Social Issues in Middle Childhood & Their Effects on Development

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  • 0:03 Middle Childhood
  • 0:39 Family Issues
  • 2:31 School Issues
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Children grow and develop in many ways. But sometimes issues at home or school can get in the way of development. In this lesson, we'll look at some issues that might contribute to developmental problems in a child's life.

Middle Childhood

Casey is 10 years old. She wants to do well in school, but she has trouble concentrating sometimes. And she can't always do her homework because she and her family live in a homeless shelter, and it's so chaotic there that she can't find the quiet that she needs to finish her work.

Middle childhood includes the years between ages seven and 12. At that age, children are growing and changing all the time. But kids can also face issues in middle childhood that can compromise their ability to develop. Let's look closer at family and school issues that children might face in middle childhood.

Family Issues

Casey is a smart girl, but she's running into some academic problems because of her family's situation. Millions of children every year live in poverty, and this can cause issues in both academics and behavior. Partly, this might be because poorer parents have trouble offering support, busy as they are trying to make ends meet. Children's physical and intellectual development might also suffer due to inadequate nutrition; studies have linked hunger to poorer academic performance.

And then, of course, there's the living situation. Children, like Casey, who live in homeless shelters can find it difficult to sleep well or get homework done. This can impact their grades and intellectual development.

However, Casey is lucky in one regard. She has parents who love her and are trying their best to provide her with the support she needs. Though poverty can have an effect on children's development, the effect doesn't have to be dramatic or long-lasting. The more love and support children receive, regardless of income, the better off they are.

When talking about family issues that might influence a child's development, many people see working mothers as a problem that needs to be addressed. They argue that a working mother is not able to provide the same level of support that stay-at-home moms do. However, studies have shown that homes with working mothers tend to be more structured and egalitarian than those with at-home mothers. In addition, studies have shown that working mothers can have a positive influence on academic achievement, especially in low-income families.

There is an exception, though. Middle-class boys tend to do slightly worse academically when a mother works. All in all, though, there is little evidence that having a working mother is a problem for kids in middle childhood. The decision, then, must be made by the family unit as to what the best option for the family is.

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