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Human Growth and Development, Essay Example

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In middle childhood, there are a number of major issues facing the development of strong, healthy bodies. These include:

  • Height and weight, which increase and or decrease periodically during these years.There are many differences in height and weight among children. Factors that influence these characteristics may be heredity as well as lifestyle.
  • Muscular development; during this stage, children’s larger muscles are more developed then their smaller ones, and they are able to do things like run longer distances, throw a ball and catch it, and eventually, can become involved in riding a bicycle and playing sports(Nutini.)
  • Motor skills, when gross motor skills are more developed than fine ones. Children may have trouble with legible writing and performing various chores, but they may be able to trace object on paper; gradually, these skills will improve to the point where they can write more clearly, get dressed by themselves, and make their own beds (Nutini.)
  • Health issues, when it is very important for children to have adequate nutritional needs met as well as the need to involve themselves in exercise or activities that challenge them physically. At this stage, children should be eating a balanced diet on a regular basis, as well as playing outside whenever possible. Children should go to the doctor for an annual physical as well is going to the dentist every six months to maintain proper hygiene. During this stage, it is also common for children to experience muscle pain, often referred to as “growing pains.”
  • Life skills, when children begin to establish more independence by taking charge of more physical tasks, such as getting dressed, eating and taking responsibility for bathing. In addition, at this age children may begin helping with household tasks such as cooking, as long as they are supervised.
  • Role of parents is particularly important during these years, since if they become involved in physical activities with their children, such as playing sports or joining the Boy or Girl Scouts, they will be helping their children begin to approach a healthy adolescence. In addition, they can help their children to develop their find motor skills and creativity by connecting their children with arts and crafts as well as activities that involve writing.

Children who speak languages besides English and must learn English as a second language when they come to the United States are faced with many difficulties when entering the school system. Some of the challenges they are confronted with are: facing “language shock,” the struggle to learn a new language in a society that does not uniformly demonstrate tolerance or embrace adversity; the need to strike a balance between maintaining one’s own ethnic identity and assimilating into the new society;being labeled within the new school system based on the ability or lack thereof to speak English;learning a new language in an environment that may be unwelcoming or downright hostile;and an inability to interact with their peers because of the language barrier (Pellino.)

In an “immersion strategy” program, all instruction is given in English. In order to help their students with limited English proficiency understand the lessons, teachers adjust their English to a level that is more comprehensible to them. In this way, the students are able to slowly learning which, while at the same time they are absorbing the content of the lessons. The teachers who are involved in these programs know how to speak the non-English-language of their students as well as English, so that they are able to help clarify the content of the lessons and prevent their students from falling behind the rest of the class. In addition, this allows the teacher to help determine whether students are having trouble with comprehension of the language, or with the content of the lesson. There are several advantages to this strategy; the students receive the majority of their educational materials in English while they have a teacher who can utilize their home language to clarify things if they need that. The teachers provide feedback in English, but at the same time, they give positive evaluations to the students as well as confirmatory feedbackin their native language (Pellino.) One disadvantage to this approach could conceivably be that for students that have learning difficulties, conducting their lessons in their language of origin might significantly slow down their ability, or stop it entirely, to learn a new language. In this case, one would consider the teachers as enablers.

In a bilingual education program, students are included from both the language majority as well as the language minority. The purpose of creating an environment that contains so much diversity is to establish a positive atmosphere that validates the languages and cultures of both of those groups. In addition,these programs support full bilingual ability and skill for both the English-speaking and non-English-speaking student population. In the classroom, one language at a time is exclusively utilized for instruction. The language switches back from English to Spanish in order to make distinct transitions between the languages.

