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The Middle School Moment

The Middle School Moment

Middle school is sometimes great! It is like when you’re in the middle of a great movie…what will happen next?  Sometimes it’s not, like when you’re in the middle seat on a long car ride!

The middle school years is a time of HUGE physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. 

During the middle school years, individuals start undertaking tasks to successfully transition to adulthood:

  • Adjusting to maturing bodies and feelings
  • Developing and applying abstract thinking skills
  • Developing and applying new perspectives on human relationships
  • Developing and applying coping skills in areas such as decision making, problem solving and conflict resolution
  • Identifying meaningful moral standards, values and belief systems
  • Understanding and expressing more complex emotional experiences
  • Forming friendships that are mutual, close and supportive
  • Establishing key aspects of identity
  • Meeting the demands of increasingly mature roles and responsibilities
  • Renegotiating relationships with adults in parenting roles

What can we do to help with this moment of life?

  • Empathize and Connect
    • Offer support and acceptance while affirming the middle schooler’s increasing maturity.
  • Monitor and Observe
    • Let middle schoolers know you are paying attention.
  • Guide and Limit
    • Uphold clear boundaries while encouraging increased competence.
  • Model and Consult
    • Provide continual support for decision making, teaching by example and ongoing dialogue.
  • Provide and Advocate
    • Provide a supportive environment (at home and school) and a network of caring adults. 


  • Simpson, A. (2010). [online] Raising Teens. Available at: http://hrweb.mit.edu/worklife/raising-teens/index.html [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age). [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/middle2.html [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Middle Childhood (12-15 years of age). [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/adolescence.html [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
  • Caskey, M. and Anfara, V. (2018). Developmental Characteristics of Young Adolescents. [online] Association for Middle Level Educators. Available at: https://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/MiddleSchoolConcept/MSCDet/TabId/193/ArtMID/817/ArticleID/455/Developmental-Characteristics-of-Young-Adolescents.aspx [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
  • Armstrong, T. (2006). Best Schools. [online] ASCD.org. Available at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/106044/chapters/Middle-Schools@-Social,-Emotional,-and-Metacognitive-Growth.aspx [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
  • This American Life. (2011). Middle School. [online] Available at: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/449/middle-school [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
  • Cult of Pedagogy. (2014). 8 Things I Know for Sure About (Most) Middle School Kids. [online] Available at: https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/middle-school-kids/ [Accessed 16 Jul. 2018].
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