• Developmental Characteristics of Middle School Students

    Many thanks to the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD for this research!



    Developmental Characteristics

    of the Eleven Year Old

     

    PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

    •           vast appetite for food, physical activity, and talking

    •           growth spurt of early adolescence for some girls, may feel awkward and clumsy

    •           girls ahead of guys in physical maturity; boys’ big growth spurt may not start until 14; boys worry if they are ever going to grow

    •           wide differences among individuals in rate of development

    •            generally, girls as much as two years ahead of boys in physical maturity; boys’ big growth spurt may not start until 14; boys worry if they are ever going to grow

    •            curious about opposite sex’ girls usually interested first

    •            tiredness; need for more sleep

    •           often uncomfortable with questions and observations about how much they have grown and physical changes

    •            increased need for personal hygiene

     

    SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    •           less overt affection and attention shown to parents, with occasional rudeness; tests limits

    •            impulsive, unaware

    •           focus on self, alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept

    •           have tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed

    •            experience extremes of emotions

    •            inclusion/exclusion; height of cliques, seek to belong, discovery of telephone

    •            experimenting with behavior, roles, appearance, self-image

    •            difficulty with decisions but need to be able to make some choices for themselves

    •            demand privileges, but may avoid responsibilities

    •           feel unique; believe that no one else has ever felt the way they do; suffered so much, or been so misunderstood

     

    INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

    •           mostly interested in present, limited thoughts of the future

    •            intellectual interests expand

    •            increased ability to de-center and see world from various perspectives

    •            development of ideals and selection of role models

    •           may experiment with dangerous risk-taking behaviors

    •           even if students can make abstractions, they learn best when activities are active, hands-on, and related to personal experiences

    •            concerned with rules, standards of behavior and fairness, especially for themselves

    •           do not distinguish between wheat they are thinking and what others may be thinking; assume that every other person is as concerned with their behavior and appearance as they are

    •           better at planning than carrying out the plan

     

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    Developmental Characteristics

    of the Twelve Year Old

     

    PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

    •           high energy, but much rest needed

    •           growth spurts; girls ahead of boys; wide differences among individuals in rates of development

    •            physical activities and sports valued

    •           eating patterns change, overconcern for dieting

    •           feel awkward and may worry about body

    •            increased need for personal hygiene

     

    SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    •            struggle with sense of identity

    •            moodiness

    •           can be enthusiastic at some times; lethargic at other times

    •            friendships with both sexes are important

    •            complain that parents interfere with independence

    •           more likely to express feelings by actions than words

    •           peer vocabulary (slang) important

    •           less overt affection and attention shown to parents, with occasional rudeness; tests limits

    •            impulsive, unaware

    •            experience extremes of emotions

    •            inclusion/exclusion; height of cliques, seek to belong, discovery of telephone

    •            experimenting with behavior, roles, appearance, self-image

    •            difficulty with decisions but need to be able to make some choices for themselves

    •            demand privileges, but may avoid responsibilities

    •           feel unique; believe that no one else has ever felt the way they do; suffered so much, or been so misunderstood

     

    INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

    •            hormonal and physical demands of puberty may cause slowing of rate of cognitive development during early adolescence

    •           they show increased ability to think abstract in intellectual pursuits

    •           learn best when involved in activities that are active, hands-on, and related to real life

    •            concerned with rules, standards of behavior and fairness, especially for themselves

    •           lack of understanding of cause and effect as well as feelings of omnipotence and invulnerability (“It can’t happen to me.”) can lead to dangerous risk-taking behaviors--smoking, drugs, drinking, etc.

    •           mostly interested in present, limited thoughts of future

    •           may show emerging ability in a particular skill or content area

    •           show improved abilities to use speech for self-expression

    •           high interest in current events, politics, social justice; also pop culture, materialism

    •           more consistent evidence of conscience

    •            idealistic; may offer “ideal” solutions to complex problems

    •            development of ideals and selection of role models

    •           may question parents’ religious beliefs, political beliefs, and other values

     

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    Developmental Characteristics

    of the Thirteen Year Old

     

    PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

    •           wide differences in the rate of physical growth among individuals; girls 95% of mature height is average; boys - voice change; growth about a year behind girls

    •           skin problems emerging; hygiene a key issue

    •           eating patterns change

    •            uneven coordination

    •           worry about being normal, physically

    •           feel awkward about body

    •           most social/emotional/cognitive developments directly related to physical changes

     

    SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    •            concerned about physical attractiveness to others; the mirror is their best friend and worst enemy

    •            struggle with sense of identity:

                - concerned with physical appearance; focus on self

                - striving for independence; at home, like to be alone

                - desire to be honest can conflict with other pressures

    •            increased distractions from doing homework:

