Physical Development

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As children grow up and begin to develop they go through many physical changes. Children’s physical development is the outcome of countless orderly changes (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). There are certain age groups where children’s development will rapidly occur and then begin to slow down. Over the course of middle childhood children tend to show slow but steady gains in both height and weight (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). Throughout this essay we will look at the motor development of children in the middle childhood phase, the benefits physical activity has for children in this phase, how physical activity can either facilitate or restrict physical development and finally the strategies that will support physical development in the middle childhood phase.

The motor development of children in the middle childhood phase includes a child’s gross motor and fine motor skills, their physical growth and cognitive growth both which occur simultaneously and have affects on each other (Croft & Smith; 2008). The motor development skills that children begin to develop during the middle childhood phase come underneath two categories; gross motor development and fine motor development. The gross motor developmental skills that children begin to learn through the childhood phase are; running, jumping, hopping and they begin to develop more refined ball skills. Children also begin to improve skills in the capacity of flexibility, balance, agility and force. The fine motor developmental skills that are acquired in the middle childhood phase are writing and drawing. Children’s writing tends to be large at first and legibility gradually increases, drawings show gains in organisation and detail.

The physical development that occurs in children in the middle childhood phase are changes in both body size and proportion. Children tend to add 2 to 5 cm in height and 2.5kg in weight each year and lose their 20 primary teeth one by one replacing them with permanent teeth that at first appear over sized in their small mouths (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). In the middle childhood phase girls tend to have small growth spurts at ages 6½, 8½, and 10 erupting permanent teeth sooner and progressing toward skeletal maturity earlier then boys as they have their growth spurts at ages, 5, 7, 9, and 10½. At ages 6 to 8 girls are slightly shorter and lighter than boys, but by age 9 this trend is reversed. Girls in this phase of childhood slightly have more body fat and boys have more muscle, after the age of 8 girls begin accumulating fat at a faster rate.

The cognitive development of children in the middle childhood phase can be related to Jean Paigets theory of cognitive development (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). In Piagets theory of cognitive development he divided the stages of cognitive development in 4 stages; the sensorimotor stage – beginning at birth, preoperational stage – beginning at about age 2, concrete operations stage – beginning at about age 6 or 7 and finally the formal operations stage beginning at ages 11 or 12 (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010). The concrete operations stage is the cognitive development stage that occurs through the middle childhood phase and spans from the ages 7-11. In this developmental stage children show many forms of logical organized and flexible thought.

Also children are capable of conservation; they readily understand that if nothing is added or taken away, an amount stays the same despite the changes in shape or arrangement (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010)/ Although children displaying concrete operational thought, show many signs of logical thinking, their cognitive development is not yet complete (McDevitt & Ormrod; 2010).

The participation of physical activity for children in the middle childhood phase is important due to the fact it provides a large range of health benefits, mental health benefits and social skills. The health benefits of participating in physical activity for children in the middle childhood phase are;...
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