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The Middle School Moment

“I’ll be famous one day, but for now I’m stuck in middle school…” Diary of a Wimpy Kid

“In middle school, students are trying to figure out what they just became aware of.” Joanne Ackerman

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
  • Renegotating 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].