Middle Childhood Flix Fix
I teach child development, which covers birth through adolescence. Typically, people who teach child development specialize in a specific age range. For me, that is early childhood because I came to the field through being a preschool teacher, and most of my research has been in preschool classrooms. I love 3- to 5-year-olds because they can be amazingly verbal; completely illogical one moment, and more logical than most adults the next; and you don't have to guess what they're thinking or feeling...it's all out there, plain as day.
School-aged kids, though, they're another ball 'o wax. And about three years ago, I began teaching an upper division course on middle childhood, which spans 6- to 12-years-old. I don't have as much experience here, though when I first began teaching preschool, I was also a substitute teacher for an after-school program at the Ventura YMCA where I mostly worked with kindergarteners and 1st graders. And in my last year in the doctoral program at UT, I supervised undergraduates as they did field experience in K-3rd grade classrooms in three elementary schools. I don't have as many firsthand experiences to draw from, though, so I've found that since I started teaching the course, in addition to reading whatever I can find about school-aged kids, I also tend to be drawn to movies with children that age in them.
I even use some of them in class. For instance, my students watch the movie "Billy Elliot" and write a paper in which they analyze 11-year-old Billy's life for middle childhood developmental concepts.
Great movie (here's a trailer if you're not familiar), and I'll be reading this semester's batch of papers soon.
Though I wouldn't use it for the same type of paper, "Stand by Me" definitely has good middle childhood themes in it.
When I get around to using some clips from it, the "cool factor" is evident, as I'm able to tell my students that my high school principal's brother co-wrote the screenplay and was nominated for an Oscar for it. True story. Great flick, as you'll see in this trailer. (And many of my students watch "The Big Bang Theory," so they'll likely get a kick out of the fact that Wil Wheaton is there on the left.)
I'm not sure why this movie wasn't more popular in the U.S., but it's another great one with a school-aged child as the main character: "Millions." The trailer will give you a little taste.
I absolutely love that Damian, the main character, has an incredibly vivid imagination. He is not only obsessed with learning all he can about all of the Catholic saints, but imagines that he has conversations with them...including female saints that smoke like truckers.
And I found this one just a few weeks ago, a film from Japan called "I Wish."
The main character is one of two brothers whose parents have recently split, and he lives with his mom and grandparents, while his little brother lives with his dad in another city. He longs to bring their family back together, and hears from a schoolmate that, if you make a wish at the exact moment that two new super-trains pass each other going opposite directions, it will come true. He enlists the help of his brother and their friends to make this happen, and it's hilarious and heart-warming all at the same time.
One of my current students is from Japan, and she had not heard of the movie, and I recommended it (see trailer here). She watched it (loved it, too), and said that the two boys in it are actually brothers, and are very popular in Japan. When I get around to using clips -- or even the entire movie when I get tired of "Billy Elliot" -- that will work for "cool factor."
Always helps to have that.