Teaching Our Kids

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It's going to be kind of weird having to get up and just go through classes instead of sitting in one classroom. 12-year old Austin Paiva is not only entering seventh grade, he's actually starting his middle school years at a high school, and this pre-teen is a little anxious.

Austin Paiva, 7th grader, "I think it should be kind of fun and stuff. But, at the same time, I'm a bit nervous because of how the other kids will treat me."

One middle school counselor says Austin is not alone in any fears about starting 7th grade, this is the first time most of these students are dealing with new people, a new school, and several new teacher. But, once the newness has worn off, he says the students become more independent, sometimes startling parents.

Gary Furman, Mendive Middle School Couselor, says "They just recently figured out, developmentally, their parents aren't perfect. Their parents don't have all the answers. By the time they leave here, most have it figured out their parents know absolutely nothing."

Corinne Paiva, Mom, "Really he's only 12. Yeah, he'll be 13, but when you put it when you say it aloud, 12 just doesn't seem that old." While Paiva's concerns focus mostly on the influence of the older students, one recent study says she's right.

According to a study released this week by Columbia University, 28-percent of middle school respondents say drugs are used, kept or sold at their school, and 41-percent of high school respondents agree. But, Furman says not to let the statistics scare you, instead use them as a warning about the constant communication necessary with your child.

"Don't ignore it and think that it's not surrounding your kid. The availability and that kind of thing... if the kids look for it, they'll find it."

Despite any of his concern, Austin says he is excited about starting seventh grade but, he does have some advice for the older students.

"It would be nice if they point me in the right direction when I ask and if they just weren't so hard on us."

Gary Furman, a counselor at Mendive Middle School, says parents can always keep an open line of communication with a counselor at your child's school, since they won't have just one teacher anymore.