Teaching Middle Schoolers

Middle school (grades 6-8 or ages 11-14) is an exciting and dynamic time. These preteen and early teenage years pose some of the largest developmental jumps kids will have to make since infancy.

The typical middle schooler is faced with:

  • A changing body due to puberty.
  • Disparity in maturity — peers are becoming interested in new things beyond the world of toys and playing pretend.
  • Social hierarchies — most children are entering a new school and with that comes the challenge of finding acceptance within a new group.  
  • Growing independent and pushing against authority figures.

Music lessons can be everything from a haven for kids struggling to fit in to an extension of in school music programs. Teachers can help their middle school students by providing great musical instruction and also real world skills, such as:

Building confidence

For some students, middle school is the first time they’ve worried about “looking cool” in front of peers. Help your students foster a sense of self worth by pointing out what in their personality and/or musical playing makes them unique.

Providing appropriate challenges

Depending on your student’s ability level, it may be time to introduce more advanced repertoire. Showing your students that you trust them to put in the work (i.e. practice) to play this new music, will impress upon them your level of investment in their education. Many students will want to rise to these new expectations you’ve set.

Personal discipline and practice

A part of becoming a middle schooler is learning how to function independently. Your students should be setting their own practice schedules and following through with few reminders. Additional assignments, like daily listening journals or more advanced music theory worksheets, can help engage students who struggle to stay focused on their own by adding structure to their practice.

Balancing being a teacher and a friend

At the end of the day, your middle school students are still kids. Even though some might seem more mature than your elementary students or more tuned into the world around them, they are not adults. Make sure you continue to stay professional by upholding the customary boundaries of teacher and student.

Explore more tips and tricks when teaching high schoolers or young children.