Patterns of Child Development

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Patterns of Child Development The various aspects of child development encompass physical growth, emotional and psychological changes, and social adjustments. A great many determinants influence patterns of development and change. On the average, a newborn baby weighs 3.4 kg (7.5 lb) and is 53 cm (21 in) long, with the head disproportionately larger than the lower part of the body. As the child grows, increments in height are greatest from birth to three years; thereafter they are relatively constant until adolescence. The growth spurt at adolescence is far less than during infancy. Weight increments are also large during the first three years but are equally large during adolescence. Research shows that growth rates are influenced by the health of the child. Rates of development decelerate during illness; after an illness is cured, however, growth rates accelerate until children attain their appropriate height and weight. Dramatic changes occur in motor skills from birth through the first two years. At birth infants are capable of extensive uncoordinated movements. One feature of the early motor behavior of infants is the large number of reflex-like actions. These actions appear for a short time after birth and then disappear. For example, when the palm of the hand is stroked lightly the fingers involuntarily close, forming a fist; this is called the palmar reflex. From these early movements, distinct sequential patterns of motor development occur. Walking, which occurs on the average between 13 and 15 months, emerges from a sequence of 14 earlier stages. Research shows that the rate of acquisition of motor skills is innately determined and that the acquisition of these skills is not influenced by practice. Severe restri... ... middle of paper ... ... adults are less obvious. The members of peer groups change with age. Preadolescent groups are homogeneous; that is, members are usually of the same sex and come from the same neighborhood. Among older children, social relationships are based on shared interests and values. Within a given group, the popular children tend to be more intelligent, higher achievers, and socially and emotionally more mature. Much current work involves identifying the cognitive components (such as memory and attention span) used in problem-solving activities. Researchers also are trying to identify the processes that occur in the transition from one level of thought to the next. Another area of investigation is the cognitive components in reading and arithmetic. It is hoped that this research will lead to improved methods of teaching academic skills and more effective remedial teaching.

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