The stages of child development at 7-16 years

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Childhood development that encompasses the ages 7 through 16 is marked by the early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence stages. The child develops skills that allow him to function in the social and academic environments he encounters on a daily basis. Ideally, the skills learnt during each phase are built upon to improve the interpersonal and academic interactions children will encounter in future phases and, eventually, adulthood.

Age 7

Childhood development during age 7, also called the early childhood phase, is marked by the child learning the difference between reality and fantasy, and the ability to distinguish between thoughts and actions. The division of sexes begins in the social environment as boys and girls may form separate groups while playing games or sports. Children begin to enjoy their growing sense of independence and increased responsibility. During this stage, the child learns to read and write in school, as well as form organised memories.

Ages 8 to 12

The childhood development stage that occurs between ages 8 to 12 is referred to as middle childhood. During this time, children learn societal values and begin to understand, and practice, integration into society. Middle childhood is also considered a latency stage, during which physical changes are steady and less noticeable than the changes that will occur during puberty. Learning during this phase is rule-based as children gain skills such as the ability to form hypotheses. As they gain competence in schoolwork, children also begin to grow in their social interactions. The experience they gain through social relationships with family and friends increases their meaningful communication skills. Children in this developmental stage will begin to develop interests, such as athletic or creative pursuits, and encounter more complex challenges in their schoolwork.

Ages 12 to 16

Adolescence, the childhood development stage that encompasses ages 12 to 16, is a time during which children reach sexual maturity and form an adult identity within their social environment. During adolescence, physical changes in height and weight are usually drastic during a growth spurt that lasts around two years. Girls generally begin their growth spurt before boys, but in both sexes, at the end of adolescence, height gains may be between 17 to 22 cm (seven to nine inches) and weight can gain can be around 22 kgs (50 pounds). Sexual maturation, determined by the release of hormones from the pituitary gland, occurs in girls around age 13 and in boys around age 15. Emotional development during this stage is integral to the child's development of her identity and self-esteem. Mood swings are common, and may occur as much from increased social pressure as from hormones. Increased cognitive skills, and the ability to address abstract problems, develop during this stage, as well as the capacity to establish thoughts and plans for the future. In school, the cognitive skills of adolescence shift with the increase in abstract thinking and require suitable learning opportunities to promote intellectual growth.

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