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Child development in the Middle Years

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Introduction

´╗┐Is it true that children?s development from the ages of five to eleven is relatively unexciting, at least in comparison with the more dramatic changes of the early years or of adolescence and is, therefore, relatively unimportant? Child development in brief There is growing appreciation in policy, research, and educational practice that early and middle childhood, provide the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional foundations for lifelong health, learning, and well-being (Cooper, 2005). Bukatko & Daehler (2004, p.10) illustrates the general modern view of childhood: Contemporary society views childhood as a separate, distinct, and unique period, a special time when individuals are to be protected, nurtured, loved, and kept free of most adult responsibilities and obligations. The three stages of child development are represented by the specific age criteria, commonly known as: Early years, Middle Childhood, and Adolescence. Each stage is organised around the primary tasks of development for that period. Early childhood, usually defined as Birth to age four, is a time of remarkable physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Within schools there are Early Year strategies, and special provisions, as well as specially trained Early Years Practitioners. Middle childhood, usually defined as age five to eleven, is a time when children develop skills for building healthy social relationships and learn roles that will lay ground work for a lifetime. The exact developmental stages will be discussed in more detail further on. Adolescence, usually defined as age twelve plus, is the period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child in to an adult. Some changes within cognitive development show profounder moral thinking, as well as a mounting ability for abstract thought. Social-emotional changes often include an insight into the thought that parents can be wrong which in turn leads to greater want of independence. ...read more.

Middle

If not tackled sufficiently and promptly, such children's attention difficulties can go on to result in considerable academic and social hindrances (Charlesworth, 2010). Memory Memory is used in a wide range of frameworks, socially and pedagogically. The power of a child?s memory is connected to the level of interest which they have in the subject or the commitment which they have to specific information recall. Long term memory and the use of memory strategies improve across middle childhood. Informal and formal learning in school will impact on the development of memory. As a result the importance of the link between the learning process in middle childhood and the outcomes of adulthood should be addressed (Zembar & Balter- Blume, 2009). Meta-cognition The term "meta-cognition" is descriptive of the way children become more aware of their own mental state in middle childhood, and paying attention to how to use this information when solving problems. For example, a child will now be starting to be aware of their ability to recognise whether they are progressing towards a specific target or goal. If they deem they are not progressing pleasingly, cognitive self-regulation skills will help the child to recognise that they are not happy with the approach they are using, and therefore will have to change tact in order to reach the desired target or goal (Zembar & Balter-Blume, 2009). Language Development Language development is a long process that begins form early years and progresses through middle childhood, and mostly continues through adolescence and adult life. During middle childhood, children start to perfect their understanding of word meaning, or semantic development. According to Vygotsky (1986), previous generations improve upon the system of symbolic representation of language. It provides the basis of symbols the child needs in order to understand their worlds (Daniels, 2005). ...read more.

Conclusion

Through middle childhood research has shown that a teacher will be the key to lasting reform and improvements (Daniels, 2005). However, an individual teacher will not be as influential in reinforcing successful development through middle childhood if they are alone; therefore collaborative support from others is crucial (Manning & Bucher, 2010). Parker (2009) states that a common assumption about children entering middle childhood is that as they are already moving towards adolescence they are ready to be treated as such. Looking at developmental theories can show that although children are progressing cognitively through middle childhood they are still developing an understanding of social situations and acceptability, and also that their understanding of vulnerability is still not matured. Research supporting the ideas that middle childhood is important and should be treated as such states that focus should be placed on the distinctive developmental features that children acquire and these must be adopted across middle childhood in order to support children?s academic, social, and emotional development (Jackson & Davies, 2000). Eccles (1999) agrees that middle childhood is important in guaranteeing a positive outcome of a child?s future. Some children can decline in development rather than broaden their knowledge and skills. Issues such as mental health and declining motivation can affect a child?s behaviour through middle childhood. A school needs to have a variety of opportunities for children to partake in to help strengthen the development of social relationships (Bosacki, 2008). If a school does not acknowledge or promote the importance of the development of social characteristics in middle childhood then relationships between the children and adults can be stressful and superficial. Children will learn not regard the adults as a source of emotional support and guidance. Total Word Count: 2999 Page | ...read more.

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