Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Facilitating Learning: Understanding Elementary School Children

     I am an elementary teacher and I think it is but important to understand our children. These series of posts on facilitating learning will focus more on elementary school children. Specifically, I will discuss about psychological, behavioral and social dimensions of elementary children and hopefully will be of great help among teachers in widening their perspective about their elementary school students.

     Elementary school children are mostly in the age range of seven to twelve years old. This stage is commonly referred to as middle childhood stage. If based on Freud's psychoanalytic thought, this stage is the fourth stage of psychosexual development called latency stage. On this stage, traumas from preceding stage, the Phallic Stage, cause sexual conflicts to be repressed and sexual urge to be rechanneled into schoolwork and vigorous play. The ego, or the rational component of personality, and the superego, the component that consists of one's internalized moral standard, continue to develop as the child gain's more problem-solving abilities at school and internalize social value.
     Meanwhile, Erikson's psychosocial Theory presents this stage in his Eight Life Crisis in which one needs to overcome. By the age of six to twelve years, children experience the crisis of industry versus inferiority. Children must master the importance of social interaction and academic skills to feel assured. Failure to acquire these important attributes leads to the feeling of inferiority. Significant social agents are teachers and peers.

     Erikson labeled the elementary school years as "I am what I learn". This is the period for school children to learn everything they have to do, such as learning to play, sports, extra-curricular activities, academic competition all of which they learn from peers and classmates, as well as from the school itself. They are also anxious to demonstrate the skills mastered.
     In Piaget's Cognitive Development, middle childhood is the stage which he called Concrete-Operational Stage. By this period, children can think logically and systematically about concrete objects, events and experiences. They can now perform arithmetical operations and mentally reverse the outcome of physical actions and behavioral consequences. The acquisition of these and other cognitive operations permit the child to conserve, seriate and make transitive inferences. However, concrete operators still cannot think logically about hypothetical proposition that violates their conception of reality.
    On this stage, development continues to be rapid, although the changes that take place may not be as obvious and observable as those in the earlier periods. Physical growths has slowed and few inches yearly is no longer as dramatic as it was in infancy or toddlerhood. Now, the major changes are largely internal, having to do with the child's way of thinking and feeling.

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