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Children undergo many changes as they grow up through various stages of life; however, the development between early and middle childhood appears to be the most essential for any child. During this period, a child experiences a heightened developmental stage where physical and mental variations take place. The physical changes may include height, weight, among others; while the psychological modifications may involve language learning, ability to read, and the problem-solving skills. The changes affect the children both socially and emotionally. The work presents the case analysis in which the differences have been observed and recorded. It is also noted that physical variations are more notably from early childhood to early and middle adulthood.
The first two years of early childhood marks a duration in which children tend to commence their development in a slow pace and will later see increases in height. The language learning and verbal abilities also increase in early childhood, as the kids develop skills of communication and self-perspective about things. Research indicates that physical variations in children as they grow is influenced by many factors including emotional well-being, which also helps in the determination of the speed of development. The other factors include heredity (which determines the physical characteristics), and nutrition which affects the learning, socialisation and communication abilities.
In middle childhood, physical development starts to take shape, but not in a steady manner as in the previous stages (Chaplin & Aldao, 2013). The differences in development are associated with many factors including genetics, gender, the hormonal variations and the health status of the kids. The caregivers emphasise proper nutrition as it enhances a maximised developmental potential. Research has indicated that diet has an impact on physical development and can influence every aspect of growth, ranging from the rates of growth to mental functioning (Black et al., 2017). The gender influences become very apparent as middle childhood continues. Boys become leaner and improve on their muscular structure, while girls do not show any spurts in growth, the weight is comparable, and the height becomes relatively shorter (Trawick-Smith & Smith, 2014).
Late childhood is also known as the latency period and covers the ages between 9 to 12 years (Petersen et al., 2013). The growth rates are relatively predictable, and the growth phase can differ from one child to another as had been predicted in the earlier stages, even if the children are within the same age brackets. Late childhood also marks a point when the signs of puberty start to appear in both genders, although the characteristics may be seen sooner in girls than in boys. Trawick-Smith & Smith (2014) notes that the stage marks a point of both excitement and confusion children. For instance, a girl who is 12 years of age may start wondering why her 9-year old neighbour has started developing breasts while she does not even exhibit signs of growth in the same manner.
Case Study 1: Gender Differences in Development
Observing the developmental periods happen is the best method of understanding them since it allows for the first-hand gathering of information as with the case with Thomas and Ella. The former is a typical child, who had no problem with his physical growth in his early and middle childhood: He had a friend Harry whom they grew up with, and despite his smaller size, he was never worried about it as he had not gained enough cognitive ability to allow for recognition of such developments in his body. However, as he grew up into the late childhood phase, Thomas started experiencing some physical changes that were similar to that of his friend Harry, but the worries came in because of a different height changes. Harry was growing at a faster rate than Thomas (Chaplin & Aldao, 2013). Such experiences are prevalent and normal as children cannot grow at the same speed.
Many factors influence growth in children including nutrition, genetical makeup, hormonal variations and environment. From the nutritional perspective, children who suffer malnutrition are likely to suffer from deficiency diseases that may hinder their physical growth and the general well-being. Now that Thomas and Harry were just friends, perhaps their economic backgrounds were dissimilar, and Thomas might have suffered from the same in his early childhood. On the other and genetics, could have contributed to the stunted growth witnessed in Thomas, and from this perspective, genes have a role to play. A child born from parents who have a family background of shortness may exhibit the same physical characteristics when they grow up. Even though it is not very clear from the case study, it is clear that Thomas was showing the physical attribute of shortness.
Psychologically, the boy after realising a difference in height from his peers, he decided to engage in activities that make him attract recognition. He was always very noisy and stubborn in class, and from the psychological point of view, these could be considered as mechanisms that he was using to make up for his height. In men, height is assumed to be associated with power, and therefore, shorter people will always try to make up for this deficiency by engaging in such behaviour as Thomas did, so that they can be recognised in the crowds. Indeed, he attracts people's attention even more by cracking jokes that excites laughter. Thomas believes that he can also become more potent by gaining more skills in karate. According to Dweck (2013), besides the energy that the adolescents possess, they are always excited and tend to engage in activities that they consider to be power-related.
On the other hand, Ella has been growing fast throughout the year, she is ahead of her peers concerning the physical growth, and she is not comfortable about it. Ella has become self-conscious about the changes she is experiencing. Unfortunately, she seems to lack emotional support from her environment. Based on the ideas of growth and development, it is clear that Ella's growth is very reasonable. Again the increase is only influenced by nutrition, genetic makeup and the environment. She seems to have had proper nutrition from birth, and her genetic makeup supports the rapid growth. Also, the changes seem to have come too soon for Ella as she feels embarrassed over her menstrual periods. Since she is the tallest girl, she feels even more uncomfortable since her height makes her more recognisable by peers. The other psychosocial challenge that Ella's face is the fact that her mother cannot buy her a new uniform. Even though not stated, this could be as a result of an economic problem the family. Financial issues may affect the self-esteem of children as the parents are unable some of the basic needs of girls as they transition from one stage of development to the other. As a result, the children become shy, fail to attend school and experience low cognitive achievement.
