3 Developmental Stages: Get to Know Your Students

3 Developmental Stages
Get to Know Your Students

Andrea Pesce
by Andrea Pesce 3,925 views |

Kids are simply incredible.

Each age offers an incredible variety of surprises. As children grow, what they are able to do increases and becomes more and more sophisticated. That's why, as a teacher, you need to know what kids can do at certain ages and what comes naturally to them, also, what the challenges are. Knowing this can help you choose the right games, activities and material. Psychologists and development researchers have proposed several different theories to describe and explain the process and stages that children go through as they develop. Some tend to focus on the developmental milestones, or specific achievements that children reach by a certain age. Though age is not the only thing that determines how kids develop because all children are unique, doing some research is definitely worth it. This information can go a long way toward giving you the advantage of knowing where to aim and what to avoid. So, with this in mind , let's take a look at some developmental stages and get to know the kids. We'll just cover stages ESL teachers are often in contact with.

Check These 3 Developmental Stages to Know Your Students Better

  1. 1

    Preschool: about the Time the Child Starts to Talk to about Age 6

    Children change a lot from one year to the other and so do their abilities. Between ages 4-5 kids :

    • Can remember part of a story or parts of a movie
    • Can use more than five words in a sentence
    • Can use future tense
    • Can say their name and address
    • Can count ten or more objects
    • Can correctly name at least four colors
    • Better understand the concept of time
    • Can name and mention things used often in the home (money, food)
    • Want to please friends and want to be like their friends
    • Are more likely to agree to rules
    • Like to sing, dance, and act
    • Show more independence
    • Are able to distinguish fantasy from reality
    • Are sometimes demanding, sometimes eagerly cooperative

    Teachers who work with kids at this stage should:

    • Use a good variety of activities that all kids can relate to.
    • Congratulate them on all their achievements, not only those related to the content they are learning. For instance, for sharing, or perhaps helping a classmate.
    • Alternate activities with movement and others that require more focus and calm.
  2. 2

    School Aged: about First Grade to Early Adolescence

    At this stage there are signs of growing independence. This is great because there is a lot more you can do with them. Let's take a look at some common characteristics.

    • Children are beginning to see the point of view of others more clearly.
    • There are fewer angry outbursts and more ability to endure frustration while accepting delays in getting things they asked for.
    • Children often resolve conflict through peers who judge and accept or reject their actions.
    • Each time decisions are made, inner control is being formed and practiced.
    • Children’s feelings get hurt easily.
    • Children often don’t know how to deal with failure so there are mood swings.
    • Children can begin to think about their own behavior and see consequences for actions.
    • In the early stages of concrete thinking, they can group things that belong together.
    • Children begin to read and write early in middle childhood and should be skillful in reading and writing by the end of this stage.
    • They can trace back events that happened to explain situations by thinking through their actions.
    • Children learn best if they are active while they are learning.
    • Six- to 8-year-olds can rarely sit for longer than 15-20 minutes for an activity. Attention span gets longer with age.
    • Children can talk through problems to solve them.
    • They can develop a plan to meet a goal.
    • Since many routines are automatic, there is greater memory capability.

    Teachers who work with kids at this stage should:

    • Help children set individual goals and try to encourage non-competitive games.
    • Talk about self-control and making good decisions.
    • Talk about why it is important to be patient, share, and respect others’ rights.
    • Teach them to learn from criticism. Ask “how could you do that differently next time?”
    • Give children positive feedback for successes and let them help define the rules.
    • To help children develop problem solving skills, adults can ask “what if…” or “how could we solve this”.
    • Reading signs, making lists, and counting prices are all exercises to practice sequencing skills.
  3. 3

    Teens: about Early Adolescence to Mid/Late adolescence

    Now it's time to discuss our next stage. This one includes teens and the secret here is simply to understand what they are going through. Let's take a look at some typical characteristics of what they are like at this stage.

    • Teens are very self-conscious. They feel that they have an "imaginary audience" of people who are always watching them.
    • Teens tend to believe that no one else can understand how they feel. This could lead them to be overly dramatic when discussing issues.
    • Teens tend to become very cause-oriented. Their activism is related to the ability to think about abstract concepts. After reading about cruelty to animals a teen may become a vegetarian, for example.
    • Teens tend to exhibit a "justice" orientation. They are quick to point out inconsistencies between adults' words and their actions.

    Teachers who work with kids at this stage should:

    • Try to listen to their concerns and be empathetic towards them. Enlist the help of a slightly older sibling or friend to give good advice to the teen if needed.
    • Teens should take a more active role in determining how they should behave. Their advanced reasoning skills make it easier for them to generate realistic consequences for their actions. Listen to what they have to say.
    • Teens want to become active in things that have deeper meaning. Work on projects that involve the community. Talk to them about their experiences.
    • Ask teens about their views and opinions. Find out what they think about news stories on television or in the paper; ask them about their beliefs.

Since there is great variation in genetic, cognitive, physical, family, cultural, nutritional, educational, and environmental factors, what is considered "normal," also varies.

Many children reach some or most of these milestones at different times. Keep in mind that each child develops in a unique way; however, using norms helps in understanding these general patterns of development.

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