Young adolescence is a pivotal time of physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. Middle school learners experience more development at this age than any other stage in their lives with the exception of infancy. The development of middle school learners profoundly impact their educational experience. Therefore, it's essential for middle school educators to acknowledge the unique characteristics of middle school learners in order to maximize their learning experience.
Middle school learners experience a wealth of physical changes. Although girls are often more physically advanced than boys, both boys and girls experience disproportionate bone and muscle growth that results in feelings of discomfort, awkwardness and restlessness. Students also experience frequent hormonal imbalances that lead to hunger, excitement or lethargy. When middle school educators are working with students, they should include a variety of activities that will appeal to their senses and keep them actively involved.
Middle school students have short-term memories as well as short attention spans. Consequently, students should be presented with limited amounts of new information, allowing them time to retain material. Teachers should also provide opportunities that will help to reinforce prior lessons and concepts. Middle school learners look for relationships between lessons and life, and they desire active involvement in learning. They will also begin to clarify their ideas and discuss thoughts with others. Although students can be argumentative and inquisitive, they do not have the ability to fully comprehend abstract ideas. Therefore, middle school teachers should assign activities that will help students develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Young adolescents generally desire more autonomy. However, students also crave social acceptance and interaction. Students will begin to interact with the opposite sex, but their same-sex relationships will supersede those with the opposite sex. During this time, middle school learners will challenge significant adults and educators by testing their limits. However, it's important for all adult family members and educators to continue expressing their love along with rules and expectations. Despite their behavior, middle school learners yearn for adult role models and guidance.
Middle school learners are usually self-conscious, persistently judging themselves by their physical appearance and development. Due to fluctuating moods, middle school students are easy to offend yet can be inconsiderate to others. In addition to this, middle school students often believe that their problems and experiences are unique to who they are. Despite adult interaction, students feel that adults can't possibly understand what teens are going through. Overall, middle school students seek to find out who they are as individuals.
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