In the process of development two interrelated factors are at work – learning and maturation. Experiences that provide a basis for learning are necessary for normal development, but exercise or training alone cannot produce the changes in capacity and performance that normally occur in the process of growth.
In the training of children it is important to take account of the factor of maturation and to adjust requirements and opportunities for learning to the child’s readiness. As has been pointed out, efforts to accelerate a performance by means of coaching or special training are not likely to be effective if the child, by reason of his immaturity, does not have the equipment to profit from such training.
The training and learning are planned processes which are organized by the teacher in school and classroom situations. Therefore, it is essential for him to understand the dimensions of development and their components or characteristics of a child.
There are four main dimensions of development: 1. Physical and Motor Development 2. Emotional Development 3. Social Development 4. Mental Development.
The nature of development has been studied in these four dimensions or characteristics with reference to three stages of development—Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence.
These dimensions refer to their components or specific characteristics which are to be development through training and learning.
A brief summary of the dimensions and their components have been given:
Physical and Motor Development in Children:
Physical and motor developments are important both from the point of view of physical well-being and from the point of view of behaviour and adjustment.
Meaning of Physical and Motor Development:
The general pattern of growth in stature, weight, and in the dimensions of various parts of the body tends to be similar in different individuals, but there are many individual variations with respect to the age at which growth is most accelerated and the age at which the maximum growth is attained. The growth pattern varies also with respect to different parts of the body that go to make up a person’s total stature.
The process of development of motor behaviour consists both of the differentiation of individual or separate movement patterns out of previously more generalized and diffuse activities and also the combining of such movements into new systems.
Gains in speed, strength, and precision of movement appear throughout the period of childhood, but the rate of gain is not consistently uniform. Gains in strength roughly parallel gains in weight, with a tendency toward rapid gains at approximately the time of puberty.
During the first year of life a larger proportion of children show predominant use of the left hand than will be the case at later ages. It is likely that the proportion of left-handed persons would be some-what larger then now is the case if each child were left to follow his own bent.
Since, the child is moving into a predominantly right-handed world, practical steps that may be taken to encourage right-handedness at an early age may be to his advantage. However, the practical value of being right-handed is not so important as to justify an effort to change children who have a strong disposition to be left-handed or whose habit of using the left hand for certain performances is already strongly established.
Stage of childhood during childhood years girls are somewhat more ‘mature’ than boys of the same chronological age (notably in skeletal development) and they show many of the physical changes associated with puberty at an earlier average age. But boys tend to surpass girls in a majority of the motor activities and skills involved in children’s outdoor games and athletic contests. The superiority of the boys before the adolescent period seems to be influenced in part by the fact that boys receive more practice.
When the pubertal phase is reached boys and girls draw even farther apart. The average boy continues to show gains in strength and speed and in proficiency in various motor coordination for a longer period than does the average girl. According to studies of children at the adolescent level, the differences between the sexes in motor performances become so prominent that beyond the junior high school age there are not many conventional athletic activities in which boys and girls can compete on equal terms. Joint participation at this level may still meet a social need.
From about the age of eight years there is a falling off in the number of physical activities in which children engage. As children move on toward the adolescent level many of them tend to become more sedentary and to become spectators rather than participants. This tendency continues through the high school and college levels.
A part of the decline in motor occupations occurs by virtue of the encroachment of other interests, but a part of the decline also seems to be due to the fact that person encounter practical difficulties in utilizing, at later age levels, many of the motor skills which they practised assiduously in their games at earlier levels, and to the fact that their earlier education has failed to stress skills and crafts that not only are enjoyable in childhood but also are practicable in later years.
General Characteristics of Physical and Motor Development:
Individuals who stand high in mental ability also tend on the average to be some-what superior in motor abilities, but the correlation between mental and motor abilities, although positive, is so low that superiority in one sphere does not be taken superiority in the other. A child who is average or backward mentally may equal or surpass brighter children in many motor activities. This fact has practical significance for education, for in a rounded educational program the satisfaction that come through recognition of successful achievement should not fall to the lot only of the children who are intellectually most able.
