Friday, September 17, 2010

Understanding Kids in the Middle

 This article is about understanding what adolescents are going through and attempting to understand them. Weiner specifically addresses the issues facing children ages ten to fifteen, who are literally "in the middle." These tweens who are truly in be-tween are experiencing their life as if on a rollercoaster and are developing physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Weiner addresses the issue of handling the tween rollercoaster by suggesting one understand "PIES (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Social development of young adolescents) and use this information when working with middle school kids by creating strategies that meet their needs." (Weiner, 2007, p. 74)

I believe that this article introduces the idea that librarians should spend a little more time understanding the WHYs of tween behavior and learning the best ways to interact and handle tweens in the library. Weiner gives some basic theories and suggestions about middle childhood; libraries could use this information to build a workshop curriculum to help all staff to understand and work/interact positively with tweens.

Growth spurts cause kids to be gangly and uncoordinated and yet are full of energy; those working with kids should be ready to let them use up their energy. Librarians should include activities that allow movement and yet be prepared for those moments where kids fidget and can't hold still. Librarians should never hold that against them. At this stage in life, curiosity comes into the equation and kids need to be challenged and have their interest piqued. This is the perfect opportunity for library staff  to broaden the horizons of young minds and also showcase the library collection and highlight the areas that interest tweens. There is also an increased need for independence that must be met carefully as not to overwhelm them when they may not be ready. Boundaries should still be set and librarians should emphasize the rules while not being too harsh about emotional outbursts that come hand in hand with this age group. Being present in the children/youth area of the library shows not only interest in what tweens are doing/reading, but also gives opportunities to build rapport as well as carefully encourage proper library behavior.

Weiner, C. (2007). Understanding kids in the middle. Principal (Reston, Va.), 86(4), 74-5. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.

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