3: Middle Childhood
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Middle childhood is the period of life that begins when children enter school and lasts until they reach adolescence. Think for a moment about children this age that you may know. What are their lives like? What kinds of concerns do they express and with what kinds of activities are their days filled? If it were possible, would you want to return to this period of life? Why or why not? Early childhood and adolescence seem to get much more attention than middle childhood. Perhaps this is because growth patterns slow at this time, the id becomes hidden during the latent stage, according to Freud, and children spend much more time in schools, with friends, and in structured activities. It may be easy for parents to lose track of their children’s development unless they stay directly involved in these worlds. I think it is important to stop and give full attention to middle childhood to stay in touch with these children and to take notice of the varied influences on their lives in a larger world.
- 3.1: Introduction to Middle Childhood
- Middle childhood is the period of life that begins when children enter school and lasts until they reach adolescence. Growth patterns slow at this time, the id becomes hidden during the latent stage, according to Freud, and children spend much more time in schools, with friends, and in structured activities. It may be easy for parents to lose track of their children’s development unless they stay directly involved in these worlds.
- 3.2: Physical Development
- Children tend to slim down and gain muscle strength and lung capacity during middle childhood, making it possible to engage in strenuous physical activity for long periods of time. The brain reaches its adult size at about age 7 so the school-aged child is better able to plan, coordinate activity using both left and right hemispheres of the brain, and to control emotional outbursts.
- 3.3: Cognitive Development
- From ages 7 to 11, the school-aged child is in what Piaget referred to as the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. The child can use logic to solve problems tied to their own direct experience but has trouble solving hypothetical problems or considering more abstract problems. The child uses inductive reasoning which means thinking that the world reflects one’s own personal experience.
- 3.4: Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development
- Kohlberg called a self-centered approach to moral decision-making pre-conventional moral development. Conventional moral development referred to being able to determine right from wrong based on what other people think. Post-conventional moral development is based on a concern for others; for society as a whole or for an ethical standard rather than a legal standard.
- 3.5: Developmental Problems
- Children’s cognitive and social skills are evaluated as they enter and progress through school. Evaluation and diagnosis of a child can be the first step in helping to provide that child with the type of instruction and resources needed. It is important to consider that children can be misdiagnosed and that once a child has received a diagnostic label, the child, teachers, and family members may tend to interpret actions of the child through that label.
- 3.6: Learning and Intelligence - Schools and Testing
- Intelligence tests and psychological definitions of intelligence have been heavily criticized since the 1970s for being biased in favor of Anglo-American, middle-class respondents and for being inadequate tools for measuring non-academic types of intelligence or talent. Achievement tests are used to measure what a child has already learned. Aptitude tests are designed to measure a student’s ability to learn or to determine if a person has potential in a particular program.
- 3.7: Psychosocial Development
- Children in middle childhood have a more realistic sense of self than do those in early childhood. Contemporary children also receive messages from the media about how they should look and act. According to Erikson, children in middle childhood are very busy or industrious. They are constantly doing, planning, playing, getting together with friends, achieving. This is a very active time and a time when they are gaining a sense of how they measure up when compared with friends.