The Middle Childhood Development

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 10
Words: 2747
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: Bachelor


Middle childhood is characterized by a steady growth process across all four dimensions: cognitive, physical, social, and emotional. The growth across the physical and motor areas is a continuation of the previous development stage. However, cognitive growth experiences greater advances, an observation also made in the emotional and social skills. The rationale is that children in this development stage are school-going, which exposes them to larger social circles both at home and school (Leach et al., 2021). According to DelGiudice (2018), middle childhood conventionally comprises children between the ages of 6 and 11 years. Middle childhood marks a spectacular transition from early childhood to adolescence and marks massive improvements in social behaviors and cognition. The purpose of this report is to present the typical development of middle childhood between 7 and 10 years. The focus will be on the development milestones and their teaching strategies across four domains: social, cognitive, emotional, and physical. The implications for the classroom and pedagogical strategies for each domain are outlined.

Physical Development

The age between 7 and 10 years comprises middle childhood where physical growth takes place dramatically. Physical development in this stage is characterized by significant variations in growth patterns caused by such aspects as gender, genetics, hormones, ethnic origin, environment, disease, or nutrition. This means that while the children in middle childhood may display the same developmental patterns, they hardly mature at the same rate. For example, most girls undergo a pre-adolescent growth spurt at around the ages between 9 and 10 years. On the contrary, most of the boys tend to experience a similar growth spurt between 11 and 12 years. Delayed growth may occur as a result of inadequate nutrition or medical attention. The key physical growth in middle school can be observed across the physical changes, brain development, motor skills, and health issues.

Physical Changes

The beginning of middle childhood is characterized by children adopting leaner and more athletic appearances. Both genders display similar body shapes and proportions until they reach puberty, where sexual maturity begins. Secondary sexual characteristics emerge after puberty, which is where girls develop curves and breasts while boys get bigger shoulders and deeper voices. Both genders grow by an average of 2 to 3 inches per year while gaining about 7 pounds annually until puberty. A key distinction between boys and girls is that throughout the development stage, girls are smaller and have less muscle mass than boys. However, the anomaly shifts when girls reach puberty, where they become considerably larger than boys of similar age.

Brain and Nervous System

Middle childhood experiences growth in the brain and nervous systems manifested through complex cognitive and behavioral abilities. A growth spurt in the brain takes place by around 8 or 9 years where the brain size is nearly that of an adult. Specific structures include the frontal lobes, located just under the skull, which are responsible for reasoning, social judgment, and planning. Some of the development in the brain will be covered in detail in the cognitive development dimension. In terms of motor skills, physical development includes the use of large bodily movements. This means that children can run, jump, balance, and climb, as well as accomplish most physical activities.


Health is a critical element of physical development in middle childhood. Overall, middle childhood is considered to be a very healthy stage with only minor illnesses associated with early childhood, including coughs, colds, and stomachaches, becoming less likely. There is improved resistance to illness due to increased immunity from past exposures. However, major illnesses can become part of the life of a child at this age, most of which are associated with the general population.

Classroom Implications and Pedagogic Strategies

Physical development in middle childhood can be critical for the well-being of the child. Children at this age are already school-going, which means that the classroom implications include developing an effective learning environment that supports physical development. In this case, the main pedagogical strategy is the use of play. According to Riede et al. (2018), play is critical for learning, which means that these exercises are purposeless. As a pedagogical strategy, the exploratory play could comprise simple activities that allow children to learn through engaging with their environment. In this case, the key focus will be on the types of play activities that are more physical, which should help the children with their physical development. The motor skills can be developed through such activities as running and jumping and other physical activities that can be designed for the teachers. More playtime for children in middle childhood means they can exercise with their muscles and brain at the same time. While play can develop naturally, the classroom implication for this dimension is that educators can design the play activities to suit the specific physical growth needs of the children.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development in middle childhood is manifested through dramatic changes in cognitive abilities. As mentioned earlier, middle childhood comprises school-going children, which means that organized school experiences afford the children enhanced intellectual options. In this case, the children help develop skills necessary in the transition into adolescence. Additionally, the children become systematic thinkers on multiple topics. Keener metacognition develops alongside a sense of their inner world. Problem-solving skills increase in what such psychologists as Piaget refer to as the concrete operational stage (Hanfstingl et al., 2019). School-age children are limited to thinking concretely in definite, tangible, uni-directional, and exact terms. The thinking process changes significantly during the concrete operational stage. As a result, the children can engage in such activities as classification and serial ordering. A stable identity is formed and the children recognize how physical properties remain constant. Many of the cognitive development issues can be explored from the multiple cognitive theories. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that general cognitive development is manifested through memory and childhood intelligence.


