity to practice these healthy habits. Our Health and Wellness lesson includes the opportunity to make personal choices from healthy food options in the school, dining area and throughout the school, the opportunity to eat in pleasant and comfortable surroundings, and the opportunity for physical activity that is fun. By providing these messages and opportunities, lifestyle choices are being taught in different environments.
14. Lesson Topic: Social Media
BFF believes it is important for us to be proactive about internet safety. Kids are making new friends and adding those friends on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Unfortunately, there are people who can use your child’s personal information to steal identities, bully them or begin an inappropriate relationship. This social media lesson will help protect students from online dangers. There are plenty of good things about social media, but also many potential dangers and things that you want your kids and teens to avoid. Kids don’t always make the smartest choices when they post something to a site like Facebook or YouTube, and sometimes this can lead to problems. So this Social Media lesson will teach children how to use social media wisely.
15. Lesson Topic: Teen Drugs & Alcohol
Our Teen drugs & alcohol lesson is designed to provide pre-teens and young teens with the facts about what alcohol is, how it affects the brain and body, and how it can lead to risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence. Students will learn about binge drinking and will explore the body’s reaction to alcohol abuse over a long period of time. The influence of peer pressure and the media will be discussed, along with strategies for making healthy choices.
Worried About Your Middle School-Age child?
Many parents are not concerned about an elementary age child who is “quirky” or “a bit of a loner.” However, the features of children with Special Needs can be more clearly seen in the middle school years. When a child is around students at school who are increasingly independent and sophisticated, important differences in socialization, communication and behavior can become more noticeable. These differences can cause obvious difficulties for a young adolescent with a learning disorder. Parents, teachers or staff may become concerned. Other students may notice the differences, and unfortunately, bullying and rejection may result.
When we see the features of Special Needs in a middle-school-aged child, we notice that the child is often not able to do what is expected. He or she may be less able to cope with the demands of middle school and have unexpected ways of responding. For example, most junior-high students depend on their network of friends to get by when things are hard. Students with ASD may not have friends to provide the practical or emotional support they need. Repetitive behaviors, sensory sensitivities, “meltdowns”, and high levels of anxiety may affect children on the spectrum. Many children with ASD need considerable support to progress and learn, socially, emotionally and academically, at this time.
One of the first things you can do when your middle-school-age child who has Special Needs is to be sure you understand the social, communication, behavior, sensory, physical and cognitive/learning differences that are part of spectrum. You need to know how each of these features affects your child because he or she will probably need help to develop in each of these areas. Adults need to work together and make a plan to help their child learn new skills, make progress in all areas of development, and manage new demands specific to middle school.
The middle school years are a time to focus on many important skills to help the child be successful and independent in the present and the future. Based on the needs of each individual child, parents will want to speak up and help the educational team focus on the development of. Effective communication with adults and other children, including the use of speech or augmentative communication device if needed. Communication includes reciprocity (give-and-take), initiating, responding and relating.
1). Social skills for friendship and learning such as responding to other children, understanding social expectations, and game skills.
2). Self-care skills such as managing belongings and personal hygiene.
3). Study skills such as paying attention, shifting attention, handling school materials, following directions, and completing routine and tasks.
4). Academic skills in all content areas, including comprehension of written material and production of written work.
5). Self-awareness skills such as knowing how to seek appropriate sensory input, taking for a break when needed, and understanding how he or she is affected by their autism.
6). Safety skills such as traffic awareness, informing others of intent to leave the area, seeking adult support to leave a building or area, waiting when told to wait, coming when called, and stopping when being asked to stop.
“Fitting in” skills such as moving around the building quietly, following directions given to the whole group, waiting in line for a turn, and understanding schedules and schedule changes.
This focuses on strengthening fundamental social skills while learning how to generalize skills across various people and environments. It is also geared towards individuals on the spectrum, and individuals who struggle with difficulties in the areas of communication, emotional regulation, and social interactions. Through a mix of conversation, experience sharing, role play, and other activities, group facilitators address issues related to greater responsibility and independence, changing peer relationships and pressures, and developing social confidence, while continuing to expand skills related to perspective taking, appropriate assertiveness and conflict resolutions.