A successful middle school program recognizes the need to pair a rigorous academic program with developmentally-appropriate practices that facilitate social and emotional growth. The best middle schools promote a positive youth development framework, in which young students are given opportunities to enhance their skills, interests, and abilities while building healthy relationships with their peers and mentors. Five key features necessary for a healthy and stimulating middle school environment are:
- Supportive adult relationships
- Growth mindset
- A challenging liberal arts curriculum
- Mindfulness practice
- Social-emotional learning
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