Making Sense

Building communities where children thrive
starts with understanding how they live.

We’re all working to ensure children in the middle years have the opportunity to thrive. We believe that doing this successfully starts with being fully informed–having a baseline to work from. How are our children doing right now, and how is this changing over time?

That’s why using a standardized measurement like the MDI–one that is sensitive to the complexity of the middle years period of development–can be a critical first step in your change efforts.

The resources on this page are designed to help those new to MDI better understand the tool, and useful for more seasoned participants to share with their staff, their kids and families, and their own community.

The Essentials

The MDI lets children tell us about their own lives.

The MDI is a voluntary survey that asks children in Grade 4 and Grade 7 about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in school and in the community. The population-level data the MDI collects helps us all–researchers, educators, parents, and policy-makers–better understand the factors that promote well-being in middle childhood.


The MDI looks at the whole child,
inside and out.

Middle Childhood is a time of enormous physical, emotional, and cognitive growth, accompanied by changes in relationships and environments. The MDI is designed to elicit a full picture of well-being by asking about five key dimensions: Social-Emotional Development, Physical Health & Well-Being, Connectedness, After-School Time, and School Experiences.

MDI data is meant to be used and shared by everyone.

Our team at HELP produce reports with rich visualizations and maps to help schools and communities see variations in children’s well-being across geographies and over time. We also conduct our own research using MDI data to advance our global understanding of well-being in the middle years.


MDI Shorts:
An introduction to the building blocks of well-being

Additional Resources