Middle childhood is associated with the development of metamemory, which is associated with the ability to comprehend the nature of memory. Metamemory helps the children sense the study times needed for such events as school tests. The information processing theory posits that the memory capacity of children increases alongside the ability to use it. The memory skills allow the children to process and store larger amounts of information and to reliably retrieve the information when needed. In middle childhood, the children can use this ability to accomplish tests, homework, and other academic activities. More complexity develops in how children organize the information they remember. For instance, the use of memorization strategies may increase among school-going children.

Childhood Intelligence

Intelligence is another major indicator of cognitive development in middle childhood. Intelligence can be defined as an inferred cognitive capacity associated with an individual’s adaptation, knowledge, and the ability for reasoning and purposeful acting. The levels of intellectual attainment have been divided in terms of the mental age to yield the intelligence quotient (IQ). Even though the IQ of an individual is fairly constant across the entire life, considerable achievements in this regard can be observed in the middle childhood development stage.

Attention and Meta-Cognition

Cognitive development in middle childhood is shown in attention and meta-cognition. Regarding attention, the children become more efficient in processing input. Additionally, their attention span becomes longer and more reliable, and more pronounced. They can sustain attention towards a topic, including in such contexts as the classroom in an educator’s lesson plan. A key observation is that children in middle childhood can deliberately avoid distractions. The net effect is that children become more efficient learners and become more tolerable and benefit from classroom instruction. However, it is important to acknowledge that some children in this age do not experience some of these cognitive developments, which results in such conditions as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In school, such children tend to struggle with their attention in an increasingly attention-demanding environment.

Metacognition is associated with the continued growth of the overall knowledge of middle childhood-age children. They become better organized, which is seen as a byproduct of the ever-expanding cognitive skills. The growing knowledge is responsible for the maturity of the metacognitive abilities. The main idea in metacognition is that it entails the ability of individuals to pay attention to their mental states and to deploy the information to become more efficient problem solvers. Self-regulation is one of the best examples of metacognitive abilities, which is attributed to a child’s ability to work towards a set goal.

Classroom Implications and Pedagogical Strategies

The milestones on the cognitive development in middle childhood described above have several implications for the classroom. The most important implication is the fact that the children in this stage are active learners, which means that the central focus should be on the acquisition of knowledge and its use in solving problems and making critical decisions. In other words, the instruction material in the classroom should be designed to improve the cognitive skills, memory, and metacognition of the learners. Pedagogical strategies can be developed based on the broader objective of the educator. In this case, the development of cognitive abilities, including reasoning, self-perception, use of logic, and intellectual development is the ultimate object. Several theorists have helped shape pedagogy, which means that their insights can be used as the basis for strategy development. The recommended strategies include the integration of pros and visual aids, incorporating actions into instructions, and learning through observation. Additionally, structured development strategies can be implemented to encompass language development, imitation, and memory development. Lastly, hands-on problem-solving techniques should be taught to help learners solve abstract problems logically.

Social and Development

The social development dimension can be described as the process through which individuals acquire and build social relationships. During middle childhood, children tend to grow more independent from family and friends and think more about their future. They understand their place in the world and pay more attention to social relations and friendships. This is the state in which children seek to be accepted by their peers. The ability to navigate the social world is critical in building critical social relations, which is important for the current and future adjustments in children.

There is a drastic change in the social lives of children from early to middle childhood. However, a key observation is that all social relations for middle childhood individuals are supervised by adults, which often takes place within the home environment (Lecce & Devine, 2021). For the school-going children, the teachers are responsible for supervising how children relate and interact with others. Social development is often discussed alongside emotional development since they both influence the overall ability of the children to engage with their environment. Among the major milestones in social development can be manifested in the interactions and relations with peers and adults, as well as the identity of self in relation to others.

