There is a curriculum containing general subject areas such as Math, Language Arts, Science – you know the drill. 

Completing regular homework, learning time management during these middle school years is when to home in on all of this.  

All the above is delivered to an ever-changing adolescent brain and body, one in the midst of undergoing exponential hormonal activity that is just getting underway. 

The frontal lobe (the part of the brain that directs one’s logical thinking, follow through, decision making) in a person between the ages of about 11 – 14 is literally turned to the “off” position at times during these years of development. 

Stop to consider that fact.  It explains much of the outlandish behavior many parents witness. 

Extreme biochemical changes take place during this time of life when a human body becomes sexually mature, able to reproduce.  That aspect of evolutionary development takes precedence.  Thus, the all-important frontal lobe functionality plays second fiddle.  

All this is to say that quality middle school education must take into consideration a unique set of circumstances at such a burgeoning time of life.

Most people unfortunately look upon their middle school years with dread rather than joy.

However, with so much at stake, it is advantageous to capture the potential of a person during this “in between” time of life.  Not yet an adult, and not quite out of childhood, but “in between”.   A young person who can play, be curious and wonder, along with levels of self-consciousness and insecurity all have a role. 

Empathy is something that also emerges and takes hold during this time of life.  Competence and confidence in oneself can thus be discovered through giving of oneself.

A middle school education done well endeavors to bring forth a person who will learn how to learn, to think for oneself.  It includes social and emotional expansion, making strides toward taking part in society in a meaningful way. This goes well beyond the “classes” at school. This is real life, with meaning and purpose.

How best to manage a young adolescent to make the very most of this time of such radical growth and change? 

Invite a level of self-responsibility within a safe and nurturing learning environment that both challenges and inspires. Take part in a variety of positive experiences, try new things, stretch beyond one’s comfort zone.  This is where real life and real growth happen. 


CELC Middle School is a unique experientially based middle school in Branford, CT, promoting learner-centered robust academics combined with out-of-the-classroom experiences, 5th – 8th grade (selected 4th-graders).

Since 2009, CELC continues to successfully address these critical and pivotal middle school years, allowing them to be transformational ones, leading to sturdiness and accomplishment in high school and beyond. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and problem solving are integral to CELC’s design and essential to achievement in the next-generation workforce.