1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Middle childhood is one of the main stages of human development, marked by the eruption of the first permanent molars around 6 years and androgen secretion by the adrenal glands at about 6–8 years (Bogin, 1997). In middle childhood, body growth slows considerably, usually following a small mid-growth spurt. At the same time, muscularity increases and the body starts accumulating fat (the adiposity rebound; Hochberg, 2008), while sex differences in body composition become more pronounced (Del Giudice et al., 2009; Wells, 2007).
In biological terms, middle childhood corresponds to human juvenility a stage in which the individual is still sexually immature but no longer depends on parents for survival. In social mammals and primates, juvenility is a phase of intense learning often accomplished through play in which youngsters practice adult behavioral patterns and acquires social and foraging skills. Indeed, the duration of juvenility in primates correlates strongly with the size and complexity of social groups, as well as with cortical brain volume (Joffe, 1997).
During the middle years, the child’s growth rate is somewhat slower than in previous years, and certainly less rapid than the growth anticipated during adolescence. Nonetheless, major increases in strength and improvements in motor coordination do occur. These changes contribute to the child’s growing sense of competence in relation to his physical abilities and enhance his potential for participating in sports, dance, gymnastics, and other physical pursuits. Monitoring the child’s growth patterns and conducting periodic physical examinations to assess growth and development are important components of health supervision. Families can provide enormous support for healthy physical development. They can also work with communities to ensure that children have access to safe play areas, recreation centers, and parks, in addition to well-supervised play activities. For children to flourish, communities must value children’s physical growth and provide carefully maintained play facilities to help their bodies develop in a more healthy way. Health professionals can augment their guidance on physical activity by advocating for such community facilities. Middle childhood is a critical time for children with physical disabilities or chronic illness to adapt successfully to their condition. During this period, they acquire a defined sense of self and a greater ability to care for their own health. Children adapt best to chronic illness when health professionals, families, and communities work together to foster their emerging independence. Full inclusion in school and community life allows children with challenges to feel valued and to integrate their disabilities with other aspects of their lives.
Historically, middle childhood has not been considered an important stage in human development. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory labeled this period of life the latency stage, a time when sexual and aggressive urges are repressed. Freud suggested that no significant contributions to personality development were made during this period. However, more recent theorists have recognized the importance of middle childhood for the development of cognitive skills, personality, motivation, and inter-personal relationships. During middle childhood children learn the values of their societies. Thus, the primary developmental task of middle childhood could be called integration, both in terms of development within the individual and of the individual within the social context.
Perhaps supporting the image of middle childhood as a latency stage, physical development during middle childhood is less dramatic than in early childhood or adolescence. Growth is slow and steady until the onset of puberty, when individuals begin to develop at a much quicker pace. The age at which individuals enter puberty varies, but there is evidence of a secular trend–the age at which puberty begins has been decreasing over time. In some individuals, puberty may start as early as age eight or nine. Onset of puberty differs across gender and begins earlier in females.
As with physical development, the cognitive development of middle childhood is slow and steady. Children in this stage are building upon skills gained in early childhood and preparing for the next phase of their cognitive development. Children’s reasoning is very rule based. Children are learning skills such as classification and forming hypotheses. While they are cognitively more mature now than a few years ago, children in this stage still require concrete, hands-on learning activities. Middle childhood is a time when children can gain enthusiasm for learning and work, for achievement can become a motivating factor as children work toward building competence and self-esteem.
Middle childhood is also a time when children develop competence in interpersonal and social relationships. Children have a growing peer orientation, yet they are strongly influenced by their family. The social skills learned through peer and family relationships, and children’s increasing ability to participate in meaningful interpersonal communication, provide a necessary foundation for the challenges of adolescence. Best friends are important at this age, and the skills gained in these relationships may provide the building blocks for healthy adult relationships.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
From various researches done on middle childhood, there is no research that has done a critical examination and investigation into the physical growth and development in the middle childhood years. It is important to understand the various levels of middle childhood, there physical growth and development at this stage of their lives which this study sees as a problem and seeks to give a critical analysis.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The main aim of the study is physical growth and development in the middle childhood. Other objective of the study includes:
1. to examine physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
2. to investigate the factors responsible for physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
3. to examine the challenges of physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
4. to proffer solutions to the challenges of physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1. what is physical growth and development in the middle childhood years?
2. what are the factors responsible for physical growth and development in the middle childhood years?
3. what are the challenges of physical growth and development in the middle childhood years?
4. what are the solutions to the challenges of physical growth and development in the middle childhood years?
1.5 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1. H0: physical growth and development has no significant in the middle childhood years.
2. H1: physical growth and development has no significant in the middle childhood years.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study will significantly impact on the middle childhood stage as parents will be abreast to understanding the physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
The study will be of great benefit to psychologist as it will broaden their knowledge on the physical growth and development of the middle childhood years. From the comprehensive analysis and research of this study, many psychologist and health workers will have a comprehensive overview of the middle childhood years.
Furthermore, the study will serve as a research tool to other researchers for further investigation into the physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
The study will cover the physical growth and development in the middle childhood years.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Physical: relating to the body as opposed to the mind.
Growth: the process of increasing in size.
Development: an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation.
Middle: the point or position at an equal distance from the sides, edges, or ends of something.
Childhood: the state or period of being a child.
Years: the time taken by the earth to make one revolution around the sun.
The period of 365 days (or 366 days in leap years) starting from the first of January, used for reckoning time in ordinary circumstances.
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