Social Emotional Learning

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Social and Emotional Development in Early Adolescence: Tapping into the Power of Relationships and Mentoring

This guide focuses specifically on relationship-based strategies for young adolescents in the middle grades. Young adolescence is a time of tremendous social and emotional growth, yet research and interventions specific to this unique developmental stage are sparse compared to those focusing on the elementary grades. Identifying specific mentoring and relationship-based strategies that promote social and emotional learning (SEL) for students in the middle grades will ensure that students receive the necessary supports to maximize their potential and lay the foundation for healthy development and relationships as they grow, increasing their chances of future academic, career, and life success. This document includes a review of research related to SEL and relationships, as well as case studies of programs that combine SEL and mentoring practices. It also features recommendations for practitioners, researchers, policy-makers, and funders.



This guide was made possible by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. It was enriched by the generous contributions of the following partners, who provided critical framing, feedback, research and information that shaped this guide to ensure its accuracy, relevance and effectiveness. Special thanks to the members of the Citizen Schools Middle School Youth Focus Group.