Middle School Age is a Critical Time For Future Success


Actual photos from 2014 camp

Actual photos from 2014 camp

Middle School is a Critical Juncture

  • What happens to middle school brains?

  • How can learning experiences make or break students' interests in learning?

If your child is in middle school, you have a “tween” in your family. Children ages 10-13 are what psychologists define as the developmental age between child and teen. Journalist Linda Perlstein writes, these are youngsters whose “bodies and psyches morph through the most radical changes since infancy, leaving them torn between anxiety and ardor, dependence and autonomy, conformity and rebellion.” 

While decisions on career tracks are next steps among high school students, increasing studies show that students that know and explore their passions in middle school achieve earlier success in their future careers. It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds that get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

While increasing research points to “passions” as the wellsprings of inspiration and perseverance, ultimately leading to success, middle school students grapple with their disconnected experiences with school education.

Cheri Pierson Yecke, authored a study of middle schools in America called Mayhem in the Middle. She says American middle schools have become the places where academic achievement goes to die.

Former Louisiana superintendent Cecil Pickard explains how, Middle school is the Bermuda triangle of education. Hormones are flying all over the place. An article in the Toronto Star, based on Middle School research in Canada describes how Middle School is suspended between childhood and the adult world, pre-teens have been called the toughest to teach.

So why do we at Young Outliers offer summer learning studios that engage analytical and inventive thinking and participation in creative activities such as writing science fiction stories? Why do we offer Scratch-programming classes?

We offer middle school students active, inspiring, and socially interactive learning activities. While most middle school students find writing boring, our campers produce pages and pages of insightful and creative science fiction stories. The impact of our camps is pretty striking and impressive.  

While campers are busy having fun, they develop valuable skills Things like leadership, teamwork, confidence, entrepreneurship, and a sunny side-up approach to any challenge.

Most importantly, our camps ignite connections with the campers and engage them in exploring their passions. 

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