There are many advantages to the bilingual education programs: the whole student body has a common goal of proficiency in two languages; students are able to develop strong skills in their own native language, as well as a secondary language which can only enhance their ability to function in a multicultural society; and the program increases the development of positive cross-cultural behaviors and attitudes and reinforces self-esteem in minority students that would otherwise be self-conscious and possibly feel excluded from the majority culture. The message to them is that their culture and language is of equal value with the majority culture. The only disadvantage that I can anticipate with bilingual education programs is that in areas where there is a tremendous number of different immigrant groups and languages, it would not be easy or even possible to provide instruction in all the languages spoken by the students, therefore, one would have to select which ones to utilized to conduct lessons. If I were to advise Maria and Raul’s parents about which program in which to enroll their children, I would opt to suggest bilingual education. That way,the children would be guaranteed to be competent speaking two languages, and so would have an easier time negotiating their ways in the larger society. Their ability to function well in school, and perhaps go on to college without having to struggle with language barriers would make it more likely that their futures would be successful, personally and professionally.

In human development, the quality of the relationship between parent and child is frequently a strong predictor of how children will be able to function outside of the home and in his or her future relationships. That relationship continues to be a thread that continues throughout the entire lifecycle, and it can completely shape a child’s incorporation into the larger society, in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. In recent decades, that primal relationship has undergone many changes as more parents have entered the workplace, largely due to financial reasons, but at times, due to their desires to have an identity aside from being a parent, or homemaker. While this has occurred, there has been a decrease in the amount of quality time spent between parents and their children. Clearly, this has had an impact on child development, since children are frequently placed in day care or other situations where a non-custodian is in charge of their care on a regular basis.

According to studies,the children of working parents in America exhibit lower scores in school readiness and math. In addition, they demonstrate decreased emotional aptitude and feelings of security, and increased behavioral problems (Children in America: Effect of Working Parents on Child Development, 2009.) It is believed that a child’s development suffers when his or her parent disengages from the home life in order to diverged that energy to their workplace environment. That decline in mental and emotional progress may cause children to lack the ability to form lasting and stable relationships, and may also inhibit their intellectual development and success. The sacrifices that parents are making in order to provide the essentials of life for their children may ironically the resulting in a negative impact that will persist for generations to come. One of the most significant influences on a child’s development , to be sure, is economic status. The quality of care and of life that a child will have is influenced profoundly by the income of a parent or parents. Children that are living in low-income areas, struggling to obtain the bare necessities in life such as food, shelter, and attention from a caregiver are likely to feel sad, angry, deprived, and afraid. In these situations, because their parents lack resources to meet their children’s needs and may be inconsistent in applying discipline,their children were likely to suffer from emotional difficulties that children whose parents have more resources, both emotional and concrete, to provide. Higher economic status does not necessarily guarantee a healthy emotional life for a child; these families may project an entire set of pressures as well as expectations on their children that will be accompanied by a different set of emotional challenges. Nevertheless, parental employment generally guarantees that the basic needs of children can be met. Working parents are more likely to be able to provide food, shelter,and clothing, underscoring the importance of parental employment.

In the United States, the majority of parents work; of married couples with children under the age of 18, both parents are employed in about two thirds of those families (Children in America: Effect of Working Parents on Child Development, 2009.) Although holding a job outside the home is a necessity for most of these families,the situation comes with some negative consequences for the children. Because of the tremendous numbers of parents who work outside the home, there is a great need for child care, and although the ideal situation is for a loving family member to provide that care, many children in the United States are cared for in some form of daycare situation. The majority of these children are placed in such care by the age of six months; child development occurs on a different level in such settings than it does when a child is cared for by a loving family member. Although children who are placed in daycare environments do not necessarily and uniformly experience a less healthy developmental progression then they would at home, and in fact some children placed in excellent daycare settings demonstrated better cognitive skills, language skills, and were more cooperative and compliant than disobedient and aggressive, the fact is that children who have a higher level of nonparental care have demonstrated a higher number of behavioral problems (Children in America: Effect of Working Parents on Child Development, 2009.)

