Social, Affective & Moral Developmental Milestones in Middle Childhood

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

During the middle childhood years, children develop at different rates, but there are specific milestones that represent typical growth. In this lesson, we will discuss the developmental milestones for social, affective, and moral domains.

Developmental Milestones

What is considered normal development? Teachers may ask themselves this question about the children in their class, as identifying problems and offering early intervention can make a big difference in student success. Teachers know that there is a wide range of abilities among students in each of the areas of development. Even though each child will develop at a slightly different rate, there are developmental milestones that should be reached at various stages. Developmental milestones are specific behaviors that indicate how children are developing in comparison to what is expected of a child of a certain age. Let's examine the developmental milestones in the social, affective (emotional), and moral domains for children during the middle childhood years.

Middle Childhood Development

The middle childhood years are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as 6-11 years of age. These are the years that most children are in elementary school, making understanding the developmental milestones of this age group especially important for elementary school teachers to understand. Children in this age group make huge strides in motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and social skills. Teachers are often in the unique position of being able to observe children in a social setting with their peers. When teachers notice that a student's social, affective, or moral development is different from their peers, the classroom teacher may alert parents, school psychologists, or other professionals that can evaluate deficiencies and suggest interventions. Interventions are strategies of support for improving student skills. Some interventions for social, affective, and moral development may include the following:

  • Explicitly teaching and modeling appropriate behavior.
  • Engaging in role-playing activities that involve social-emotional problem-solving.
  • Playing games that encourage teamwork and other social norms.

6-8 Years of Age

During the first part of middle childhood, children will typically develop the following skills:

  • Children will begin to interact with their peers and desire social acceptance, although friendships may be situation-specific.
  • Children will depend less on their parents.
  • Children will understand the difference between right and wrong.
  • Children will follow rules to avoid getting in trouble.
  • Children will begin to identify their emotions and react appropriately.
  • Children will begin to consider their strengths and interests related to future career options.

Children who are unable to form relationships, act out emotionally, or exhibit major behavior problems in school may need additional support to prevent these developmental delays from interfering with learning experiences.

9-11 years

Children in the upper elementary grade level band should have mastered the developmental milestones listed above, as well as the following:

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