Biologically, research supports that early adolescence is a time of growth and change second in sheer velocity only to infancy. The time between ten and fifteen years of age is a transitional period which involves not only visible external changes, but also internal ones. Outwardly visible changes in body size and weight are accompanied by internal changes such as hormonal fluctuations and sexual maturation.

Intellectually, research indicates that during the ages of ten to fifteen, students make a gradual, but dramatic, shift in their intellectual orientation. During the onset of adolescence, most students think in very concrete terms. Students are often unable to think abstractly. They are unable to hypothesize, conceptualize, or symbolize. In other words, they have difficulty considering situations which may be different from their personal observations, understanding complex interrelationships, and separating theory from reality. By the end of this period, most students are able to think in abstract terms.

Socially and emotionally, students are also beginning to develop concepts about themselves and their place in the world. The desire to fit in, please parents, peers and teachers, while attempting to incorporate the values of their family, church, friends, and community can be frustrating, confusing, and exhausting to students.

To further add to the dynamics of the situation, it must be remembered that during this transitional period, any one student or any class of students will display a wide range of biological, intellectual, social, and emotional maturities. Generally, this transitional period is between the ages of ten and fifteen; however, it will vary in length, beginning and ending earlier for some and later for others.

Against a backdrop of diverse and dramatic biological, intellectual, social and emotional changes, young adolescents are faced with challenges and threats unknown to their parents and grandparents. Young adolescents are asked to make fateful choices. The period of life from ten to fifteen years represents the best chance to choose a path toward a productive and fulfilling life or a path which never allows them to reach their full potential.

With good schools, supportive families, and a caring community, students can grow to adulthood meeting the requirements of the twenty-first century work place, the commitments to family and friends, and the responsibilities of citizenship.