Erik Erikson

The Focus on Psychosocial Development
  • Industry vs. Inferiority: During the Middle School age, Erikson believes that recognition is a big asset to a child's life. He sees that children start to erik_erikson.jpg new skills and start to master skills that adults, such as parents, should give recognition to their kids. For example when they complete projects or accomplish athletic or artistic performances children want to see acknowledgment in their work. When they start to realize they are good with something they will continue to repeat this skill or also move on to other challenging skills to better themselves in life. The pattern of your child working hard and mastering lengthening a certain task, is known as industry. Inferiority on the other hand is, when children feel they are punished for their hard work or efforts and when they understand they cannot meet their parental or adult needs they develop inferiority.

As a parent, it is important to encourage your child at this age to try new activities, such as sports or arts. While they are accomplishing a new task, parents need to recognize that and continue to praise and encourage their child. At this age, children need to feel they are accomplishing activities that adults do, it is an important strategy as a parent to remember their child wants to be accepted.

Jean Piaget

The Focus on Cognitive Development
  • Cognitive Development and the Interaction with Physical Environment: Piaget believes that children should be manipulating the world around them and experiencing and interacting with others as much as possible. I believe ideas and experiences like this can result in outside play such as being more active during recess or lunch, day care such as experiences and playing with new friends and people around you, and also physical activities such as being involved with sports teams. Piaget believes that little things such as experiments, objects, or even physical activity such as throwing or catching the ball can strengthen the child's mind. He believes that team sports and group activities can strengthen the understanding of physical phenomena.
  • Concrete and Formal Operations: Concrete Operations relate with stages such as adult like logic and real life situations. An example is when children start jean-piaget1.png thoughts and feelings of their own and realizing that their thoughts and feelings are different than others. In our classroom when children came visit us they got to read, draw, and play with objects with us as we went through a process known as Conservation. In the ages of 6 and 7, your child will start to understand that the amount with stay the same if nothing is added or taken away, even if the amount on the table or size of the object looks larger then before. Formal operations include the stages when children at the age of 11 or 12 start to understand math and science a lot better. Such examples are: reasoning about abstract, and contrary-to fact ideas, separation and control of variables, proportional reasoning, and idealism. These symptoms create children to understand decimals, multiplication, ratios, and fractions, ability to understand hypothesis', and an ability to recognize social and political practices.

Lawrence Kohlberg

The Focus on Moral Development
Kohlberg believed moral development is a constructive process. He characterized his belief in the development of moral reasoning by a sequence of 6 stages grouped into 3 levels. Middle childhood falls into the first 2 levels of moral reasoning which contains the first 3 stages.

  • Preconventional: The earliest least mature form of moral reasoning. The child has not yet adopted or internalized society's conventions regarding right and wrong.
    • Stage 1: Focuses on consequences.
    • Stage 2: Depends on his/her feelings alone.

  • Conventional: Characterized by acceptance of society's conventions regarding right and wrong. Individuals obey rules and follows society's norms even when there are no consequences for obedience or disobedience.
    • Stage 3: Good boy/Good girlimage002.jpg

Throughout middle childhood, Kohlberg would say that your child probably is in the preconventional or the conventional level of moral development, specifically stages 1-3. Middle childhood children have not quite met the requirements for stage 4 which is law and order. Most of their reasoning is based upon the consequences they know they may face if something bad happens, his or her feelings about the dilemma itself, and the idea of striving to be a good boy or girl and thinking about what their parents or teachers expect of them.

There are definitely some factors that affect your child's' moral development. These include their general cognitive development, their sense of self, interactions with peers, adults' reasons and rationales, exposure to moral issues and religion. In order to ensure and improve your childs moral development, I suggest giving them exposure to moral dilemmas by talking about different situations that may be immoral. Also, if your child's moral development lies in stage 1, open discussion about the actual problem will help them practice less consequence-based thinking when solving a moral dilemma. I would encourage you to show them movies or films which may have a moral dilemma in the plot. That would start a good discussion on the topic and like Kohlberg believes, exposure to the moral dilemmas will help promote development.

Lev Vygotsky

The Focus on Cognitive Development
Vygotsky believed that the adults in any society foster children's learning and development in an intentional and somewhvygotsky.jpgat systematic manner. More specifically, adults engage children in meaningful an challenging activities, show them how to use various physical and cognitive tools to facilitate their performance, and help them make sense of their experiences. He emphasized the importance of adult instruction and guidance for promoting cognitive advancements.


Vygotsky uses the terminology, the zone of proximal development, which basically explains that children learn very little from performing tasks they can already do independently. Instead they develop primarily by attempting tasks they can accomplish in collaboration with a more competent individual. A strategy I would employ would be to encourage adult/child interaction and also encourage parents to let the children help them with projects around the house, or with work, or extra-curricular activities. Instead of asking them to take the garbage out like they do every week, ask them to help you do a load of laundry so they get the experience of how to wash their clothes.

Howard Gardner

The Focus on Cognitive Development

Gardner was most famous for his Theory of Multiple Intelligences which suggest that the traditional IQ test is a biased way of measuring intelligence because the questions can be misinterpreted by children from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Gardener's work aims to disprove the common perception that intelligence is solely based off of one's reading, writing an arithmetic skills. There are 8 established primary intelligences, an individual may excel in a few of these, but nobody's good at them all. By looking at some of the questions on the IQ Test, you can see for yourself how the questions can be confusing.
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When teaching in a classroom or at home, it is extremely important to keep in mind that each child has their own strengths and weaknesses. Gardner would advise you to pay close attention to strengths and weaknesses and further develop and encourage students. It is important to remind children that they cannot be good at everything and to get better at areas in which they struggle, they must practice. If a child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns. Keep in mind what kind of learners each child is: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic and tailor your lessons to them. For example, at home, you can help your child who is a visual learner with their multiplication tables by making note cards of certain tables and placing them around the house so they constantly are reminded of the answer.


B.F.Skinner

Do you have to convince your children to do chores for a treat?
Skinner believes that children will work for praises, rewards (food, candy), physical contact. Children will avoid behaviors that may lead to punishment.bf-skinner-sm.jpg

Social Learning Theory applies to Skinner's beliefs, this theory means, "focus on children's beliefs and goals influence their actions and how they often learn by observing others" (McDevitt). Children between the ages of 6-10 often are bribed to do something, they want to do their chores, or homework because they get a reward for doing that activity.

Teachers, parents, grandparents, whomever is surrounded by children must understand the strategies of Skinners theory. It's simple, if you reward your child for their efforts, then they will want to continue doing well. If they get punished for doing something, then they tend to avoid being in that circumstance. For example, I want my child to clean their room, if he cleans his room, then he will get to play for an extra hour. However, if he does not clean his room, then he does not get to watch television for a week. Stating this to a child, will then give them the problem and the outcome, and the child gets to choose what he or she will end up doing.