A correlation has been established between children who have weak, unstable connections with their mothers, and the diminishing of those relationships even further when children spent more than 10 hours a week in daycare because of parental employment. In addition,children who spent more than 30 hours per week in daycare demonstrated behavior problems (Children in America: Effective Working Parents on Child Development, 2009.) It was felt that because the parent-child relationship was not secure and loving, the child was more likely to be disruptive and aggressive, behaviorally. In addition, because parents had minimal time before and after work to spend with their children, because of their own fatigue level and preoccupation with work, it was frequently difficult for the children to have parental involvement with their homework, either checking to see that it was completed or being familiar with the nature of their children’s school work and assignments.

In addition, because the parent-child relationship largely defines a child’s concept of who he or she is, if the parent is not present during the formative years, the likelihood that a child’s peer relationships will suffer is increased as well. It is the parental relationship with the child that helps develop a sense of what is right and what is wrong, and if that relationship is absent or limited because the parent is outside of the home working frequently, the child is left to his or her own devices to sort that out. They are also were susceptible to influences by other people that they are exposed to, who may not necessarily be the best role models to impart such values.

The risk factors for early sexual intercourse involve many different variables, according to various studies that have been done. Some of the issues involved are not feeling close to one’s parents, low self-esteem, and watching a great deal of television (Elias, 2007.)In a study that was conducted over a period of two years and examined 273 children and their sexual activity, it was established that by the age of 15, one in 10 boys studied had already had sexual intercourse; the numbers were not as high for the girls. The same study found that each of the risk factors reported increase the odds of having had sexual intercourse by 44% (Elias, 2007.) Boys who were more mature and into puberty were more likely to begin sexual activity earlier. Teens who reported low self-esteem are more likely to become sexually involved at young ages in order to enhance their self-concept or to raise the perception that they would become more popular. In addition, other groups of teens who had sexual intercourse at younger ages included oppositional children with attention deficit disorder, children whose parents had less education and those students who watched certain types of television shows on a regular basis. In fact, it was found that the more television a child watched, the greater likelihood of beginning sexual activity between the ages of 13 and 15 (Elias, 2007.)

Another result of having sex at an early age is having more sexual partners than those children who wait until they are older; obviously, those teens are more likely to become pregnant or to contract a sexually transmitted disease as well. Sometimes, teenagers become involved in sex at a younger age because they feel forced into it, as when a boyfriend tells his young girlfriend that if she doesn’t have sex with him, he will break off the relationship. Another risk factor for having sex at an early age is feeling alienated or estranged from one’s parents. Conversely, feeling a close relationship with parents might offset the pressure to have sex; when parents continue to express caring and concern towards their teenagers, despite the fact that at that age, they may be kept at arm’s length, the young teen may feel less of a need to find intimacy in a peer relationship and through sex.

Another study conducted in 2009 found that children who experience abuse or neglect are also more likely to have sex at an early age (Emery, 2010.). One of the study’s conclusions was that teens who are sexually active should be evaluated to determine whether they have been the victims of abuse or neglect. Although sexual abuse has been long known to be a predictor of early sexual activity, other forms of abuse and neglect had not been examined as risk factors. The study found that at 14 years of age, teens who had a history of mistreatment aside from sexual abuse were 2.15 times more likely to have had sex than teenagers who did not have a history of such maltreatment. Young people who had been mistreated, not surprisingly, experienced high levels of emotional distress, leading them to seek comfort and intimacy through sexual relationships at a young age (Emery, 2010.)

Bibliography

Children in America: Effects of Working Parents on Child Development. (2009, August 9). Retrieved December 6, 2011, from Knol: http://knol.google.com/k/children-in-america-effects-of-working-parents-on-child-development#

Elias, M. (2007, November 12). Study Pinpoints Factors for Early Sex. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from USA Today:http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-11-12-teen-sex_N.htm

Nutini, J. (n.d.). Physical Development in Middle Childhood. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from EHow Family: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5011581_physical-development-middle-childhood.html

Pellino, K. (n.d.). Effective Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners: Challenges for ESL Students. Retrieved December 6, 2011, from Teach-nology.com: http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/esl/

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