9th September 2005 at 01:00
Tweens: what to expect from - and how to survive - your child's pre-teen years By Andrea Clifford-Poston Oneworld pound;8.99

Once, not so long ago, there weren't even teenagers. Now there are "tweens". Andrea Clifford-Poston suggests that the years between eight and 12 are a time for rehearsal, for trying out some of the attitudes and preferences that teens in waiting imagine will properly be theirs quite soon. Then, having had the try-out, they may well revert to childhood.

"Later in the afternoon Amy and Max's parents were amused to see Amy had shed her baseball cap and sunglasses. She and Max were racing around, roaring with laughter."

For teachers, Tweens is an excellent reminder of just what it's like to have a child in Years 4 to 7 living with you at home. The chapter "Keeping a head in school" offers a home-based insight into problems such as primary-secondary transfer and bullying. These are issues which deeply concern parents and yet which schools, perhaps amazingly, sometimes seem to want to keep to themselves. ("I wonder whether we should call the parents in?") There's implicit confirmation here, if we need it, that the role of schools is to provide for this age group some stability, space for the preoccupations of childhood, a touch of away-from-home secrecy, and bags of reassurance that everything's going to be OK. It really is, you know.

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