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Inside the body of an adult, you'll find the mind of a child. Don't be surprised if your 13-year-old appears confused about who he is and who he wants to be. For many students, appearance takes precedence over all else, and their tastes seem to change by the hour. As kids are fighting for attention from friends, they sometimes opt for crude behavior. You may now have an aggressive adventurer who is pushing the boundaries: "I can do it; don't bother me." This is a breakthrough year between child- and adulthood: The self-confident kids suddenly become so independent you see a real adult there. Children who have some yet-to-be resolved inner issues can be obnoxious and really push the limits. They are interested in experimenting (X-rated movies and books; sex, drugs, and alcohol) but may not possess the maturity to handle by themselves. They are extremely vulnerable to whims of peers. Mentally, they are moving into an analytical framework.What your child will learn
Eighth graders are the big shots; they are usually the oldest in their school and like to show it. There is a lot of detention this year; guidance counselors are often called in to resolve disputes, usually about something innocuous: One student remarks that a hat looks funny; kids start pushing and all of a sudden, it's a full-blown fight. Girls perform their own stunts; more than a few wear one outfit when they leave home, then change the instant they arrive at school. Others redo hair or makeup. Boy/girl fascinations build, especially by the spring months. Kids who aren't directly involved in a relationship walk on the periphery as go-betweens. But all this social energy can be funneled into masterful schoolwork. Eighth graders begin to segment their academic interests (most notably science or math) and have an opportunity to excel in an area -- take algebra courses, advanced science labs, accelerated English. Major decisions about career paths (college prep, vocational or general course in high school) are usually made. And kids this age love to craft vivid stories and poems.
Teachers will show students how to...
"This is a difficult year, but one parent strategy that works is simply to be available. Park yourself somewhere in the vicinity of your teenager and be there. The wildlife will approach." Nancy Roser, professor of language and literacy, University of Texas