What did you need to hear at roughly 10 yrs old?
June 19, 2017 2:50 PM   Subscribe

What would've helped you to hear an adult speaker talk about at your "graduation" before summer and moving on to middle school? What do I say "inspirationally" to our departing 5th graders at there goodbye celebration?

One of the parent volunteers, planning our fifth grade celebration (celebrating and honoring a milestone as the group moves on to middle school 6,7,8thgrades), put me on the slate to speak. A wonderful and amazing former student graduating 12th grade from a prestigious academy is speaking before me.

I am not sure what is really expected of me... but I would prefer to not waste people's time/attention. What would have helped you to hear at 10ish yrs old? What should I say to these kids that isn't covered in " Oh, The Places You'll Go" by Dr.Seuss ? I am not adverse to just reading something either.
posted by slothhog to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Keep it short and sweet. Maybe remind them that middle school will be hard but it's important to be kind to themselves and each other? That's what I needed to hear when I was that age, anyways!
posted by lucy.jakobs at 3:04 PM on June 19 [8 favorites]

Okay I've given a lot of graduation speeches to younger audiences and while this requires a bit of personal flair, it's always a winner. You say something about how their parents and families and teachers have supported them and helped them along and are really proud of them, blah blah blah, and you can always count on us and them for anything you need, "because you know, sometimes in our lives, we all have pain. We all have sorrow. But -- if you are wise, you'll know that there's ... (start singing) always tomorrow. Lean on me! EVERYBODY! (parents in the audience all laugh and start singing along, also lead clapping) When you're not strong! And I'll be your friend! I'll help you carry on! For, it won't be long, and I'm gonna need, somebody to lean on." You can do the chorus a second time if it feels right with the enthusiasm level. Then to signal we're done singing I always go "WOOOOO!" and start applauding. After everyone applauds for a bit I add, "Congratulations class of 2017!"

You have to deliver the first part like you're just thinking of it then and people will only just be picking up on what you're doing when you start singing. You have to be confident enough to sing like a dork but every time I've ever done it, the whole audience has joined in. And all the time I'll be in the checkout line at the grocery store or buying a ticket at the movie theater or greeting a political canvasser who goes, "Hey! You spoke at my graduation four years ago!" It's memorable and everybody loves it.

(If you have live musicians at the graduation, you can tip them in advance and they can usually jump in with some chords.)

PS, I don't sing particularly well, I'm just enthusiastic.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:14 PM on June 19 [30 favorites]

OMG do what Eyebrows McGee said. That's way better than my idea.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 3:22 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

With all due respect, Eyebrows McGee's option would have *totally* stressed me out as a weird shy nerd kid, and what I would have wanted to hear would be some words of affirmation for weirdo kids, queer kids, disabled kids, kids who are going through some shit. That is a really tough age and one when we don't usually have much in the way of emotional resources yet to talk about and process things, so I know that seeing myself acknowledged always really really helped.
posted by ITheCosmos at 3:55 PM on June 19 [13 favorites]

OMG do what Eyebrows McGee said. That's way better than my idea.

Clinches it. I wanna be a McGee!
posted by jgirl at 4:19 PM on June 19

Hi, sorry for threadsitting.
Eyebrows- I love it and will keep it in my backpocket for something else =].
I think the person who wants me to do this wants me to tell my rags to riches words of wisdom (chortles) but really I can only claim escaping chaos/negligence to my own independence navigating life. How do I convey simply to kids (we speak 27 languages at our school) that life is work and the work is different for everybody?
posted by slothhog at 4:27 PM on June 19

How about, "Life is work, and the work is different for everybody? For example" and three different and simple examples. Just a thought.

My biggest problem in life has been understanding that I can do hard things and that being forced, as an adult, to do things I don't want to do is not a punishment or personal but just how life works. But I'm not sure that's something to tell 10 year olds. Would have appreciating hearing it earlier, though.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:47 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I'm a really linear thinker, I guess. I think my message would be things get harder, but they also get more interesting, illustrated as best can with experiences of kids of their age.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:19 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]

When I talk to groups of kids I always emphasize what I would have wanted to hear at that age. I didn't relate to the kids at my school due to about 15 reasons. I'd say:

Most of you are 10 or 11 years old. At your age, you mostly meet people because other people made it happen- your parents picked a neighbourhood so you got placed in a school and that's where your friends were. You went to a certain activity or camp and the people there became your friends. So all the friends you make at this age come from other people's decisions.

The older you get, the more intentional and deliberate your friend-finding will become. In middle school you can choose an elective and might meet people with similar interests. Your highschool will be bigger and you can find more people you feel connected to. Post-secondary- even more people to choose from. If you want to meet new people, more and more, YOU get to make it happen. By the time you reach adulthood: you can do whatever you want! Travel, move, switch jobs, switch neighbourhoods.

So. Right now: if you feel like you've already found Your People, then your job as you grow is to keep in touch with them and cherish those friendships... while you keep growing and meeting even more people.

And right now: if you don't feel like you've quite found Your People.... yet... be patient and keep looking. Your People are out there, and the older you get, the easier it is to find them. The older you get, the more control you get to have over your own happiness. It's well worth the wait!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:32 PM on June 19 [19 favorites]

I have a very favourite advice video for just about that age group, right here. I don't think kids lack big dreams or even big hearts. I do think they lack foresight and this video puts it so nicely.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:32 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I find myself thinking of Matt Stone's "you'll just die poor and lonely" joke from Bowling for Columbine. Up until middle school, most kids are put more-or-less on the same track. We all take basically the same classes at basically the same speed.

And then in 6th grade, we start getting shuffled into different levels, often really arbitrarily and carelessly. And it's always tinged with this message of, "Don't mess this [placement test or whatever it is] up! It'll affect the rest of your life."

At that age, I wish I'd have heard an adult I respect say that no, it won't affect the rest of your life. That you should explore, take classes you might not ace, and take some risks in figuring out what you really enjoy.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:46 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]

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