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Young Adolescents. Who are they and how do we teach them?. “In no other stage of the life cycle, are the promises of finding oneself and the threat of losing oneself so closely allied.” -Erik Erikson.

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young adolescents

Young Adolescents

Who are they and how do we teach them?

“In no other stage of the life cycle, are the promises of finding oneself and the threat of losing oneself so closely allied.”

-Erik Erikson

“Young adolescents are at one moment coordinated and awkward, shy and aggressive, attentive and distracted, astute and absentminded.”

- M.A. James

john hill s framework for understanding early adolescence
John Hill’s Framework for Understanding Early Adolescence
  • Primary Changes
    • Biological Changes
    • Psychological Changes
    • Changes in Social Definition
  • Secondary Changes – Psychosocial
      • Attachment
      • Autonomy
      • Sexuality
      • Intimacy
      • Achievement
      • Identity
  • Settings
      • Family
      • Peer
      • School
young adolescence is marked by
Young Adolescence is marked by:
  • Profound and rapid changes
  • Tremendous variability
  • Changes occur irregularly
  • Race, poverty, or ethnicity may play a vital role
  • Areas of development are intertwined
  • Growing and changing thinking capacity
  • Developing sexual awareness
  • Appearance and body image issues
  • Peer acceptance becomes important
  • Burgeoning moral development
characteristics of young adolescents
Characteristics of Young Adolescents:

Physical Development

Cognitive-Intellectual Development

Wide range of intellectual development

Transition from concrete to abstract thinking


Prefer active learning experiences

Enjoy interaction during learning experiences

Excel with real-life learning

Begin to develop intra-personal intelligence

Keen observers of adults

  • Rapid, irregular growth
  • Awkward, uncoordinated movement
  • Restlessness and fatigue
  • Need to release energy
  • Appearance of secondary sex characteristics
  • Bodily changes magnified in comparison
  • Physically vulnerable
characteristics of young adolescents1
Characteristics of Young Adolescents:

Moral Development

Psychological Development


Fluctuation of self-esteem levels

Self-conscious and highly sensitive

Psychologically vulnerable

Develop traditional sex-role behaviors

Desire recognition for their positive behavior and achievements

  • Transition from self-centered reasoning to other or principle oriented reasoning
  • Idealistic – want to make the world a better place
  • See “shades of gray” in issues
  • Quick to see others’ flaws
  • Influenced by adults with whom they have interaction
characteristics of young adolescents2
Characteristics of Young Adolescents:

Social-Emotional Development

  • Strong need for approval
  • Concerned about peer acceptance
  • Overreact
  • Follow fads
  • Need alone time
  • Experiment with new behaviors and identities
  • Mood swings
  • Exhibit immature behavior
  • Socially vulnerable
educational implications
Cross content area thematic units
  • Exploratory coursed
  • Teaching approaches that embrace their diversity
  • Assessment and evaluation that promote learning
  • Interdisciplinary teams that support meaningful relationships
  • Health, wellness and safety policies
  • Guidance and support services
Educational Implications

Create a safe, supportive educational environment

Active engagement of students and teachers

Establish mentoring/advisorship programs

School-Family connection

Relevant, challenging curriculum

Your Subtopics Go Here

To change the world, teach a young adolescent.

- National Middle School Association