USJ’s Chair of Human Development and Family Studies Speaks on Watkinson Panel

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, Chair and Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies Patrick Nickoletti, Ph.D., participated in Watkinson School’s panel on “Middle School Years: Myths, Realities, and What a Parent Can Do,” held at the Children’s Museum in West Hartford. He spoke alongside neuropsychologist Gary Isenberg, Ph.D., and retired educator and middle school head Martha Brackeen-Harris.

Addressing an audience of parents, Dr. Nickoletti and his fellow panelists focused on on the special characteristics of middle school children, the challenges that they face, and how parents, educators, and school administrators can support them.

Middle-schoolers face a new world of opportunities and challenges, all while transitioning from the familiarity of elementary school to the more demanding world of unfamiliar teachers and peers, multiple classes, and significantly higher academic and social expectations, “ Dr. Nickoletti explained. “Adults are challenged by the considerable developmental differences at this age, the enormous stakes for cultivating development during this sensitive period, and the seemingly life-altering forces faced by young teens today, such as mental health, personal and school safety issues.”

Throughout the interactive evening, the panel shared their range of insights and advice, covering topics like how the brain works in early teens and how these changes manifest in identity and social abilities.

“Ultimately, concerned adults must recognize each middle-schooler as an individual, promote their strengths, help them identify and address their needs, and, finally, inspire them to seek well-being, understanding, and participation in our society,” said Dr. Nickoletti.

To learn more about the Human Development and Family Studies program at USJ, click here.