An individual may be quite uneven in his motor abilities. It is true that if an individual stands high in one kind of motor performance he is more likely to be competent than incompetent in other skills, but the relationship is so low that an individual’s ability in one performance does not provide a reliable index to ability in other performances.
This fact is also important from an educational point of view: a program in motor or physical education that is restricted to only a few conventional games or athletic events may fail to give all children opportunities that are commensurate with their abilities, and in the process it may to some extent distort children’s social relationships and emotional adjustments by providing opportunities for successful achievement and social prestige to children who happen to be most competent in the limited motor activities that are stressed.
The motor and physical activities in which children engage in connection with their play cover a wide range of occupations at different age levels. However, they tend also to be influenced by prevailing customs and to fall into conventional patterns. At all age levels from a pre-school period onward the average child has potentialities for mastering a larger number of useful and enjoyable motor skills than have been provided for in the usual educational program or in his opportunities in everyday life.
The motor activities and manual skills that adults adopt as hobbies or leisure time occupations are determined to a large degree by the opportunities that are provided at the elementary or high school level for acquiring such skills. The evidence from many angles suggests that in the education of children we tend to fail to capitalize the potentialities for motor learning that would provide enjoyment and wholesome exercise at the childhood level and that also would be advantageous from the standpoint of health and recreation at the adult level.
Emotional Development in Children:
Emotion is not heredity characteristic but it is almost environmental component. The emotions are acquired from the environment. The term emotion denotes anger, fear, joy, amusement, grief, disgust and other conditions in which an individual is excited. The emotional behaviours are unlimited, but they are called by definite name.
Meaning of Emotions:
Components of emotional experience include feelings, impulses, and physical and physiological reactions.
The development of emotional behaviour parallels and is interrelated with other aspects of a child’s growth. During the first days of life the infant shows much behaviour that seems to have an emotional tone, but his behaviour seems to be more in the nature of “General excitement” than in the nature of patterns that correspond to fear, joy, and affection. Moreover, the infant appears to be impervious to many stimuli that eventually will arouse him.
With the passage of time the child’s emotional behaviour becomes more clearly differentiated. However, at no time of life is this differentiation so complete that there is any one emotional state that can be defined in terms of symptoms and expressions that are unique and distinct from the expressions that occur in other states, The varieties of emotional behaviour are almost infinite and emotion, in varying degrees and manifestations, pervades all thought and action.
As a child’s abilities mature and the range of his experiences widens, there are changes in his susceptibility to stimuli that cause emotional response. At the beginning, his emotional reactions occur mainly in response to events in his immediate environment that impinge directly upon him.
Development of Emotions:
As he grows in his ability to discriminate and to understand meanings associated with happenings that occur, as he enters into a wider range of social contacts, as he acquires the ability to imagine, today plans for the future, and to anticipate the failure, and as he gains in competence and familiarity in dealing with everyday happenings in his immediate environment, there is a falling off in some emotional reactions that appeared at an earlier age and an increase in his susceptibility to other circumstances.
His emotional susceptibility will be bound to his hopes and aspirations and what he personally has at stake. His inner state, his ideals, and his scruples, the standards he has set for himself, the values he holds, will have an important bearing on his tendency to react, to an external happening with joy, or self-reproach or anger or fear.
By the time he has reached the elementary school age, and to a prominent degree thereafter, his fears will be concerned to a large extent with imaginary dangers or with dangers that might be fall. Many of his fears are likely to seem irrational in the sense that they appear to be quite out of proportion to dangers that actually threaten, and similarly, the child’s anger as he grows older is shown not only in response to direct interference but to events that he regards as possible interferences with his desires, goals, plans and purposes.
There is likewise a shift in the occasions that produce joy or satisfaction- activities that earlier provided a challenge and a seeming source of delight, such as his first successful venture in stair climbing, or riding a tricycle, lose their stimulation value as the child gains mastery and learns to take them in his stride; in the meantime, other delights may occur as the child’s powers expand and the range of his activities widens.
