As most of us can attest from first-hand experience, middle school has never been all that easy to navigate. The academic expectations of different teachers and the increased stress that high school is right around the corner can negatively affect middle schoolers. Also, relationships can be confusing and exhausting.

I was recently reminded that when students know how they are smart, they can also identify how their peers are smart. If they’re confident and raised to be other-centered, they can share their insights  and have a positive impact on their peers.

I was encouraged by my friend’s story and I think you will be, too. I need to start by sharing that last spring, her son willingly on his own, read How Am I Smart? (I’ve refreshed this as 8 Great Smarts.)

My friend’s son is now a 14-year-old 8th grader. He recently came home from school and told his mom, “Mom, my friend J said he was stupid today. So I had to tell him about all the ways to be smart.”

My friend:  “What did J think?”

Her son: “He never thought about any way to be smart except word and logic smart. I talked to him about how body smart he is. I think he felt better after we talked. J isn’t stupid, he is smart in his own way.”

This mom shared these additional thoughts with me: The really cool thing is my boy is a kid who tries to do things athletically but is really wired for academics and music. And his friend J is a boy who struggles academically but is VERY gifted athletically. The info that you gave him through your book builds bridges between kids who are gifted really differently. So thank you for that!

Are you encouraged? If you are, what can you do now to create a similar experience for your kids?