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Overview of middle childhood

In this step, we will learn about the development of children between ages 4 to 9 years old, “middle childhood.
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In this step, we’re talking about the development of children from the ages of four to nine We´re calling this middle childhood. To start us off here’s Aashna Poddar of the Harvard Easel Lab. Hi Aashna. Hello everyone and thanks Carly for that really great introduction. So as Carly mentioned, middle childhood is a really busy time for development. Children are getting stronger and attention and memory and they´re beginning to understand social interactions. And becoming more self aware this sets them up with the foundation for lifelong learning. The four big areas of development during this period are language and emotions concern for others thinking and understanding and Lastly relationships and play. Let’s start with language and emotions.
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Over these years there is an explosion of vocabulary children can talk about their needs, feelings and experiences with increasing vocabulary and self awareness. At four children may begin identifying their own needs through simple words. For instance, they might tell adults when they’re feeling happy, sad, mad, or scared. Children this age may be interested in describing how different emotions look, sound, and feel in their bodies. As children get older, adults can introduce words like frustration, disappointment, excitement, curiosity and so on.
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You can talk about complex emotions such as feeling two different things at the same time, like feeling excited and nervous about something talking with children, especially in the language you speak most often and comfortably at home is a great way to build children’s language skills and emotional awareness. The next area of development is concerned for others. Between 4 and 9 years children become more aware of the feelings, wants and needs of others. Children at four are typically focused on their own experiences and those of the people close to them, such as their family, close friends and neighbours.
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As children grow older, their worldview expands and by the age of nine, most children can think about people beyond their immediate circle and even imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. This is a great time to support children, to build empathy, perspective taking and kindness. 9 year old children may be especially interested in learning about other children and families around the world For example by reading or telling stories of the past, or talking about the lives and experiences of others. Adults can support this growing concern for others by identifying activities and helping behaviours that give children some connection to others and a sense of purpose. Next, let’s look at thinking an understanding.
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Children at four years are mostly engaged in concrete thinking. For example, thinking and talking about specific people. Objects and experiences in their own life. By 9 years most children can engage in abstract thinking, which means thinking about ideas or concepts such as the concept of Infinity, thinking about the big picture, and imagining something in the future. 4 year olds are mostly focused on the immediate, but with guidance. Most 9 year olds can make a plan or goal for something in the future and can carry out a series of steps order to accomplish their goal.
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Similarly, 9 year olds have greater capacity to understand complex rules to keep track of changing information and to hold multiple pieces of information in mind and use it to make decisions. This is called working memory. And helps older children to be more independent in daily chores and tasks like completing their school work and help some play complex games with their friends. Writing and drawing are great ways to develop children’s thinking and understanding during this period, as well as their creative imaginations. And finally, let’s look at relationships and play.
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Between the ages of 4 to 9 children move from parallel play to cooperation and problem solving For example 4 year olds may sit next to one another while making their own drawing or block tower By 9 many children enjoy working together in more collaborative ways. Older children can keep each other in check in attempt to maintain fairness to include each others ideas and even look out for each other safety or well being. This let’s them play with less adult direction or supervision. Children’s cognitive development also means more elaborate imagination, which is seen in their play. Children may be absorbed in their characters or make believe worlds, and this play time is especially important for processing feelings or experiences.
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Physical play such as rough and tumble sports and outdoor games can be a wonderful way to develop body coordination, sharing and taking turns, teamwork, skills, and assertive communication. Finally, friendships become increasingly important in this period. Children are keen to participate in activities with others like reading books with adults or older siblings or having conversations about their daily activities as children get older, they tend to seek more opportunities to talk and spend time with their friends. That’s all for me. Back to you, Carly Aashna. Thank you so much.

In this step, we will learn about the development of children between ages 4 to 9 years old, “middle childhood.” Four key areas of development during this period are:

  1. Language and emotions
  2. Concern for others
  3. Thinking and understanding
  4. Relationships and play
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