I- Stage of Infancy:
With advancing age during late infancy and pre-school and elementary school years, there is a shift from ‘Whole hearted’ to more graded or subdued forms of response. In keeping with this change there is a noticeable decline in crying. Overt signs of fear such as flight or clinging to adults tend to diminish. Explosive symptoms of anger give way to more subdued expressions. In many instances private thoughts and make-believe activities are substituted for overt action.
One result of this is that the older child’s feelings tend to be rather inscrutable. He may entertain fears that are not recognized even by those who daily associate with him, and harbour resentments which are difficult for another person to detect and which influence the child’s behaviour in ways that are devious and hard for his associates to understand.
II- Stage of Childhood:
An important feature of the child’s emotional life is the affection that he receives from others and the development of his own affection for other persons. Real or imagined threats to a child’s relations with objects of his affection may produce jealousy of a severe order. Children who are rejected, or who feel that they are not wanted and that no one is fond of them, are likely to encounter many problems of adjustment.
We have seen indications of both the values and of the disadvantages that may be involved in emotional behaviour. Even the emotional states that be taken failure or lack of ability to cope with an issue in a straightforward manner—such as anger and fear-may have salutary effects. On the other hand, a display of anger or the harbouring of resentments frequently merely aggravates rather than solves a person’s difficulties. Likewise, a person may be burdened with fears quite out of proportion to what seems needed to promote caution and prudence.
III- Stage of Adolescence:
It would be impossible completely to prevent the occurrence of anger, fear, or other forms of emotional distress. However, in everyday life such emotional reactions frequently are aggravated by interferences, threats, examples, and various forms of intimidation that could be avoided. In like manner, it has been emphasized that in promotion wholesome satisfactions and pleasures it is important, among other things, to give the child an opportunity to enter into activities that provide an appropriate challenge to his growing abilities.
Frequently anxieties and resentments arise through the cumulative effect of circumstances in the child’s daily environment or in his past experience. For this reason, it is important in dealing with the child who appears to be emotionally maladjusted, to inquire as far as possible into his background. It is also important to help the child to overcome remediable weaknesses, to help him by degrees to acquire understanding of his emotions and competence and skill in coping with problems in his environment that cause anger by reason of his inability to solve them, or that cause fear by reason of his actual or imagined inability to deal with circumstances which he regards as a threat to his safety.
Importance of Parents and Teachers of Children’s Affection:
But the need for affection, and the values that accrue from in, do not flow in only one direction. Even during the first year of life children do not only receive, they also give. They show affection for adults who care for them. Such manifestations may appear even if they have received a minimum of attention or a minimum display of fondness from others.
Moreover just as the affection of an adult is important to the child so also the affection of a child is important to an adult. In a recent study it was found that one of the most prominent satisfactions which parents reported, when asked to tell about the satisfactions connected with having and rearing children, was the companionship the children afforded, the affection they displayed for their parents, the opportunity they gave for the parents to share and participate, in common activities, in a friendly way. Affection is important not only to the child but also to any human being at any time of life.
The values of an affectionate relationship are indicated by the unfavourable turn a child’s behaviour sometimes takes if he is not in friendly hands or if he is actually disliked. According to one study lack of an affectionate relationship with his parents may be a factor contributing to delinquency.
Even worse, perhaps, in terms of human distress, is the fate of children who do not rebel or fight back but carry their sufferings in silence in the form of anxieties and fears. Many children have fears which they trace to threats and hurts received from other people. In addition to such fears, many children also have fears that seem to be speak a lack of assurance in their relations with others, including fear of being left alone and abandoned.
Children likewise desire acceptance and affection from their teachers, counsellors, club leaders, and other adults who substitute for parents. There is, of course, much overlapping between the characteristics of a good teacher and those of a good parents. In a study in which children described the teachers whom them liked best, a large percentage of the replies dealt with qualities that characterize an agreeable human being in any walk of life, including items such as kindliness, sympathy, a genuine interest in children as children and fairness combined with firmness.
Observations such as the foregoing suggest that it would be well for all who have children in their care, at home at school, in camps, in hospitals, and other places, to allow themselves not only to feel but also to show in their whole manner a warm hearted attitude toward children. This does not mean, of course, that a feeling of affection will solve all problems. An affectionate teacher still needs to know the knack of good teaching.