                - sports, dress, telephone, computer, video games

    •           music becoming a major preoccupation

    •           one word answers to adult questions (minimal feedback)

    •           feel unique, believing that no one has ever felt as they do, suffered so much, loved so deeply, or been so misunderstood

    •           peer relations/peer pressure (being “cool”):

                - moodiness, feelings easily hurt

                - confide in peers; minimal answers to parents and other adults

                - increased interest in opposite sex

                - humor highlighted by growth of sarcasm and put-downs

    •           parent relationships:

                - parents’ values important but also begin to question them

                - extreme language and volume in face of parental involvement

                - occasional rudeness; highly critical of parents

                - complain that parents interfere with independence

     

    INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

    •            hormonal/physical demands of puberty may slow intellectual growth

    •           short term thinking may predominate over long term planning

    •            abstract reasoning and “formal operations” begin to be functional in some thirteen year olds. Formal operational thinking begins to manifest itself in most people about the age of 12 and continues developing into adulthood with only approximately 35% reaching it by the end of high school.  In formal operational thinking, the person develops the capacity to make free use of hypothetical reasoning; learns to attack problems from the angle of all possible combinations of relations. Criteria indicating the presence of formal operations include the following:

                - ability to manipulate two or more variables at once

                - ability to demonstrate changes that come with time

                - ability to hypothesize about the logical consequences of events

                - ability to foresee the consequences of his/her actions

                - ability to detect the logical consistency within a statement

                - ability to reason contrary to fact

                - ability to think realistically about self, others, and their world

    - ability to think without egocentrism (thinks about the whole and not just self)

    •           not willing to take big learning risks (adolescent insecurity)

    •           like to challenge answers

    •            withdrawn and sensitive nature is protective of developing self-concept and intellectual ideas that are not fully formed yet

    •            tentative approach to difficult intellectual tasks; not willing to take big learning risks; this is usually caused the fears and self-consciousness of adolescence

    •           risk-taking behaviors spring from lack of cause-effect thinking; highest incidence of experimentation with drinking, drugs, smoking, etc. takes place between ages 12 and 16

    •            concerns with rules/fairness; idealistic

     

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    Developmental Characteristics

    of the Fourteen Year Old

     

    PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

    •           high energy and need for physical exercise and snacking

    •            generally healthy; want to be able to participate with peers

    •           girls: full development is nearly complete

    •           boys: growth spurt continues

    •           worry about being normal

    •           upper body strength begins to develop in boys

    •           feel awkward about body

     

    SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    •            concerned about physical attractiveness to others

    •           like to do as much as possible--cram as much into the day as they can

    •           more of their own adult personality evident

    •           loud

    •           close friendships gain importance

    •           search for new people to love in addition to parents

    •           show-off qualities

    •           rules and limits are tested

    •           feel unique. No one else has ever felt as they do, suffered so much, loved so deeply, or been so misunderstood.

    •           focus on self, alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept

    •           often embarrassed to be seen with parents; critical of parental dress, habits, friends, ideas

    •            struggle with a sense of identity

    •           peer group influences interests and clothing styles

    •            striving for independence and autonomy is greatly increased

    •            complain that parents interfere with independence; rules and limits are tested

    •           resent criticism and put-downs even though they use them themselves

     

    INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

    •            Developing formal operational thinking, but also thinks in concrete terms (only approximately 35% reach formal operational thinking before the end of high school). Criteria indicating the presence of formal operations include the following:

                - ability to demonstrate changes that come with time

                - ability to hypothesize about the logical consequences of events

                - ability to foresee consequences of his/her actions

                - ability to argue contrary to fact

                - ability to think realistically about self, others, and their world

    - ability to think without egocentrism (thinking about the whole and not just the self)

    •           learn best when actively involved with ideas connected to their personal lives

    •           learn well in cooperative groups

    •            respond well to academic variety and change

    •            interested in technology and how things work

    •           easily “bored”

    •            idealistic, offering “ideal” solutions to complex problems

    •           more consistent evidence of conscience

    •           often the greatest experimental, risk-taking time. Drinking, drugs, smoking and sexual experimentation of the highest interest to those between 12 and 16 years.

    •            undeveloped understanding of cause and effect as well as feelings of omnipotence and invulnerability (“It can’t happen to me.”) may lead to the inability to link behaviors to negative consequences--drinking to auto accidents, etc.

    •           do not distinguish between what others are thinking and what they are thinking themselves; assume every other person is as concerned with their behavior and appearance as they are

    •           want to try new things; but are often afraid because of fear and self-consciousness

    •           may question parents’ political beliefs, religious beliefs, and values

    •           have a longer attention span (up to 30 or 40 minutes) than younger children

    •           are better at planning than carrying out the plan
     
Last Modified on March 6, 2007