Middle Childhood Development
Intelligence Development Stage of Childhood

Middle childhood development is the concrete operational stage, when the focus is on logical thinking, intelligence and psychosocial development. Contrary to the usual concept, middle childhood is as special a stage of childhood development as toddlers and teenagers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines middle childhood from onset of sixth year to completion of tenth year of life.

Development in middle childhood is the outcome of interaction between the milestones achieved and ongoing learning experiences.

Motor skills, language proficiency and cognitive capabilities attained in the previous years are further mastered during the formative years of middle childhood.

Children in their middle childhood years begin to understand the rules of society and its moral bindings.

Middle childhood development helps children to cope with the increasing demands of the classroom curriculum. Learning disabilities and behavior problems surface at this stage that need medical attention.

Middle childhood development leads to logical thinking

Jean Piaget’s has described middle childhood development as the concrete operational stage, when the focus is on developing logical thinking.

The thinking process during middle childhood years gets more logical, flexible, and organized than it was during early childhood development. Children during this phase of development are “critical thinkers” with the ability to reason, remember, repeat, reorganize, relate, and reflect.

Enhanced logical thinking are easily noticed in their social relationships; strive for scholastic, cultural and sports excellence. Its reflections are also seen in their creativity, which gets significantly refined during middle childhood.

Aspects of middle childhood development

Logic
Children learn to reason and use the acquired knowledge constructively. They evaluate the thoughts both that of the others and their own before putting them in to action.

Constructive application of the information gathered involves child’s newly developed capability to accommodate and assimilate the thoughts.

Decentration
Thinking changes from perception bound to concrete logical during middle childhood years. Cognitive development during middle childhood development helps children overcome early childhood tendency to focus only on one aspect of a situation and enable the children in middle childhood to perceive the events/problems from different angles.

Reversibility
Any process can be returned to its original state.

Causality
Principle of or relationship between cause and effect and that nothing can happen without being caused.

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Intelligence development

Middle childhood development shows a sharp rise in child’s capacity to understand the world. Children in this phase begin to think rationally, and use resources effectively when faced with challenges; and that is intelligence.

The components of intelligence that increase during middle childhood.

Fluid Intelligence:
It gives the ability to remember, reason, and process information increases.

Crystallized Intelligence:
Increases in this type of intelligence gives children the ability to gather information, master skills, and develop strategies.

Metacognition:
Metacognition is the process of monitoring own thoughts and memory development.

Development of information processing

  • Decline in time needed to process information and so increase in information processing capacity.

  • The ability to resist interference from irrelevant information helps concentrate on information relevant to the task.

Attention span

The attention span increases during middle childhood development as a result of more controlled an adaptable thought process of children at this age.

Consequently, children develop the capabilities to -

  • Plan the attention time they need to assign to a task.

  • Choose the focus of attention
    Children become better at deliberately attending to just those aspects of a situation that are relevant to the set goals.

  • Flexibility to adjust attention
    Children develop the flexibility to change their focus to the situation that needs their immediate attention.

  • Ability to set task priority in an orderly fashion.

Inability to control attention span

Inability to control attention is seen in children with ADHD.
These children face great difficulty staying on a specified task. They tend to act impulsively and usually are hyperactive.

Memory strategies

Memory strategies are the deliberate mental activities used to store and retain information. Working memory plays an important role in learning during middle childhood.

General intelligence is highly correlated with working memory capacity.

Memory capacity shows a steady developmental increase during middle childhood years as:

  • Capacity of short term memory improves significantly.

  • Increase in long term memory

  • Meta-memory: Understanding the processes underlying memory emerges and continues to improve during middle childhood development.

Child's scholastic performance as related to memory span

Memory strategies require time and effort in order to show desired results.

Memory span improves from the age of
5 years onward and the adult levels of performance is reached by about 15 years of age.

During middle childhood, children arrange the vast amount of information in their memories into increasingly elaborate, hierarchically structured networks.


Strategies to improve memory:

  • Rehearse
    Rehearsal involves repeating information to oneself over and over again.

  • Organisation
    Organisation involves skilfully grouping together of related items to be able to remember a wide range of tasks.

  • Elaboration
    It is a memory strategy of creating a relationship between two or more items that are not members of the same category. Elaboration along with organisation combines items into meaningful chunks and permit children to retain more information.

  • Correlation of information
    Correlating
    new information to long-term memory makes the new information more meaningful, familiar and easy to retain and retrieve effectively.

Communication capabilities

Communicative language development includes expressive and receptive skills, and it parallels child’s cognitive skills. Communication capabilities reflect child's intelligence and psychosocial development. Interactive language-rich environment of school going children increases their communicative capabilities.

Communicative skills development during middle childhood

  • Children in their middle childhood can engage in
    constructive conversation with a variety of relevant questions. 

  • At this age children are good listeners too.

  • School age children begin to grasp the double meanings of words, which enables them to understand metaphors, riddles and puns.

  • Between the ages of 5 and 10, they start applying social context for determining the meaning of a conversation rather than following a literal interpretation of the words.

  • Vocabulary blossoms during the school-age years.
    Children learn more than 5000 words a year during their middle childhood development. With the effect, by the end of the school years, teenagers develop vocabulary of about 40,000 words.

Warm, responsive parenting during middle childhood development helps children develop self-regulatory skills and achieve their desired objectives.

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