Childhood is a state or period of being a child.
Going by the biological yardstick, a child is a person whose life stage is between birth and puberty. In other words, the period of development and growth between infancy and before the onset of puberty is referred to as Childhood.
It is a period that is a mix of wonder, innocence, imagination, fun and happiness. It is a time of playing, exploring, learning and socialising with minimum adult interference. That’s why childhood is also referred to as The Wonder Years!
The Developmental Stages of Childhood
There are three developmental stages during childhood:
- Early Childhood
- Middle Childhood
Here at Childhood.In, we will be covering information focusing only the first two developmental stages, namely Early Childhood and Middle Childhood.
Early Childhood is referred to the stage right after infancy (0 to 12 months) and begins with toddlerhood (13 to 36 months), a period when the child begins to speak and taking the first steps independently.
However, from the perspective of education of young children, early childhood includes infancy too, as during this stage, children learn by observing keenly, experimenting repeatedly and communicating regularly with others.
The development process of the child is supervised and supported by the adults during this period, which in turn leads to the autonomy of the child in due course.
The most important aspect of infancy is the strong emotional bond created between the child and the caregiver (usually the mother), which will have a deep, long term and constructive impact in the life the child.
An important milestone during Early Childhood is when children enter preschool and kindergarten, as it marks the beginning of their active social lives.
By the end of toddlerhood, the child becomes less dependent on the assistance from their caregivers for their basic needs, post which Early childhood continues approximately until the age of 8.
Middle Childhood begins at around age 9, which is the primary school age. It ends with puberty, which is around age 12 or 13, which typically marks the beginning of adolescence.
This is a critical stage of development for children, as they begin to develop both socially and mentally. It is also a stage during which they make new friends and gain new skills, which is the foundation on which they become more independent and enhance their individuality.
Middle Childhood is the time when children begin to understand responsibility and are beginning to be shaped by their parents and peers. This is also the time when social comparison happens, along with social play.
The aspect of social play is critical during Middle Childhood, as learning and teaching from each other is an integral part of it – especially through observation.
If there One Thing that every parent needs to always keep in mind during their child’s Early Childhood and Middle Childhood years, in particular, it is this:
Children learn what they see.
The word Adolescence is derived from the Latin word Adolescere, which means ‘to mature’.
It is the transitional stage of the physical and psychological development in a child, and generally occurs during the period from puberty (age 12 or 13) to adulthood (usually corresponding to the age of majority).
Adolescence is generally closely associated with the teenage years (13 to 19). Having said, depending on the country or region around the world where the child is born, its physical, psychological or cultural expressions may begin earlier and end later.
Today, Puberty typically begins during pre-adolescence, particularly in females. Physical growth (especially in males) and cognitive development can extend into the early 20s (around 24).
What is important to be noted, however, is that age provides only an indicative marker of adolescence, as many scholars and experts have not agreed on a specific definition or a rigid age timeframe.
While Puberty traditionally includes ages 10 to 19, an expansive definition includes ages 10 to 24 to accommodate a more comprehensive understanding of this phase of life.