The fact is that he is fond of children will help, but will not, in itself, automatically make him a wise teacher. Nor should the fact that affection is important lead one to make a false show of it or surround the child with and artificial structure of cheerfulness and security; or do for him in the name of affection, things which he, for his own well-being, must necessarily in the long run learn to do for himself.
Implications of Laughter and Humour:
Unfortunately, there are no clear rules that can be offered concerning how a person can cultivate or utilize a “sense of humour” in his dealings with others. The most common (and most futile) admonition is that one should not take oneself too seriously. There are, however, a few rather simple generalizations that can be made. One rather obvious generalization is that most children, even at an early age, welcome an opportunity to laugh.
Even a very sober child, whose elders are constantly weighed down by the grave responsibilities of parenthood, may show a surprising capacity for laughter when in the company of a playful person. At the school-age level, pupils are only too pleased to find something to laugh at, although frequently the atmosphere at school, as at church, is so solemn that children hesitate to laugh when something funny occurs, unless the teacher gives a signal, such as smiling or laughing himself.
Another point that is quite simple but often ignored, is that children (like adults) would rather laugh with others than be laughed at. One investigator noted that many teachers are more inclined to evoke spiteful or vindictive laughter that has the effect of humiliating a pupil than to use laughter in a friendly way.
As the child’s abilities mature, the acts and provisions that constitute his education increase apace. To be most effective, his education throughout the course of his development must be adapted to his own ways of growing and learning. This is the reason, a study of the development of children is of primary concern to educational psychology.
Social Development in Children:
The development of a person’s behaviour as a social creature proceeds apace with the development of his individuality, his status as an independent creature, distinct from others, socialization and individualization are complementary features in the development of personality.
Meaning and Definition of Social Development:
The phenomena such as affection, shyness, jealousy stage fright and sympathy are treated as social forms of behaviour.
According E.B. Hurlock’s definition:
“Social development means acquisition of the ability to behave in accordance with racial expectations.”
J.L. Child has defined the term social development:
“Social development is the process by which an individual is led to development actual behaviour according to the standards of the group.”
The social expectations and standards of the group refer to the following characteristics:
1. Social responses,
2. Responses to other children,
3. Group activities,
4. Social perception,
5. Resistant behaviour,
6. Fights and quarrels,
9. Competition, and
Factors Influencing Social Development:
These are several factors which influence the social development.
The most important factors are as follows:
1. Socio-economic status,
4. Games and sports, and
5. Peer group or gang.
These factors lead to social maturity.
Thus, the following are the social development norms:
(1) Social interaction,
(2) Social adjustment,
(3) Social participation,
(4) Social conformity, and
(5) Social maturity.
The social development concerns with personality development. The personality is more social and less psychological. In the absence of social group the concept of personality has no significance. The norms are the characteristics of personality of an individual.
Stage wise Social Development:
The social development can be studied into three stages of life—infancy, childhood and adolescence.
i. Stage of Infancy:
During the first day of life the child shows little behaviour that can be called ‘social’, but from the beginning his everyday experiences and his daily survival are rooted in associations with other persons. Within a few weeks after birth, he not only is the passive recipient or attentions from others but also is active, in his own way, as a social being. The widening of his stage of social activities parallels and is interwoven with other features of his growth.
ii. Stage of Childhood:
The development of a person’s behaviour as a social creature proceeds pace with the development of his status as an independent creature, distinct from others. As a child matures, he becomes increasingly able to enter into various forms of ‘sociable’ behaviour, to corporate, to join with others in common endeavour.
At the same time, he becomes increasingly able to express and assert himself as a unique individual. In due time, he cooperates, forms friendships, and acquires, with the passage of time, a degree of sensitivity to the wants of others and a degree of sympathy with their concerns.
