What is the Middle Phase of Learning?
During the Middle Phase of Learning, students begin to investigate the larger world beyond home and school and need to develop as autonomous learners.
Students in the Middle Phase of Learning have distinctive and diverse needs which stem from the very significant developmental changes in this period, as well as from a broad range of individual students' life circumstances, interests, skills and talents.
The Middle Phase of Learning typically occurs across Years 4-9 and falls into two distinct stages:
- The first stage involves the transition from the early foundational years. Students need to consolidate the foundations of literacy and numeracy that they gained in the early phase of learning and develop more sophisticated skills to enable further learning in each subject area. For many students this is a time of expanding curiosity and eager exploration of a broader and deeper range of learning experiences. For others, the challenges are daunting, their interest wanes and progress slows.
- The second stage is characterised by the demands of the intense physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of early adolescence. There is considerable diversity in how and when students move through this stage and in the impact on their attitude to and success in learning. Increasing literacy and numeracy skills and knowledge are the essential ingredients for learning in every subject and for effective communication and participation in adult life. It is essential to maintain students' interest and motivation and provide opportunities for them to "catch up" and make fresh starts when progress slows if they are to be ready for the senior phase of learning.
In Queensland state schools, student in Years 4 to 9:
- engage in purposeful, intellectually challenging learning that is connected to the real world and to their own experience
- are provided with opportunities to achieve success
- are inspired to keep learning and develop as successful independent learners
- are supported in their transition from year to year and from primary to secondary education
- interact with teachers who meet the distinctive and diverse needs of students during early adolescence.
Research shows that effective programs in the Middle Phase of Learning do not result specifically from structural change but from a school ethos that focuses on success for each student. This can occur in the full range of school settings:
- P-7 schools and 8-12 schools, working collaboratively
- P-10 and P-12 schools
- schools of distance education
- outdoor and environmental education centres
- special schools.
Tips for parents and students in the Middle Phase
Students in the Middle Phase of Learning are going through an unmatched period of cognitive, physical, social and emotional change and growth. They begin to think more broadly about issues beyond the home and family, and they want to engage in authentic, meaningful learning.
All young people need support and encouragement as they move from primary school to secondary school. You can help make this a positive experience.
Download a tip sheet:
Parents can contribute to improving their child's understanding and application of literacy and numeracy skills and increase their motivation to engage in learning throughout the Middle Phase.
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