Early childhood refers to the period between birth and six years while middle childhood is the period of child growth between seven to eleven years of age. During this age, the child goes through a period of transitions physically, socially, and emotionally. This forms the most significant period of child development. It is in this period that children learn and obtain abilities and skills that enable them to interact and communicate with their environment.
Changes that occur in this period and factors influencing them
Physical changes in this period are characterized by a various variations and growth patterns. At this stage, children acquire a leaner and more energetic appearance. Both genders have the same body shapes, they grow up to 2-3 inches tall and gain a weight of up to 7 pounds per year. Alternatively, their skeletal bones broaden and in some kids they may experience pain. There is sloughing of milk teeth at this stage. Girls are tinnier than boys and have less mass. The above changes are favored by a number of factors that include; heredity which refers to the dispatch of physical characteristics from parents to children. Secondly, the environment around the child dictates its growth as well. Additionally, the nutrition which includes a balanced diet ensures good physical growth. The growth hormones also facilitate normal growth in kids as well as the level of exercise and health of the child. The sex of the child also determines its degree of growth. Boys and girls develop differently from each other, for instance, boys grow taller at puberty compared to girls.
Changes that occur in a child’s brain and nervous system development
During early childhood, the brain undergoes rapid changes and developments where it develops and reforms complex networks of connections through pruning and myelination. The brain develops up to 90% of its weight and is divided into the right and the left hemispheres. The left hemisphere develops during early childhood while the right hemisphere develops during the middle childhood. At this stage, the child prefers to use the one hand more than the other. The nervous system also undergoes growth at this period. The nervous system support cells form alongside the myelin sheath that insulates the neurons. This growth influences children to behave in certain manner. Pruning is a significant process that helps shape the brain of young children. For example, a child is able to perceive all sounds from all languages around it. During these early years the brain is able to capture languages that are familiar and prunes away the others to increase efficiency. Motor skills also improve where children can run, jump and balance. Children also perfect their fine motor skills where they can read, write and talk back.
Changes in cognition, problem solving and judgment
The milestones at this stage include abilities to communicate, think and problem solve. For example, a child is able to say no or even respond to requests made verbally. They are also aware of objects around them and enjoy various games for example, hide and seek. In early childhood, there is increased use of language and imitation of adult behaviors. Here, children can count, say their names as well as listen to stories since they are able to think symbolically. At this stage, the kids can predict what will happen next in the story and tend to have a sprouting curiosity. Children at this stage are unable to distinguish their opinions from those of others and are said to be egocentric. At the age of 3, they’re able to understand people have different experiences, and at the age of 4, they are able to interpret the thoughts and feelings of others hence they are said to have developed social cognition. This skill enables the kids to persuade, or tease other children. In middle childhood, children begin to think logically and in an organized way when dealing with serious information. At this stage, they understand the past, present and even the future. They are able to accommodate complex ideas however, their attention seems to be averted up to puberty age.
Milestones in social and emotional development of children
Toddlers tend to have mood swings and feelings that are often short-lived. Children at this age are very possessive and have difficulty in sharing. At the age of six months, infants are able to know familiar faces, like to play with parents and respond to other people’s emotions for example, they smile back when offered a smile. At the age of 1-3 years, their language develops as their interactions with people around them intensify. Language enables children to communicate with others as well as solving problems. At the age of 5, preschoolers develop strong friendships and their social skills mature up. They also develop a sense of gender identification and a sense of right and wrong. They begin to understand and experiment with the already formed peer groups that may result to feelings of exclusion. The school-age children develop drastically as well as their friendships. At this stage, children are in search of independence, a factor that may result to conflicts with parents and teachers. Here the children are also in seek of self-confidence and want to develop trust and empathy.
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Comparison between males and females social-emotional changes.
During this stage, boys are more involved in physical activities as compared to girls. This is because, girls tend to be a bit naïve, preserved and dominant whereas boys are free and take greater risks. Boys are less concerned with their emotions as compared to girls whose social life revolves around their feelings and perception of people around them.
From the above study, it is evident that the early childhood and middle childhood stages are vital and the most significant phases in a child’s life. It is a period where the child’s body and brain develop, the child is nurtured both physically, emotionally and socially in order to cope with the environment around him/her. The child is also able to acquire skills, develop talents and abilities that enable him to fit in the world around him. It is in this stage that the child is able to identify its differences with the opposite gender, develop self-confidence, and acquire problem solving skills as well as cognitive abilities.