Eventually also he becomes able to participate in complex teamwork, to develop loyalties on an extensive scale, to identify himself with the interests of a community or of which he is a part. In varying ways and to varying degrees he also shows resistance, concern for his private interests and belonging; eventually he understands the idea of competition, and devotes thought and energy to the advancement of his prestige. These ‘other-centred’ and ‘self-centred’ forms of behaviour, involving, on the one hand, varying degrees of self-assertiveness and individualism, are normal and complementary features of the child’s social development.
iii. Stage of Adolescence:
There is an advance with age from the infancy to the adolescent level, when children acquire a capacity for group behaviour and for identifying themselves with group interests. According to available findings, however, it is not until the child has reached the intermediate elementary grades that he is capable of teamwork on a complex scale. In the early elementary grades the child does not seem to be able to encompass intellectually, or to identify himself in a practical manner with the interests of a community as large as the enrolment of an average class, unless under direct adult supervision.
Children’s contributions during class discussion at about the second-grade level deal preponderantly with their own private experiences and concerns, and there is relatively little continuity or meeting of minds in these contributions.
At about the junior high school level, children’s contributions in fairs in the community or in the world at large, and there is also more continuity as children contribute jointly to the development of a topic or theme as distinguished from independent testimonials from individual members of the group.
Motor Skills and Social Adjustments:
During childhood years much of a child’s social activity with other children takes place by way of active play, and a child’s competence in motor activities has an important influence on his social adjustments. For this reason, a child may, through physical disability, or lack of opportunity, or over-protection, or unfortunate experiences that lead to fear of venturing into active play, be seriously handicapped in his social relations with his peers.
He is barred from many group activities, and in many situations he will be ignored or even become but of teasing and ridicule. His plight is especially unfortunate if his motor deficiencies are combined with a strong desire for social contacts and social approval. This does not mean, of course, that every child must be a robust athletic to achieve normal social adjustment, for some children who are lacking in motor ability gain acceptance and satisfying social contacts by other means, especially if they are bright or have other outstanding talents. In the case of the usual child, however, the acquisition of motor skills is of value not only from the point of view of the personal satisfactions that accrue from competence in self-help and independence of adult aid but also from the point of view of good social and emotional relations with others.
Trends of Social Development:
Developmental trends can also be noted in other aspects of social behaviour. Resistant or ‘negativistic’ behaviour is displayed by practically all children, beginning sometime in the first year and reaching the peak by about the age of three and a half years, but prevailing thereafter in varying degrees in years to come. Resistant behaviour is a normal feature of social behaviour, but it can be aggravated by unnecessary interferences and thwarting’s. Children also show varying degrees of aggressive behaviour, most overtly during the pre-school years, and in more subdued ways during later years.
Aggressive Behaviour may serve varying functions in different children. In the case of a child who hitherto has been shy and withdrawing, a display of aggressiveness may be a temporary expedient and it may be a welcome and wholesome symptom of improving adjustment. Aggressiveness can be aggravated by techniques used by a child’s elders and by restrictions that prevail in his general environment.
There is evidence which indicated that rigid and autocratic practices in dealing with children are likely to arouse aggressiveness (or apathy) to a greater extent than to less rigid, more democratic, man procedures. In this connection it also is noteworthy that limited evidence from studies of children’s responses to ‘newer’ educational practices indicates that children are more capable of assuming responsibility for their own discipline and good conduct than has been assumed in the more traditional and other rigid educational programme.
Aggressive, resistant, and other forms of self-assertive behaviour frequently receive more notice and seem to be more conspicuous than cooperative, sympathetic, and friendly forms of conduct. However, research findings indicate that in the behaviour of normal children friendly responses quite outnumber unfriendly responses. Friendly, kindly, cooperative behaviour is no less natural, no more a product of training, than is aggressive, unsympathetic, and competitive behaviour.
Shyness or ‘withdrawing’ behaviour is shown by many children in varying ways at different age-levels. A part from attention to factors in a child’s everyday life that would have the effect of subjecting him to continued failure or of lowering his confidence in himself, there is much that can be done in school and in other group situations to aid the child to find his way by degrees into group activities through helping him to use and to improve skills and interests that he already possesses or through helping him to acquire the skills that are useful in social intercourse but which he happens to lack.
School Age, by the time they reach school age most children understand the idea of competition. In many occupations, especially those in which an individual’s performance is graded or marked in terms of comparison with others, the average child is likely to exert himself more when working for individual’s honours than when working for the group.
