Considerations for Child Development – Middle Childhood Essay
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Physical development is concerned with the biological changes of the body and the brain. It includes genetics, a foetus’s growth in the mother’s womb, the birth process, brain development and the acquisition of fine motor skills; it also encompasses behaviours that promote and impede health and environmental factors that influence physical growth. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 5). I have chosen to evaluate the physical developmental stage of middle childhood, children the ages of six to ten years of age.
This essay discusses the considerations for physical development and how it can be supported in the learning environment.
It will look at motor development and its influences, the benefits of physical activity, and the consequences of inactivity. How a student’s physical development can facilitate or restrict development in other areas, and how we can support the physical needs and development of students.
Generally, children will develop their motor skills at them same time in life, however there are other factors that influence this development e. . a child’s environmental influences, (nurture) and also inherited characteristics and tendencies (nature). There are many things a teacher can do to facilitate a student’s basic cognitive process, they can help children pay attention to things that are important for them to remember; e. g. completing homework tasks, throwing litter in the bin, raising their hand and waiting before they speak in class. Introducing new information to the students existing knowledge will help them to continue to improve and learn.
In middle childhood, children start to improve further on their fine motor skills, their handwriting becomes smaller, smoother and more consistent, and they will also start to participate in such fine motor activities as sewing, model building and arts and crafts projects. They will also intensify their speed, and coordination in running kicking, catching and dribbling. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 161) In the case of infants and young children, teachers should try to provide a variety of sensory experiences, to facilitate a student’s motor development.
It is very important to gain a balance of physical activity as well as class room work for a healthy all round child of this age group. Regular physical activity can benefit students by actually increasing their attention to more cognitively demanding tasks (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 172), in most cases if a child has a chance to be active and move around, they may be better able to prepare and settle into their theory work. Sport is another way that physical activity can benefit children. During Middle Childhood children begin to be more interested and start to excel in sport and athletics.
Both organised and individual sports can be a good way to help maintain and enhance a child’s physical strength, endurance and agility. It can also promote social development by fostering communication, cooperation, and leadership skills (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 171). ‘The reality is that appearance is influential in social relationships, and it does affect how children feel about themselves’ (Chu, 2000; Dohnt & Tiggermann, 2006b; Harter, 1999. ). Regular physical activity can help improve a child’s fitness, and help to maintain their weight and physical appearance, therefore making them feel better about themselves.
Prolonged inactivity can result in weight gain, therefore effecting a student’s social emotional development. Being overweight or obese is a serious health risk in childhood. It predicts health problems in adulthood (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 189). Prolonged inactivity can cause lack of motivation and a decline in a child’s self-confidence. This is particularly important as during Middle Childhood, children start to develop friendships and internalise many of society’s rules and prohibitions (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 29).
If a child fails to be physically active on a regular basis, e. g. staying indoors and watching television or playing computer games all day, it can restrict them from being social and forming important relationships and friendships. Prolonged physical inactivity can also affect a child’s concentration and participation during learning tasks. Over a period of time this could result in poor academic results. During middle childhood, children place great emphasis on the development of their own physical ability (parenting and child health, “http:/www. cyh. com/HealthTopics”).
It is important as a teacher to try to focus on a student’s individual needs, encourage them to compete against themselves rather than their peers; this will help promote good self-confidence and will have an all-round good effect on other areas of their development. The rate of development differs considerably with differences partly the result of genetic diversity (nature), and partly a result of personal choices and environment (nurture) (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 176). If a child is brought up in an environment that promotes healthy eating and exercise they will generally be in better physical state of health.
Physical development can also promote social-emotional development by fostering communication; cooperation and leadership skills (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 171); this can affect the child by making them feel more confident, motivated and be better prepared to form social relationships. However, for a child who does not have regular access to a healthy diet and a safe place for physical activity, this can lead to weight gain and obesity therefore restricting their social-emotional development, lowering their self-esteem, motivation and restricting their ability to form social relationship and friendships.
A child’s motor skills can also be restricted by a lack of environmental support, if they are not provided with ample opportunity to practice their motor skills, whether it be through organised sport activities, or regular practice with mum or dad, they can fall behind on mastering these skills and allowing more complex skills to emerge (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 176). It is important for a child to have a good balance both in school and at home and in their community, with both learning and physical activities.
Physical activity is essential for children, you can help to facilitate this by being pro-active, trying to provide frequent opportunities for students to be physically active through the day, e. g. break up theory work with a few minutes of physical movement, this will help them to better concentrate on the next learning task. Aim to make exercise challenging, but enjoyable, change team members around frequently to ensure all students are equally participating and try to provide all children with a role.
Providing a safe environment and ensuring children use appropriate equipment for their age will help to minimise the risk of injury (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 185). In the case of a teacher having a student with special needs, providing they have permission, they should educate the other students on their condition and explain the nature of the disability; this will help the other children to be more accepting. There are many things a teacher can do to accommodate and support the physical needs and development of students.
It is important to encourage every child to participate in all activities to the fullest extent possible, in a practice called inclusion; children with special needs joined their non-disabled peers in everyday school activities (Logan, Alberto, Kana & Waylor-Bowen, 1994; Sailsbury, Evans, & Palombaro, 1997). Engaging with parents and guardians can help give a teacher insight and suggestions into any adjustments that would help the child participate more fully in activities (McDevitt &Ormrod, 2010, p. 185).
In middle childhood, children are increasingly comparing and often critical of themselves and their peers, a teacher should try to focus on and meet a student’s individual needs and aim for them to be competitive with themselves, rather than their peers e. g. aiming to beat their personal best score or time. This will help boost their confidence and give them a drive to do better next time. Thoughtful attention to children’s physical needs can enhance children’s health, well-being, and ability to focus on their schoolwork.
Such short-term effects pay dividends for future health, because good habits in childhood pave the way to health living later in life (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010, p. 186). It is always important for a teacher to pay such close attention to the children’s needs due to the fact that the impact of either class room learning or physical activity can both heavily shape their futures, or take from their quality of life in the future.
In summary, for the Middle Childhood developmental stage that has been selected for the purpose of this assignment, there are many considerations for physical development and how the physical needs of students in the learning environment can be accommodated. A teacher can promote self –esteem and self-confidence making and engage with parents and guardians in order to successfully aid the child.
Children can display a decline in self-confidence; this can be identified particularly in a child who does not have regular access to a healthy diet and a safe place for physical activity. It is therefore paramount to a child’s development that a teacher does actively encourage every child to participate in all activities to the fullest extent possible. It is in the best interest of the children for the teacher to incorporate a healthy balance of physical activity in with academic activity.