When I was in high school, I took two chemistry courses. The first was very elementary and didn't attempt to move beyond the picture of electrons, protons, and neutrons as little balls essentially. But in the second course I took (AP Chem), already confusion existed about waves vs particles and what exactly we mean by matter. And, in retrospect, I think jumping from thinking about localized particles to waves is hard because it turns out neither description is complete enough.
I recently started studying quantum field theory and I feel like quantum fields are a lot more intuitive than delving into the whole wave-particle duality hubbub. The idea that particles are excitations of a field seems far more natural because one can envision waves and particles as excitations. Anthony Zee's book Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell draws an analogy between quantum fields and mattresses. But the point is that I definitely think young people can imagine fields as easily as little balls. Yet there's a huge difference in how easily these initial intuitions allow you to navigate the physical sciences. For instance, the idea of quantum fields would naturally lead students to wonder about how classical fields work. Furthermore, for some particles, we can't define a wave function (eg photons). This becomes confusing because the wave function, at least to me, seem like the "thing" that told me how the states of a piece of elementary matter is evolving. But how can something evolve if it has no wave function?
I don't mean we have to throw out the idea of particles as little balls. The beauty of fields is that you can keep that description as a particular type of excitation. So it would complement all the tools and tricks chemists want young students to learn (eg Lewis dot structures) but give them a much clearer picture about the nature or what a particle is and ultimately I think provide a better backdrop for eventually delving deeper into the deeper questions about how quantum mechanics works exactly. This would probably help because, when they get to college, they wouldn't have to switch from an already engrained mindset. The one they would have would be more or less correct.
Maybe I am ignorant and missing something, but to me, although a bit bold, it might make more sense to introduce quantum fields earlier.