The junior high years - in Paideia's case the seventh and eighth grades - are perhaps the most difficult, challenging, and fascinating of one's life. Physical, intellectual, and emotional changes are rapid and intense at this age. Kids feel that they are no longer mere children, but while they're eager for the greater freedom and responsibility of teenage life, they're apprehensive, too, about the social conflicts and increased academic pressures that lie ahead.
Many education studies have singled out the junior high years as a critical turning point for the development of self-confidence, emotional stability, and positive attitudes toward school and life. The studies point out that American schools have not handled this turning point well, and that many of the problems of American high school students begin with problems not addressed in junior high.
“Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, one's parents age as much as 20 years.
This tumultuous, in-between age group has long been difficult for schools to handle. Aside from the emotional turmoil, there is a wide range in skills and maturity at this age. Within one class kids who can think and write at a high school or even college level sit side by side with others who are still fairly young intellectually. Even within individual kids there can be extreme fluctuations. To deal with all these competing factors, most studies have recommended smaller, more flexible schools, more individual attention and guidance from teachers, and more opportunities for self-reflection and self-expression.
For 35 years Paideia's junior high has been practicing these principles, and we've developed a program that we think is especially suited for dealing with the needs, concerns, and interests of early adolescents.