Tending the Spark

Lighting the Future for Middle School Students

By Betty Staley   |   Waldorf Publications   |   2019

This book guides the reader through the middle-school years, focusing on the effects of early puberty and later emotional and psychological development. Through findings from neuroscience and insight from Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf school movement, we can guide youngsters through this time, find the spark, and help encourage it to the flame of enthusiasm. Examples are given of how to balance the influences of technology, consumerism, and intellectual cynicism to help middle-schoolers reach the goodness, beauty, and truth that lives within each one.

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Tending the Spark should be required reading for anyone who has found a calling in teaching and nurturing the middle school child. Adolescence – easily the most dynamic period of life that we experience – can be bewildering to the early teen as well as parents, teachers, and others involved in their lives. Betty Staley draws upon her life-long passion and experience along with the well-researched work of many scholars to address the needs of the vulnerable teen in the early 21st century. – Robert W. Bonar, MD FAAP, Retired Adolescent Medicine Specialist

Like a seasoned ship’s captain, Betty Staley guides the reader through the waters of the middle school years. Knowledge of prevailing currents, insights into hazards along the way, and advice for charting a thoughtful course make Tending the Spark a must-have for parents and teachers. – Marianne Gray, Class teacher, Sacramento Waldorf School

Betty Staley brings to light what is relevant about human development during the middle school years . . . She embraces the middle school years with flare, sharing wisdom, experience, intellect, humor and personal stories to remind the reader that the struggles of adolescents ignite the flames of adulthood. Ever wonder, “What were they thinking?” in reference to an adolescent? Staley answers in Tending the spark. Educational research,  neuroscience and child development intersect with current societal demands to illuminate the impact on today’s youth. – Mechelle Horning, M.A. Principal, Alice Birney Waldorf Public School K-8

. . . I find that the most meaningful influence anyone can have on a child is rooted in a relationship founded in deeper understanding of human development. . .  Tending the Spark offers critical perspective into an often misunderstood and sometimes underestimated period of intense social, emotional, physical, biological, and spiritual growth. . . As a practicing clinician, I find Betty’s book, like many of her others, to be a source of ongoing reference. Tending the Spark gives practical educational and parenting advice rooted in the “why” of middle-childhood development. – Jeff Lough, MS, Nationally Certified School Psychologist