However, the child is likely to exert himself relatively more when working on behalf of congenial group of his own choosing or on group projects that enlist his interest, than when working with an arbitrarily designated group or on group projects that have been arbitrarily assigned. Competitiveness is encouraged by the adult practice of comparing children with one another and by emphasizing the importance of being a winner as distinguished from playing the game. School marks, rating systems, the practice of giving extraneous prize and rewards may also accentuate children’s competitive activities.
The competitive urge of parents and teachers are often deeply involved in the child’s progress at school, especially in connection with the conventional school subjects. It may also be noted, however, that children’s competition can give jest to many activities that many situations involve both wholesome cooperation and competition, and that under the spur of competition and individual’s habits and skills may improve in satisfying and wholesome ways.
In their own social groups children come to recognize, more or less clearly, that members of the group possess varying degrees of ability, popularity and prestige. A school’s position in the estimation of his fellows may, however, be out of keeping with his genuine worth. This situation arises if the group standards are influenced by prejudices that children borrow from their elders, or if the values by which the individuals are judged are limited in such a way as to give emphasis to qualities that a few children happen to possess and fail to emphasize other qualities which may be or equal of greater importance.
Children’s Social behaviour is likely from an early age level to show the influence of the customs and standards of the social group to which their elders belong. Standards and customs vary more or less at different socio-economic levels and in different ethnic groups within a single community. It is important for adults to remember this fact if they would understand a child’s behaviour.
Training for Leadership is an important responsibility of education. Leaders among children usually are somewhat superior in ability to the average of the group especially in the sphere in which they are recognized as leaders. However, ability is not alone the determining factor. To be a good leader a child should also be able to be a good follower in the sense that he should be closeness to the needs and wishes of his follower and able to participate whole-heartedly in their interests and concerns. If children of superior intellectual ability are to capitalize fully upon their potentialities that will help them to be socially acceptable to others.
Friendships or Affinities between individuals are apparent from an early age in the social behaviour of children. Friends tend, in general, to resemble each other more than they tend to differ from each other in their abilities and in their personality traits, although there are many exceptions to this. This factor of propinquity, or nearness in geographical space, is obviously important in determining the range of individuals from among whom the children’s friends will be chosen.
All children, in one way or another desire some degree of recognition, acceptance and prestige in their dealings with others. Frequently behaviour that seems aimed to arouse hostility and to cause an individual to be rejected springs indirectly from difficulties that he encounters in his efforts to receive attention and approval. Even a bad child wishes to be liked, and sometimes the punishment inflicted upon such a youngster merely widens the social distance between him and his fellows and intensifies his unacceptable forms of behaviour.
The fact that shifts such as these sometimes occur has a practical implication. The school should offer, as far as possible, a variety of opportunities for leadership. An educational policy which keeps the same pupils together from year to year under the same teacher and in much the same educational programme may provide a resemblance of continuity and security. But such continuity may prevent many individual children from benefiting from varied contacts in new class groupings under teachers who differ both in personality and in educational practice.
Needless to say, it is not possible to arrange matters so that every child is a leader. Many children and adults do not seem particularly to desire to assume direction of others as long as they can be left to their own interests. Apart from desire, there are differences in ability to assume leadership, he still likes to be noticed once in a while. One mark of an able teacher and of anyone who deals competently with other human beings is the ability to draw out and to give recognition to the good qualities of persons with whom they deal.
In studies of the effects of nursery school attendance, it has been found that the opportunities there afforded are likely to promote a child’s ability to enter into social contacts with others, and at the same time to promote his ability to assert his independence. The effects of such opportunities will vary with different children.
Moreover, as noted in a study cited at an earlier point a child whose entry is delayed but who has had some opportunity to play with others outside of school may within a relatively short time becomes as active in his social relations as are children of the some age who have attended for a longer period of time. However, if a child’s opportunities to associate with other children are delayed, he will eventually be at a loss, especially if, in the meantime, he is not acquiring the skills and play techniques that are used by the group that he ultimately has to join.
