Developmental Trends: Accomplishments and Diversity at Different Age Levels (page 6)
Birth through adolescence are formative years where you will see your child learn and grow quickly. Here is a list of typical physical, cognitive and social-emotional milestones from birth through adolescence to help you know what to expect at each life stage. Also included are expert suggestions you can implement to help your child succeed at each developmental stage.
What you Might Observe
- Motor skills including rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing, walking
- Growing ability to reach, grab, manipulate, and release objects
- Rudimentary self-feeding by the end of infancy
- Rapid brain growth
- Ability to distinguish among different faces
- Rapid growth in communication, including crying, using gestures and facial expressions, synchronizing attention with caregivers, babbling, forming one-word sentences, constructing multiple-word sentences
- Ability to imitate simple gestures with a model present, moving to complex imitation of actions and patterns from memory
- Growing ability to remember people and things out of sight
- Formation of close bonds with responsive and affectionate caregivers
- Use of words to name people, things, needs, and desires
- Playing side by side with peers but also interacting at times
- Increasing awareness of ownership and boundaries of self (“Me!” “Mine!”)
- Developing sense of power and will (“No!”)
- Considerable diversity exists in age when, and in manner in which, babies develop motor skills.
- Self-feeding and self-help skills emerge later when families encourage children to rely on others for meeting basic needs.
- Children’s temperaments and physical abilities affect their exploration of the environment.
- In unsafe environments, families may limit children’s exploration.
- Some young children learn two or three languages, especially when knowing more than one language is valued by caregivers.
- Ability to pretend is displayed early by some children and later by others.
- Nonverbal communication varies with culture. For instance, a child may be discouraged from making eye contact with an elder as a sign of respect.
- Children who have few experiences with peers may appear tentative, detached, or aggressive.
- Infants and toddlers who spend time in multiage settings interact differently than do those accustomed to same-age groups.
- Some children are encouraged by families to share possessions, and others are encouraged to respect individual rights of property.
- Provide a safe, appropriate, sensory-rich environment so infants can move, explore surroundings, and handle objects.
- Hold infants gently, and care for their physical needs in an attentive manner.
- Learn and respond sensitively to each infant’s manner of approaching or resisting new people, objects, and events.
- Encourage but do not rush infants to learn motor skills, such as walking.
- Learn what each family wants for its children, and try to provide culturally sensitive care.
- Recognize that children’s early images of themselves are influenced by unconscious messages from adults (e.g., “I enjoy holding you” or “I’m sad and unable to attend to your needs”).
- Speak to infants regularly to enrich their language development.
- Find out which languages families speak at home.
- Communicate regularly with families about infants’ daily activities, including how much and what they eat and drink, how well they sleep, and what their moods are during the day.
Early Childhood (2–6)
What you Might Observe
- Increasing abilities in such motor skills as running and skipping, throwing a ball, building block towers, and using scissors
- Increasing competence in basic self-care and personal hygiene
- Dramatic play and fantasy with peers
- Ability to draw simple figures
- Some knowledge of colors, letters, and numbers
- Recounting of familiar stories and events
- Developing understanding of gender
- Emerging abilities to defer immediate gratification, share toys, and take turns
- Modest appreciation that other people have their own desires, beliefs, and knowledge
- Some demonstration of sympathy for people in distress
- Children master coordinated physical skills (e.g., skipping) at different ages.
- Individual differences in fine motor proficiency and gross motor agility are substantial.
- Some children enter kindergarten having had few social experiences with age-mates; others have been in group child care since infancy.
- Family and cultural backgrounds influence the kinds of skills that children have mastered by the time they begin school.
- Some children have had a lot of experience listening to storybooks, but others have been read to rarely.
- Many children at this age have difficulty following rules, standing quietly in line, and waiting for their turns.
- Provide sensory-rich materials that encourage exploration (e.g., water table, sand box, textured toys).
- Arrange a variety of activities (e.g., assembling puzzles, coloring, block construction, dance) that permit children to exercise fine motor and gross motor skills.
- Encourage children to engage in cooperative and fantasy play by providing props and open play areas.
- Read to children regularly to promote vocabulary and preliteracy skills.
