Let’s discuss how adolescents develop. This is something I feel like I should know as a teacher with a degree in 4-8 ELAR, but I still tend to forget some of the important take aways Dr. Teri Lesesne discusses in her Youtube video over this topic, especially when I’ve been working with younger children.
She first talks about the physical aspect of adolescents. How they ask things such as “Am I normal?” and the answer is neither yes or no. Everyone grows and changes at a different rate, but at this age, we are becoming more aware of ourselves and compare ourselves to others. It’s important to remember what a delicate age of physical change this is. Next she discuses the intellectual development and says until they are about 14, they are going to need some scaffolding in order to understand abstract discussions and questions. Their brains aren’t quite there yet with thinking beyond what’s concrete. Next on the table is the developmental stages. This ranges from getting along better with peers, kids their own age as well as kids of the opposite sex, to understand to their own bodies and changes it goes through. They also begin to change their relationship with their parents and not usually in a “good” way. Morals and values change. We go from reward and punishments to “there’s a grey area” to stepping up and looking out for others versus just ourselves.
As I listened to Dr. Lesesne, my mind kept going back to when I was in junior high/ high school. I remember what it was like changing emotionally, mentally and physically. I remember being more aware of myself and others around me and how I fit into the world around me with my peers. I always felt I was alone in my thoughts and feelings. I thought that since I grew up on the “poor” side of town, with a single mom who worked hard and a dad who wasn’t present due to drugs and alcohol, that I was alone in feeling like I didn’t belong. But we all know that’s just not true. This age is difficult for most kids and the sad part is, they don’t think anyone understands and they don’t have anyone they can talk to.
As librarians, we must understand where adolescents are coming from in order to assist them when they come to us. Are their needs being met? Are they to the point of understand abstract thinking? Are they struggling with identity? Do they have friends? What is their life at home life? Do they have jobs? Are their jobs for extra money or to help pay bills? We must try to help them meet whatever need they may have, regardless if it has to do with a book or not. We are there for our children first and foremost. And we can’t help them with anything academic wise until we understand them as a person.
Click on the links below to check out my reflections over those topics.