Camp Experience or other opportunities for acquiring independence away from home likewise have been found to be of value to individual children, especially if they are overprotected at home and can be helped during the transitional period or if, in their regular environment, the labour under handicaps that prevent them from developing their social potentialities. An illustration of this is provided in one study (by Lowenstein and Svendsen) in which a number of shy children from different localities were brought to camp on a form and were left free to follow their own devices.
As time passed, the children showed notable changes in behaviour- at first, they held themselves aloof, then they made contacts with other individuals, and then, as time passed, they entered into larger group activities, as their social activities expanded they also showed more of a tendency to be self-assertive. Many of the improvements in their behaviour persisted after they had left the camp.
Mental Development in Children:
The child’s mental world consists in the development of ability to respond in terms of events which are remote in time as well as removed in space. The mental changes-memory, reasoning, imagination, language ability and concept formation are associated with increasing maturity. There are no distinct stages in mental development like other stages of development that a child passes from a clearly demarcated stage and have some specific features of mental development,
Jean Piaget has contributed significantly in area of mental development. R.B. Cattell’s theory of intelligence is also associated with process of mental development. Cattell considers two aspects of intelligence—biological and social factors. The biological factors of intelligence are concerned with growth and heredity while social factors depend on environment or social climate of the child in which he lives. Thus, it is termed a fluid theory of intelligence. Mental development cannot be described in terms of distinct stages, but it is true that certain features of behaviour and certain mental trends are more conspicuous at one mental age level than another.
Stage of Infancy:
It has been noted many of the changes that take place in the intellectual life of the child as he develops from infancy to mature years. At birth the child’s higher brain centres are as yet not fully developed. He is responsive to some forms of sensory stimulation, but he does not have the sensory acuity that he will acquire in time. His ‘mental world’ at the start seems to consist primarily of experiences arising through direct physical contacts with the environment and through the sensations that arise within his own body.
With the passage of time impressions received through the ‘distance receptors’-the eyes and the ears-gain increasing prominence. Through the accumulation of experiences from day-to-day more and more events take on meaning. He becomes able to differentiate between phenomena that earlier were not distinguished from one another. There is an increase in his capacity to respond to symbols or ‘reduced cues.’
Most of the experiences that befall the child during the early years of life while his mental capacities are rapidly developing are lost in oblivion. A majority of persons are unable to recall with any degree of accuracy events that befell them before the age of about three, and even then their recollections are scanty compared with the sum total of their experience.
In the process of growth and child’s mental world expands in many dimensions. As he moves from the cradle to the larger world his mental horizons widen. At an early age, likewise, his experiences gain in depth, so to speak, as the present event is interpreted or reacted to in the light of past associations. With the development of the imaginative abilities and the ability to plan, the dimensions of the child’s mental world are extended into anticipation of the future.
Beginning perhaps as early as the first year of life, children exhibit the ability to imagine and to engage in make-believe. Such make-believe activities, although they may eventually function as a form of escape and operate as symptoms of emotional maladjustment, serve as an instrumentality in the child’s exploration of the world and in his efforts to organize his experiences and to solve his problems. Through the use of make-believe, he is able to enter vicariously into a wider range of experience and to transcend, in part, his own limitations. Related to his own private day dreams is his interest in vicarious experiences that are provided for him by way of his reading, and way of radio programmes and motion pictures.
Trend of Mental Development with advancing age they trends to be an increase in the child’s ability to concentrate over longer periods of time. The ability to give sustained attention varies with nature of the task. The child’s span of attention is likely to be longest in the case of activities that he himself has chosen or that are under taken in connection with his own designs. In general, there is an increase with age in the child’s ability to give sustained attention to an assigned task.
The Development of Children’s Ability is gradual and continuous rather than characterized by distinct stages. However, there are changes with age in the range and complexity of problems which engage the attention of children and to which they will apply themselves. The younger the child, the more do his everyday thoughts tend to be concerned with events related to his own immediate experience and well-being; as he grows older, he becomes increasingly able to occupy himself with more remote issues and to deal with abstraction as distinguished from concrete experiences.
Such changes can be noted in connection with the enlargement of the meanings associated with various terms in the language that he uses, in the interest and ability he eventually displays in dealing with social issues, and in his ability to take cognizance of events in the larger world in terms of both present happenings and the historical past.