- Give children frequent opportunities to play, interact with peers, and make choices.
- Communicate expectations for behavior so that children learn to follow the rules of group settings.
- Communicate regularly with families about children’s academic and social progress.
Middle Childhood (6–10)
What you Might Observe
- Ability to ride a bicycle
- Successful imitation of complex physical movements
- Participation in organized sports
- Development of basic skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other academic subject areas
- Ability to reason logically when aided by concrete objects
- Increasing awareness of how one’s own abilities compare with those of peers
- Desire for time with age-mates, especially friends of the same gender
- Increasing responsibility in household chores
- Adherence to rules in games
- Understanding of basic moral rules
- Children begin to compare their academic and physical performance to that of others, and children who perceive they are doing poorly may lose motivation to achieve.
- Many children are unable to sit quietly for long periods.
- Individual differences are evident in children’s performance in academic areas.
- Children differ in temperament and sociability; some are outgoing, others are more reserved and shy.
- A few children may show disturbing levels of aggression toward others.
- Tailor instructional methods (e.g., cooperative groups, individualized assignments, choices in activities) and materials to meet diversity in children’s talents, background knowledge, and interests.
- Address deficiencies in basic skills (e.g., in reading, writing, and math) before they develop into serious delays.
- Provide moderately challenging tasks that encourage children to learn new skills, perform well, and seek additional challenges.
- Provide the guidance necessary to help children interact more successfully with peers (e.g., by suggesting ways to resolve conflicts and finding a “buddy” for a newcomer to a school or club).
- Prohibit bullying and enforce codes of conduct.
Early Adolescence (10–14)
What you Might Observe
- Onset of puberty
- Significant growth spurt
- Emerging capacity to think and reason about abstract ideas
- Preliminary exposure to advanced academic content in specific subject areas
- Continued (and perhaps greater) interest in peer relationships
- Emerging sexual interest in the opposite gender or same gender, depending on orientation
- Challenges to parents, teachers, and other authorities regarding rules and boundaries
- Occasional moodiness
- Young adolescents exhibit considerable variability in the age at which they begin puberty.
- Academic problems often become more pronounced during adolescence; students who encounter frequent failure become less engaged in school activities.
- Adolescents seek out peers whose values are compatible with their own and who will give them recognition and status.
- Some young adolescents begin to engage in deviant and risky activities (e.g., unprotected sex, cigarette smoking, use of drugs and alcohol).
- Suggest and demonstrate effective study strategies as adolescents begin to tackle difficult subject matter.
- Give struggling adolescents the extra academic support they need to be successful.
- Provide a regular time and place where young adolescents can seek guidance and advice about academic or social matters (e.g., offer your classroom or office as a place where students can occasionally eat lunch).
- Provide opportunities for adolescents to contribute to decision making in clubs and recreation centers.
- Hold adolescents accountable for their actions, and impose appropriate consequences when they break rules.
Late Adolescence (14–18)
What you Might Observe
- Achievement of sexual maturity and adult height
- For some teens, development of a regular exercise program
- Development of specific eating habits (e.g., becoming a vegetarian, consuming junk food)
- In-depth study of certain academic subject areas
- Consideration of career tracks and job prospects
- Increasing independence (e.g., driving a car, making choices for free time)
- Frequent questioning of existing rules and societal norms
- Some adolescents make poor choices regarding the peers with whom they associate.
- Older adolescents aspire to widely differing educational and career tracks (e.g., some aspire to college, others anticipate seeking employment immediately after high school, and still others make no plans for life after high school).
- Some teens participate in extracurricular activities; those who do are more likely to stay in school until graduation.
- Some teens become sexually active, and some become parents.
- Teenagers’ neighborhoods and communities offer differing opportunities and temptations.
- Communicate caring and respect for all adolescents.
- Allow choices in academic subjects and assignments, but hold adolescents to high standards for performance.
- Provide the guidance and assistance that low-achieving students may need to be more successful.
- Help adolescents explore higher education opportunities and a variety of career paths.
- Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities.
- Arrange opportunities for adolescents to make a difference in their communities through volunteer work and service learning projects.
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