Young adolescents (age 10 to 15) are at a complex time in their lives emotionally and physically. They need educational programs that are designed specifically for their age group because of their uniqueness in terms of intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. The phenomenal growth that is occurring at this time of their lives presents unique challenges for educators. Also, this is a time of life when young people are forming values and making decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives. This is a most impressionable age, which places additional responsibility on middle grades educators¹.

This list of adolescent characteristics  appears in John H. Lounsbury’s “Understanding and Appreciating the Wonder Years” (National Middle School Association, 2000) and explains.

  • Early adolescence is a distinctive developmental stage of life.
  • The accelerated physical and personal development that occurs during this period is the greatest in the human life cycle and is marked by great variance in both the timing and rate of growth.
  • These are the years during which each individual forms his/her adult personality, basic values, and attitudes.
  • Adolescents reach physical maturity at an earlier age than their grandparents and they acquire apparent sophistication earlier than in previous generations.
  • They seek autonomy and independence.
  • They are by nature explorers, curious, thrill seekers and adventuresome.
  • They learn best through interaction and activity rather than by listening.
  • They seek interaction with adults and opportunities to engage in activities that have inherent value.
  • Their physical and social development become priorities.
  • They are sensitive, vulnerable, and emotional.
  • They are open to influence by the significant others in their lives.

Within Craigburn’s Middle School unit, we cater for the needs of our young adolescents through:

  • Bright and open classroom spaces with flexible and adaptable furniture
  • Highly collaborative teachers
  • Strong student-teacher relationships centred on trust, encouragement, support and honesty
  • Targeted maths and literacy intervention sessions to cater to the needs of all learners
  • Rotating specialised lessons in Science, Technology, HASS and Enterprise
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Student voice
  • Extra curricular opportunities

¹ Salyers, F. and McKee, C. The Young Adolescent Learner.