It seems like the summer into 6th grade is a sort of time warp. Many kids left 5th grade looking like 5th graders, and entered 6th grade looking like mini grown ups 😳. Sometimes I only know the differences in myself when people remark how “grown up” I look. It’s funny because in many ways my heart feels like a really silly version of 8, 9, and 10, but, my brain says, it’s time to “grow up” and “act mature”. But, mostly my brain is nuts and doesn’t have a clue, so, I’m not sure I should trust it 🤪!
I think sixth grade is one foot in childhood, and the other in grownuphood. It’s a magical, mixed up netherland of possibilities. It’s a time to ask loads of questions. Figure things out. Linger in some loneliness. And, make mistakes. It’s a time to think about passions, and dream about the future. Eleven is a smidge of time like no other and, mostly, I hope people just let me be eleven this year.
What do I mean by this? Sometimes it feels like grown ups rush kids through important things. It’s like they want us to learn the lesson before the learning experience is even over. So, when I say let me be eleven, I want you to know, I will probably write another blog next year asking you to let me be twelve 😬. In other words, stop rushing me through times where I need to linger. Rushing feels awful, and it makes me forget to pay attention. It makes me miss important things that might become a really special memory.
I have a few other wishes for this mixed up netherland of possibilities, so I figured I’d create a small list for people to consider. Maybe if grown ups read this blog, they might understand a bit better what kids like me need. To be honest, most lists about being eleven, come from adults who are trying to remember what eleven feels like OR they are attempting to interpret eleven from the kids around them. Consider this a primary source for all things ELEVEN 😉:
1) Eleven needs choices
Most kids want choices, but when you’re eleven it’s super important for loads of reasons. Eleven is trying to figure things out, and without choices, it’s really hard to know what makes our heartbeep. We will make some wrong choices; please let us. Give us the space to learn from mistakes. Stay patient, and don’t shame us when we end up on the wrong side of right. Maybe we need a bit of wrong to understand what’s right for us. Maybe what’s right for us is different from what’s right for you. Eleven needs choices.
2) Eleven needs reassurance
I think one of the hardest things about growing up is making decisions. Decisions are super hard. It might sound like I am contradicting myself, since in the bit above, I said eleven needs choices and with choices comes decisions, but we also need reassurance when we make the decisions. Remember how I said some of my friends came back to school looking like mini grown ups? Well, just because their bodies look older, doesn’t mean they understand all the craziness happening around them. Sometimes the best kind of reassurance comes from being wrapped up in a huge hug by a favorite grown up. Please don’t ever think eleven doesn’t like to be hugged. Hugs reassure us. Hugs energize us. Hugs remind us we can make mistakes and keep going. Eleven needs reassurance.
3) Eleven needs consistency
It’s funny how when you’re growing up, you hear the word consistency a lot, like be sure to do you chores or homework with some kind of consistency 🙄. I love this word for loads of reasons, but maybe not for the same reasons grown ups like it 😬. It’s really important if you’re involved in a kid’s life you don’t flake out. It’s like the story from The Little Prince when the Rose explains love to the him by saying, “You are responsible for what you tame.” Kids learn to love by experiencing consistency from those around them. Consistency means being available, reassuring worries, answering loads of questions, or even reminding eleven they have purpose in the world. Sometimes the one foot that’s in grownuphood feels purposeLESS, so being there consistently matters. Don’t be that grown up in a kid’s life, who doesn’t see them for a long time, then regrets it. Eleven needs consistency.
4) Eleven needs challenge
Nothing is worse than being stuck in situations where learning is questionable. Sometimes it feels this way in project-based learning. It’s like every, single learning experience becomes an occasion for a project where the labor to learning ratio is skewed, so mostly labor but little learning. My mum and I talk about this ALL THE TIME, and sometimes we present on it at conferences. I like when she describes learning as the times when we have the most questions and even some confusion. She says this can push our thinking deeper and challenge us in real ways. I just love this! I love thinking about questions for a long time. I also super love looking for answers. I love doing projects too, but the best projects I’ve ever done aren’t ones graded in school; they are ones that have challenged something I feel passionate about. Eleven needs challenge.
5) Eleven needs time
Tucked up inside of me are all my years: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. I can’t be eleven without being all the other ages too. It’s really powerful to imagine how all the other ages create experiences you’ve learned from in your life. But, time is a funny thing, and it passes very quickly and sometimes even very slowly, maybe even in the same moment. It’s all about perspective. I’ve heard so many times this year, how much I’ve grown up or changed, and it’s probably true. Still, at the very heart of who I am, is who I was when I was 10, and 9, and 8, and so on. So, take the time to appreciate eleven through my eyes. Try to hold back judgments. Try to offer understanding instead of answers. Remember how time will pass and sometimes even change who I am in profound ways. Kids love when time matters to you as much as it does to them. So, try and listen when we talk on and on about Minecraft (hehehehehe 😂) because someday you might miss those endless listening sessions. Eleven needs time.
Thank you for being a part of my eleven. Thank you for thinking about choices, reassurance, consistency, challenge, and time with me. Thank you for looking at the kids in your life and considering how much your understanding can make a difference in who they become. Thank you for thinking about how someone who is eleven can teach you first-hand what matters to kids. But, most importantly, thank you for creating spaces where eleven is encouraged to grow and change, make mistakes and learn, be serious and goofy, and be just what eleven is meant to be, a big, giant heartbeep in between 10 and 12 💓.
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Hi, I'm Liv and I am super excited to share my thinking with you!