The child’s first ideas of right and wrong are determined largely by the verdict of his parents concerning acts that are forbidden or permitted. Throughout life an individual’s moral code continues to be determined to a large extent by rules in the form of conventional standards and, directly or indirectly the teachings of religion. The fact that there are ready-made conventions and moral demands does not necessarily mean that a person is being ‘done about.’ For there would be ethos if each individual, in every act of his life, is to depend solely upon percepts that he has reasoned out for himself.
Even from a rather early age, however, the child is able to formulate some moral principles in terms of the reasons that lie behind them and to adopt them as his own rules rather than simply as edicts that have to be obeyed because others have so told him.
At still earlier levels children have many opportunities to learn the meaning of rules of conduct through the natural consequences of their acts, as when they learn to curb their impulse to hit another child or to snatch his possessions, in order to avoid retaliation or the discomfiture of seeing another cry.
In childhood as in later years, a person’s ideas as to what constitutes proper conduct are likely to show many irregularities and inconsistencies. He may have right principles concerning the wrongfulness of cheating, stealing, under same circumstances and yet condone such acts in other circumstances in which his principles should apply with equal force.
The consistency with which he exercises his moral code will depend in part upon specific learning, in part upon the likelihood of direct retaliation, in part upon the remoteness of the issue from his own daily life, and, in large part, upon his desires and prejudices. Children learn at a relatively early age, through the example of their elders, to take many such inconsistencies and evidences of insincerity for granted, and to rationalize the inconsistencies in their own practices when they are called to account.
Integrated Process of Development:
The social, emotional and mental developments are highly correlated to one another. The development one aspect helps or includes the other aspects. In thinking and reasoning, emotional factors play important role in the person’s behaviour. Moral concepts include social and mental development. The process of child development in various dimensions goes side by side. Hence, the components of one aspect help or evolve the components of other aspects. The motor skills helps in social adjustment.
Educational Implication of Mental Development:
The development of information and concepts it is likely that child’s knowledge or grasp will vary considerably in the case of different topics or areas of experience. Depending upon his past opportunities for learning he may be well informed and be able to reason effectively in connection with one topic and not in connection with one problem and quite logical in dealing with another. It is also true that when adults face a problem that is new or quite unfamiliar they will make errors and give inconsistent or illogical answers similar to those that may be offered by a child.
However, changes that normally come with added maturity cannot be brought about simply by giving the child concentrated experiences or special training over a short period of time. Many of the gains that are shown such as speed of perceptual response, the ability to grasp concepts relating to matters remote from the child’s own immediate experience (like the concept of historical time), and the ability to learn and to master subject-matter (such as long division in arithmetic) do not result from coaching alone. Concentrated periods of practice or instruction at a given stage of growth cannot bring about the changes that take place over a period of years through the joint influence of growth and such indirect instruction as everyday experience affords.
Studies of children in the elementary and high school grades indicate that pupils frequently are called upon to deal with abstract and complex problems, especially in the field of the social sciences, before they have the background of experience adequately to grasp the subject-matter. When such in the case, much of what a child learns is primarily of a verbal nature, divorced from realities or practical applications to the decisions that are made in everyday life.
As children grow older, there are changes, not only in their information about affairs in the world at large, but also in their attitudes toward such affairs. Frequently there is little relationship. However, between a child’s attitude (the stand which he takes for or against, the liking or disliking, prejudice or tolerance which he exhibits) and the amount of knowledge he possesses concerning a matter at issue.
The child’s attitudes may have their roots in emotional experiences which he is not able clearly to recall. His thinking, like the thinking of adults, will be influenced to varying degrees by his desires, his fears and other emotional tendencies. One of the most difficult problems in education is to provide teaching that does not consist in passing adult preconceptions on to children, but that stimulates children to make free use of their intelligence in meeting the problems of everyday life.
A teacher should always keep in his mind that social, emotional and mental developments are highly related to one another. The components of these dimensions are inclusive. The thinking process is governed by emotional factors such as prejudices of a child. Moral concepts depend on attitudes and values of an individual.