Interactions and Relationships with Adults

Social development in middle childhood is characterized by frequent interactions with adults, especially those that are involved in the child’s life. At home, the adults comprise the parents and family members while at school, the adults include the teachers. Middle childhood schools develop the ability to respond to and engage with them through predictable interactions. The skills used are used to develop interactions with less familiar adults. In terms of relationships, middle childhood allows children to form close relationships with all those involved with consistent nurturance, which influences the capacity to learn and develop. Children often use these relationships to develop their sense of self and understanding of others.

Interaction and Relationship with Peers

As children grow, they come to know other children over a period of time, either in a family or neighborhood setting. The interactions that ensue provide the children an opportunity to develop social connections. At this stage, it can be observed that children increasingly display a tendency to play ad be with friends. Such a preference is diminished when the children do not have a relationship with the other children. At school, teachers often provide a safe environment for the children to develop social interactions. Relationships are a critical part of the child’s development, both cognitively and emotionally. The nature of the interactions may vary and become increasingly complex as time passes. Additionally, cooperative activities develop, which helps children explore their interests in others and learn the basic rules of social interactions and behaviors.


The core idea behind social development is that children in middle childhood get to build awareness of themselves and others. Self-identity or awareness is manifested through various activities, including responding to the various social interactions when needed. The identity of self allows the children to develop an understanding of their roles with the broader social environment comprising families, friends, and the entire community. Most importantly, children recognize their characteristics and preferences alongside those of others.

Classroom Implications and Pedagogical Strategies

As mentioned earlier, the teachers are responsible for creating a favorable environment for the children to develop social skills and abilities. Therefore, the main classroom implication is that the learning materials and instructions should boost the social development of the children. In this case, the educators determine how children interact in groups either through group work or in other activities, including play. Multiple pedagogical strategies can be used to enhance social development in middle childhood. According to Sørlie et al. (2021), the bioecological model proposes that proximal processes are the main enablers of human social development. Therefore, such strategies as positive relationship building in the classroom among the learners are critical. Additionally, enhancing the teacher-student relationships should be prioritized, especially since the educator plays the role of the guardian when the children are in school. In this case, the teacher should be the first person with whom the children form a relationship, which can then be extended to fellow students through processes deliberately developed for this purpose.

Emotional Development

The ideas of self-concept or identity have been described above. In middle childhood, these aspects are founded on the emotional experiences of the child. At this development stage, children display an increased capacity for self-reflection, which helps thein gain an understanding of self-conscious emotions. Middle childhood is the stage at which the children recognize the emotions of other people. As such, they can communicate emotions through language and expressions. Another key feature is that the children can regulate their own emotions due to the self-reflection and the development of the concepts of self. Therefore, the major milestones in emotional development include the expression of emotions, empathy, regulation of emotion, and impulse control.

The expression of emotion can be done through vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions. The ability to use language to express emotions helps the children solicit the social support they need from others. In this case, temperament plays a critical role in emotional expression. Additionally, emotional expression is a tool used by middle childhood children to regulate their interactions with other people. Empathy can be described as the ability to experience the emotions of another individual. Children in middle childhood have developed a capacity for empathy, which facilitates prosocial behavior. Emotional regulation allows children to deal with emotionally-charged situations, which are greatly influenced by such aspects as culture. Lastly, impulse control helps middle childhood children adapt to social situations by following the relevant rules.

Classroom Implications and Pedagogical Strategies

Emotional development is critical in regulating how children interact with other people. Therefore, the main classroom implication for this dimension is that teachers should create a presence that can be felt whenever the learners need social support. This way, a teacher can understand the emotional needs of the children, which can be used to build even better classroom environments. Supportive atmospheres revolve around the teachers creating an environment that caters to the emotional wellbeing of the children. Emotional support from the teachers can be supplemented by improved social interactions among the learners. In terms of pedagogical strategies, shared life experiences and stimulated discussions are some of the structured programs that help the students engage their emotions.


This report has presented the development of middle childhood across four dimensions. A key observation is that this is a critical developmental stage since all the milestones achieved are integral in the transition into late childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood. The changes are often rapid and dramatic, which means that the children are increasingly developing their abilities to become part of society. the classroom implications and pedagogical strategies recommended have focused on the school context and what teachers to further aid the development processes.


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Lecce, S., & Devine, R. (2021). Social interaction in early and middle childhood. In H. Ferguson, & E. Bradford, The cognitive basis of social interaction across the lifespan (pp. 47-69). Oxford University Press.

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