Physical, Cognitive & Linguistic Developmental Milestones in Middle Childhood

Instructor: Mary May
What is the impact of physical, cognitive, and linguistic development of middle childhood students? Learn how to use this information to develop and deliver effective instruction in this lesson.

Using Characteristics of Middle Childhood Development to Guide Instruction

Throughout life, we are continually changing. We get taller, get stronger, and learn new words and skills. We explore the world around us, constantly adjusting our understanding based on our observations. When designing instruction, educator Tamara actively thinks of these stages in her students' development as well. She considers what stage of development are in and the traits of that stage. How can she design your instruction accordingly?

Middle childhood is generally from 6-11 years of age and is accompanied by a great period of development in their reasoning and language skills. To prepare instruction that is best suited for this age, Tamara learns what happens during middle childhood physically, cognitively, and linguistically.

Physical Changes During Middle Childhood

During elementary school children's gross motor skills, skills involving larger muscles and movement such as walking or running, are well developed and continually honed. Many children will use these advances to focus on sports.

When designing instruction for this age group, Tamara finds activities that focus on students' enjoyment of play, where gross motor skills will be used and developed. She knows that children will be more engaged during lessons that involve physical activity. It could also be used as a reward that students will respond well to.

Fine motor skills, skills involving smaller muscles and movement like in drawing or sewing, will steadily improve throughout middle childhood as well. Tamara gives children opportunities to improve their fine motor skills with drawing and writing. This is also the age that children whose fine motor skills are developing more slowly can really benefit from using some intervention time to work on handwriting.

Cognitive Changes During Middle Childhood

During elementary school, children will begin to develop concrete reasoning, so Tamara knows they will respond well to pictures or physical models of new ideas. She watches them begin to recognize the thoughts and opinions of others, and with that the realization that their opinion may change. The use of logic increases, and they start to be able to perform more sophisticated, 'adult' tasks.

When designing instruction, Tamara uses pictures and manipulatives to develop students' emerging concrete reasoning skills. She finds it beneficial to identify and challenge their misconceptions, trusting that their developing logic skills can be used to learn new things and replace old misconceptions.

Because children at this age are just beginning to recognize other viewpoints, they will often seek confirmation that their work is correct. Tamara builds in opportunities to let them know whether they are on the right track, but makes sure to do it in a structured way. It can be hard to reach all her students when there are 20 little hands in the air. She finds a way to go over some answers with the whole class. Then she can have one-on-one or small group conversations with the students that really need help or confirmation.

Linguistic Changes During Middle Childhood

Language skills progress a lot during infancy and early childhood, but they continue to develop throughout middle childhood. Pronunciation will be mastered during middle childhood, and the intuitive understanding of phonics will emerge.

Tamara notices that Jamal has become able to recognize the meaning of some words through context within reading passages. Teresa's listening skills have improves as she starts to consider other points of view. Eric is staring to have longer, more complex conversations about concrete topics.

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