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Why is it so important for teachers to understand Child Development?

Fascinating Findings all about Child Development

Although all children develop in their own unique way as a direct result of both hereditary and environmental influences, there is a certain pattern of development that applies to nearly all children.

Human development is one of the biggest contributing factors to human behaviour. As children go through their different stages of life, they approach learning in different ways. When an educator has an intricate understanding of human development, they can use that understanding to make assessments about the behaviours of children in the classroom. This can be used to understand children who exhibit normal developmental 'acting-out' behaviours and for a small number of children you can take a step back and be reflective of their behaviours indicating that they may be at a different developmental stage of their lives from their peers (often due to their past experiences).

Fagus social and emotional developmental framework provides educators with an easy to understand synopsis of how children’s skills develop across thirteen emotional and social domain, supported by evidence-based research.    From this we have put together 13 teacher-friendly statements about children’s social and emotional development (one from each Fagus Developmental Guide) which gives you an introduction to child development and how surprising child development can be! Due to lack of time and space we have only homed in only one statement per domain, but we were spoilt for choice – there were just so many interesting items to choose from!

Fagus Developmental Domain Fascinating Statement
Fact No.1: Cognitive Development

 

 

Have you noticed a lull in creativity in children at 10-11 years?

Yes it really does happen! While a 5-year old's artwork tends to be uninhibited because they are in the 'pre-conventional' stage and unaware of social norms, by 10-11 years children are in the ‘conventional’ stage so start to appreciate social norms and this can lead to a dip  in creativity resulting in artwork that now depicts reality.

Fact No.2: Self-Esteem It’s important to recognise that self-esteem in children dips at certain childhood stages due to developmental processes

So we can support significant dips in children’s self-esteem it is important to understand when they occur:

Self-esteem may decline in 7-11 year olds due to having a more realistic self-understanding and balanced view of self-worth. Also at 11-14 years old self-esteem declines due to puberty, school transitions, increased concern regarding what others think and increased reflection.

Fact No.3: Self-Concept

 

 

 

Teenagers really do experience an ‘identity crisis’?

Yes they do! At 14-16 years adolescents can struggle  to understand opposing personal characteristics e.g. being extrovert with friends but shy with strangers. This leads to an ‘identity crisis’ and a search for the 'real me'. These contradictions do not pose a problem in early adolescence and is resolved by 19 years old due to cognitive advances. Knowing this we can help young people through this difficult stage.

Fact No. 4: Awareness and Understanding of Others

 

Children after the age of 8 are more likely to try and ‘fit in’ with their peers.

Yes this is a fact! Children's Understanding of Others improves as they get older due to the development of 'Theory of Mind' (ToM)). With increased ToM, at 8 years old a child may think peers see them negatively if they don't follow social norms. From this age they find ways to 'fit in' to be socially accepted by their peers

Fact No. 5: Moral Development

 

Believe it or not a child at four years old may still perform an action if it is beneficial to themselves but involves 'harming' another person!

This has been observed from a hypothetical experiment when a 4 year old child observes the 'Victimiser Situation' - a scenario in which person A (the Victimiser) performs an action which is beneficial to themselves but involves harming person B ( e.g. pushing a child off the swing to get a go). Often a 4 year old child still reports that the 'Victimiser' feels happy and doesn't consider the harm caused to the ‘Victim’ (person B) and associated negative feelings (e.g. shame). 

Fact No. 6: Motivation and Self-efficacy:

 

Academic motivation can decrease when there is a mismatch between the developmental needs of an adolescent and the educational environment (and this often occurs at the time children transition from primary to secondary school. This is because adolescents:

Have an increased desire to become more autonomous.

Become more self-focused while having increased cognitive capacity.

Have an increased desire to develop and maintain relationships with their peers.

Experience changes in classroom set up, which include higher levels of teacher control, more public displays of grades, friendship disruption and less personal teacher/pupil relationships.

No. 7: Socialisation
 
Want to help children facilitate friendships? We need to understand that as children get older the reason for choosing certain friends change.

At 4-7 years a child will make friends with others that show desirable behaviours. At 8-10 years friendships are based on trust and they will consider others personality traits of others, but by 11 years friends are based on bringing psychological benefits eg. having similar interests, making you happy and displaying signs of loyalty. Companionship  alone is no longer sufficient.

No. 8: Play

 

Is rough and tumble play a sign of aggression in boys?

The answer to this is  normally no! If you carefully observe boys in rough and tumble play they often do not intend to hurt each other and this can be observed by using open hands movements and having a relaxed facial expression. Rough and tumble play at this age is used to establish leadership and dominance and does not necessarily indicate aggression.

Fact No. 9: Attachment Data from Developed Countries indicates that only 60% of children are SECURELY ATTACHED. Is this True or False?

Sadly this is True and means that 40% of children in Developed Countries are INSECURELY ATTACHED, which can lead to  disrupted relationships, cognitive delays and impaired emotional regulation. Interestingly the strongest predictor that a child will be insecurely attached is having a parent that is insecurely attached. It’s about time we broke the cycle and provided the appropriate support for EVERYBODY!

Fact No. 10: Coping

 

Are there really gender differences when selecting coping strategies in adolescents?  

Yes! The choice of coping strategies that adolescent girls and boys choose can be quite different and live up to the stereotypes! Adolescent girls tend to use self-soothing strategies (like taking a bath) & relying on social support, while adolescent boys use physical (walloping a punch bag!) and avoidant strategies (deny a problem exists).

Fact No. 11: Self-Control

 

Believe it or not it has been shown that higher level of self-discipline in adolescents has a bigger effect on academic performance than intellectual ability.

With this in mind teachers should help increase a child’s self-control by ‘scaffolding’ a child’s learning experiences (providing guidance to help develop new skills but letting them feel in control or helping child devise ‘if then’ plans for situations when their self-control may be compromised). These methods should be used rather than using sanctions and punitive controls.

Fact No. 12: Self-Awareness We all know that teenagers become more self-conscious, but this can be explained by the ‘imaginary audience’ phenomenon that appears at the ages of 14-16 years.

Adolescents between the ages of 14-16 years experience the 'imaginary audience' phenomenon - this is the belief that they are being watched and judged by others. By encouraging self-awareness of this belief confidence can be increased.

Fact No. 13: Language Development It’s amazing to think that a 2-month-old infant will show a negative affect after an adult stops interacting with them.

In the ‘still-face paradigm' (this is an experimental technique in which an adult interacts with the infant and then stops responding, freezing and looking at the child) it has been demonstrated that infants as young as TWO MONTHS OLD show negative affect when an interactive partner freezes. Social interactions and Language development (in this case Non-Verbal Communication) are linked! 

 

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