Writing became one of the most precious gifts to me at 8 years-old. To this day, it is my chosen mode of communicating.
Last week Thursday marked 6 weeks that (most) students have been in school. First, I am not a licensed psychologist, but over the last eleven years in youth ministry, I've noticed a trend once we hit 6 weeks into the school year.
"Can you pray for me? I'm really struggling."
"Everything feels really hard right now."
"I'm really anxious. I can't sleep at night."
"I'm really depressed. I don't know what to do."
"My best friend decided to ditch me for a guy."
"I can't keep my mind focused on the game."
I don't know what this phenomena is but it seems as though each school year as we hit the six to seven week mark, all of these things start to bubble to the surface in our teenagers. Maybe they're things that have been present since week one of the school year, but now reality is settling in. "The honeymoon is over," as one teacher put it. This year, I finally have given a name to it: the six-week slump.
By this time, students have adapted to the new routine of the school year and the 'newness' of a new school, new schedule, new classes, and all things 'new' have worn off. I've wondered that after six weeks of a new school year, real life has settled in for our students and maybe some hard realities are hitting them and life just feels really tough.
That one friend he/she had in elementary school is too involved with another friend or maybe even a relationship and doesn't have time for him/her anymore.
The fall sports seasons are winding down and either it's a great thing or a really hard thing. The day-in-day-out routine of practices and games is tiresome and the student is ready for a break.
That one class isn't getting any easier and it's almost the end of the first quarter and your student is wondering, when will this all make sense to me?
Because of these realities or other situations going on, students start to question their identity, purpose and belonging. There are more outbursts, there are more tears, and there are questions of "why?" and wondering if Jesus even cares. You could say that it's a time and period when students feel really low and potentially anxious.
Regardless of what our students are experiencing, and based on past experience, these six to eight weeks into the school year can be rocky. Situations like those listed above or others can cause students to really start to question their identity, purpose, and belonging. That's when we as parents and the church link arms even tighter and remind our students that because of Jesus, they are loved, they matter, and they belong.
I'm curious to know if you've noticed this in your teenager during their Middle School years or if you're noticing it now. If you're an educator, coach, or someone that works with teenagers in some capacity, what do you notice around the six-week mark?