Today I interviewed Dale and LuAnn Klein, a couple who has worked with middle school kids for decades (as Awana leaders) … and still continue to do so. They have a passion for these kids who are … in the middle.
From their perspective, here are 12 characteristics of middle school teens:
1. Even kids from Christian families aren’t encouraged spiritually as much as you might think. Don’t assume.
2. Middle schoolers are unique. They’ve kind of, sort of left childhood and are grappling with maturity. One minute they’ll act like kids and the next minute they’ll act like adults.
3. Middle schoolers are going through hormonal changes. One week they’ll be over-the-top noisy and energetic and the next week they’ll be quiet.
4. Middle schoolers react to the group and often become noisy and silly. But when you talk to them one-on-one or in a group of 2 or 3, they’ll be serious and truthful.
5. Middle schoolers like to learn.
6. Middle schoolers are inquisitive and will ask a lot of questions.
7. Middle schoolers like asking the pastor questions – about the Bible, about what he does all week, about pop culture. Becoming comfortable asking the pastor questions will help them later on when they need to talk to him about a theological issue or a life decision.
8. Middle schoolers (especially girls) are fashion conscious and don’t want to do anything that makes them look silly in front of others.
9. Middle schoolers (most of them) don’t like to be put on the spot. Some, however, don’t mind being the center of attention. Leaders need to get to know their kids. (Play games kids win or lose as a group, rather than have one person’s performance make the difference for everyone. Although, again, get to know the kids.)
10. Middle schoolers kids love to help. They are willing to serve if leaders guide them.
11. Middle schoolers like to participate in the meetings. Give them opportunity to lead in prayer and to occasionally lead a discussion, teach a verse or help with a lesson. (Always asking beforehand if they’re willing – again, don’t put them on the spot.)
12. Middle school kids are motivated by incentives.
Do you work with middle schoolers? Do you have anything to add?