Chapter 11 Physical Development in Middle Childhood Caprice Paduano Child Development
In what ways do children grow during the school years, and what factors influence their growth?
What are the nutritional needs of school-age children, and what are some causes and effects of improper nutrition?
What sorts of health threats do school-age children face?
What are the characteristics of motor development during middle childhood, and what advantages do improved physical skills bring?
What safety threats affect school-age children, and what can be done about them?
What sorts of special needs manifest themselves in the middle-childhood years, and how can they be met?
Middle childhood is the time when children make great physical strides, mastering all kinds of new skills as they grow bigger and stronger.
Especially when compared to the swift growth during the first 5 years of life and the remarkable growth spurt characteristic of adolescence, middle childhood is relatively tranquil.
Physical growth continues, although at a more steady pace than it did during the preschool years.
While they are in elementary school, children in the United States grow, on average, 2 to 3 inches a year.
By age 11, the average height for girls is 4 feet, 10 inches and the average height for boys is slightly shorter at 4 feet, 9 1/2 inches.
Weight gain follows a similar pattern, and weight is also redistributed.
The level of nutrition children receive during their lives significantly affects many aspects of their behavior.
Not only does good nutrition promote the growth of strong bones, but it is also related to the development of healthy teeth.
Nutrition is also linked to cognitive performance.
Most children in North America receive sufficient nutrients to grow to their full potential.
In other parts of the world, however, inadequate nutrition and disease take their toll.
Within particular racial and ethnic groups, there is significant variation between individuals.
Although tens of thousands of children who have insufficient natural growth hormone are taking such drugs, some observers question whether shortness is a serious enough problem to warrant the use of the drug.
On the other hand, there is no denying that artificial growth hormones are effective in increasing children’s height.
The costs of childhood obesity last a lifetime.
Obesity is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Poor diets and lack of exercise also contribute to obesity.
Sedentary activities not only keep children from exercising, but they often snack while viewing TV, playing video games, or surfing the Web.
One strategy is to control the food that is available in the home.
Avoiding fast foods, which are high in calories and fats, is important.
The goal of treatment for obesity is to temporarily maintain a child’s current weight through an improved diet and increased exercise.
More than 90% of children are likely to have at least one serious medical condition over the 6-year period of middle childhood.
About one in nine has a chronic, persistent condition, such as repeated migraine headaches.
Some illnesses are actually becoming more prevalent.
Asthma A chronic condition characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath
Asthma attacks are triggered by a variety of factors.
Although asthma can be serious, treatment is increasingly effective for those who suffer from the disorder.
Poverty may play an indirect role.
Symptoms of childhood depression are not entirely consistent with the ways adults express depression.
Childhood depression is usually characterized by the expression of exaggerated fears, clinginess, or avoidance of everyday activities.
Childhood disorders can be treated effectively through a variety of approaches.
During middle childhood, children’s athletic abilities play an important role in determining how they see themselves, as well as how they are viewed by others.
This is also a time when such physical proficiencies develop substantially.
One important improvement in gross motor skills is in the realm of muscle coordination.
For instance, most school-age children can readily learn to ride a bike, ice-skate, swim, and skip rope, skills that earlier they could not perform well.
There is no reason to separate the sexes in physical exercise and sports until puberty, when the smaller size of females begins to make them more susceptible to injury in contact sports.
One of the reasons for advances in fine motor skills is that the amount of myelin in the brain increases significantly between the ages of 6 and 8.
Because increased levels of myelin raise the speed at which electrical impulses travel between neurons, messages can reach muscles more rapidly and control them better.
It is clear that athletic competence and motor skills in general play a notable role in school-age children’s lives.
However, it is important to help children avoid overemphasizing the significance of physical ability.
The goals of participation in sports and other physical activities should be to maintain physical fitness, to learn physical skills, to become comfortable with one’s body, and to have fun.
The increasing independence and mobility of school-age children give rise to new safety issues.
Boys are more apt to be injured than girls, probably because their overall level of physical activity is greater.
The most common source of injury to children is automobile accidents.
Two ways to reduce auto and bicycle injuries are to use seat belts consistently inside the car and to wear appropriate protective gear when bike riding.
A contemporary threat to the safety of school-age children comes from the World Wide Web.
Although computer software developers are developing programs that will block particular computer sites, most experts feel that the most reliable safeguard is close supervision by parents.
Children with special needs differ significantly from typical children in terms of physical attributes or learning abilities.
Furthermore, their needs present major challenges for both care providers and teachers.
Visual impairment Difficulties in seeing that may include blindness or partial sightedness
Auditory impairment A special need that involves the loss of hearing or some aspect of hearing
Speech impairment Speech that deviates so much from the speech of others that it calls attention to itself, interferes with communication, or produces maladjustment in the speaker
Stuttering Substantial disruption in the rhythm and fluency of speech; the most common speech impairment
Learning disabilities Difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) A learning disability marked by inattention, impulsiveness, a low tolerance for frustration, and a great deal of inappropriate activity
Because there is no simple test to identify whether a child has ADHD, it is hard to know for sure how many children have the disorder.
The treatment of children with ADHD has been a source of considerable controversy.
Least restrictive environment The setting most similar to that of children without special needs
Mainstreaming An educational approach in which exceptional children are integrated as much as possible into the traditional educational system and are provided with a broad range of educational alternatives
Full inclusion The integration of all students, even those with the most severe disabilities, into regular classes and all other aspects of school and community life