Middle Years Education in Manitoba: Improving Student Engagement

Changes in Adolescence

Changes in Thinking and Understanding

The adolescent brain goes through many changes. Parents and teachers may notice that young adolescents show:

  • a greater interest in, and curiosity about, new knowledge and learning
  • a deeper understanding of abstract ideas
  • a preference for hands-on learning experiences
  • an ability to read and study independently for longer periods of time
  • a desire to see connections between learning at school and life outside school
  • improvement (with practice) in reading, writing and research skills
  • more frequent use of peer language and slang
  • a greater sense of humour and appreciation for jokes, puns and sarcasm
  • a desire to be challenged but not overwhelmed or defeated in learning
  • engagement in learning activities that feel grown-up, such as interviews, presentations,


    Students use their own questions and interests to guide their research and learning.

    and group work
  • an openness to giving and receiving feedback in their learning
  • appreciation for help from important and caring adults in their lives (ex: parents, teachers, religious leaders, coaches, neighbours) regarding concerns and questions about self-identity, drug use, sex, violence, family and world issues

“I try and talk to them often about what’s going on in their lives and I try to make sure they know they can talk to me about anything.”

~ Parent of Middle Years student

“There’s harder work, more work, and more is expected from all of us. But, I like a challenge.”

~ Middle Years student

“Middle Years students love to be challenged in their learning, but it's important that the challenges are within the students' reach, so they don't get discouraged and quit trying.”

~ Middle Years teacher