Teachers may have a role to play towards assisting Ella and Thomas cope up with the challenges associated with the physical changes as they transition from the late childhood to early puberty. Even though it is a healthy and natural process, entry into the stage may be confusing, embarrassing and anxiety-provoking. Teachers can help children like Thomas and Ella by creating an environment that promotes psychosocial support (Cook, 2016).
Many steps could be undertaken by both the teachers and parents at home to help Thomas and Ella. Parents should show sympathy and concern to the things that seem to bother their children. By doing so, the child may be able to understand that the parent or teacher may be in possession of the solution to his/her problems. For the case of Ella, teachers and parents should know that early puberty may be healthy, but at times it may be as a result of an underlying medical condition; hence there may need to seek medical advice. Generally, strong psychosocial support is the primary method of helping children cope up with the challenges associated with the transition from one stage of development to the next (Petersen et al., 2013).
Case Study 2: Second-language Acquisition and Reading
Most children are usually facing a lot of challenges when they move to new locations. The problem becomes worse when they are required to attend new schooling systems with a completely different order from their old ones. Morteza has gone to a new environment, where both culture and language are different. Despite having learned some of the basics of the word, he is unable to cope up fast due to shyness and a feeling of embarrassment. He knows that he is not fluent enough and therefore feels ashamed of communicating freely with his peers. Some of the typical problems that children like Morteza face include: In some systems, primary and secondary education comprises of objective tasks that focusses on getting the right answer instead of expressing an opinion, and therefore when students from countries that embrace such cultures move to other countries where expression of opinion is stressed, they find it very difficult to cope. Other students will also have problems adapting to a given learning environment when their former systems only allow for language transmission rather than formation of opinions over the same. Linguistic skills like writing, or interpretation of readings may therefore appear cumbersome, making the children to withdraw, thus delaying their learning process.
Morteza's behaviour was as a result of a combination of behavioural and socio-cultural factors. From the personality perspective, one could argue that Morteza was an introvert who suffered from an inferiority complex. Since many people in his class were fluent in her class, he found himself out of place but soon adapted and was able to catch up (Cook, 2016). From the socio-cultural perspective, Morteza was unable to cope very fast due to change of environment; he had not made new friends but as he continually grew he was able to cope up but interacting more, and making new friends. Therefore it is not easy to justify that the learners from the same country would exhibit a different behaviour or not. Morteza's teacher did an excellent job in assisting him to cope with the challenges. She can relate to the experiences of the boy and come up with an appropriate strategy to help him to adapt. However, she could have engaged him in more practical activities to capture his attention and make learning more exciting. Teachers can support learners like Morteza by understanding their background, and needs, hence coming up with teaching methodologies that address their individual needs.
Case Study 3: Concrete Materials in a Problem-solving Task
The four learners Jake, Remy, Molly and Eliza, are faced with a problem involving square numbers. The teacher initiates a learning environment in which students, despite their low age have to explore to come up with the solution. The students achieve the results by trying out steps using the provided oranges as the teacher help them in every step. The concrete materials (in this case oranges) aids learning by enabling students to establish a link between the world of mathematics and the real world, thus acting as a vessel through which the learners can understand and model the situations in the real world (Klingberg, 2014). In the case study, the students were able to form the sequence of square numbers by realising that every layer, starting at the top had to make up of a given amount if oranges to create a stable square-based pyramid.
In the concrete modelling teaching approach, the role of a teacher is to act as a facilitator, establish a favourable environment and develop the activities that allows the students to model the real world from the learning materials provided. The four learners were able to achieve the learning objective because The teacher ensured that the classroom was spacious enough to allow learning and exploration; the oranges were sufficient to allow for the formation of the square numbers and the counting of the numbers up to 140. Also, teacher facilitated the process by posing questions at every stage of modelling and allowing them to come up with the solutions.
According to Piaget’s theory, children undergo various stages in their cognitive development, all of which depend on maturity and experience (Dweck, 2013). When the stages are achieved, learners can construct knowledge from their environment by interacting with their physical and social environments. From the case, study, the element of construction of knowledge by creating a link between the oranges, pyramid and square numbers was visible. On the other hand, Vygotsky’s theory focussed on the role of social interactions and culture. Speech is a powerful tool which facilitates thinking and learning. From the case, the teacher consistently supervised and interacted with the learners by aking them questions and guiding them using a simple language that they could understand. Leaners also did the work in a group thus encouraging the social aspect.
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