Jane Addams Elementary School

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Counselor's Corner » Child Development

Child Development

Adolescence is an important time developmentally for students. The characteristics below are offered only as a reference to give you a better understanding of your child. Feel free to contact your pediatrician if you have any questions.
Physical Characteristics
  • Girls are often taller and more physically advanced than boys in the earlier stages of adolescence.
  •  Incommensurate growth of heart and body weight may result in functional heart murmurs. ß
  • Uneven bone-muscle growth and/or disproportionate changes in weight and muscle development result in awkwardness.
  • Cartilage in certain skeletal areas (e.g., tailbone) hardens.
  • Sexual maturation often occurs.
  • Periods of extreme restlessness alternate with fatigue.
  • Chemical and hormonal imbalances often occur.
  • Rapid growth results in increased nutritional demands.
  • Physical movement, rest, and change of activity are all necessary.                                                         Intellectual Characteristics
  •  Enjoys both intellectual and manipulative activities
  • Prefers active involvement in learning ß Motivated to learn when lessons are related to immediate goals and interests
  • Argues to clarify own thinking and to convince others
  • Possesses a vivid imagination
  • Exhibits independent, critical thinking
  • Forgets easily because his/her mind is so preoccupied with other issues
  • Sees relationships among similar concepts, ideas, and experiences and makes inferences
  • Seeks to find causal and correlative relationships
  • Begins to understand abstract ideas (but research indicates that many remain in concrete operations stage)
  • Makes personal-social concerns a priority over academic matters
  • Likes to discuss experiences with adults
  • Shows intense curiosity about the world and him/herself
  • Forms long-lasting attitudes about learning
  • Begins thinking about own thinking (metacognition) Social Characteristics
  • Desires to make personal choices
  • Desires social acceptance
  • Seeks peer relationships in order to conform to group norms
  • Has more interest in relations with the opposite sex, but same sex friendships dominate
  • Strives to define sex role characteristics
  • Vacillates between desire for regulation and direction and desire for independence
  • Wants identification with adults but not always willing to accept their suggestions
  • Shows concern for oppressed groups
  • Shows willingness to work and sacrifice for social rewards
  • Tests limits of acceptable behaviors
  • Needs frequent reinforcement that significant adults including parents care
  • Diminishes family allegiances and strengthens peer allegiances but still strongly dependent upon parental values
  •  Is frightened by new settings, including school
  • Easily loses track of time
  • Likes fads, especially those shunned by adults
  • Needs moderate amounts of time alone, in order to regroup and reflect on daily experiences
  • Feels vulnerable to social inequities                                                                                                              Emotional Characteristics 
  • Relates self-esteem and self-concept to degree of physical development
  • Questions whether he or she is normal as related to physical appearance and development
  • Begins to deal with and understand nuances and “shades of gray”
  • Experiences simultaneous emotional conflicts
  • Exaggerates responses to anything with sexual implications
  • Seeks to sort fact from folklore in regards to sexual development
  • Desires attention, sometimes without regard to how it is secured
  • Shifts moods rapidly
  • Can become rebellious toward adults “The Young Adolescent Learner” 5
  •  Is easy to offend, sensitive to criticism
  • Believes adults do not understand
  • May be inconsiderate of others
  • Shows optimism, hope for the future ß Displays prankish sense of humor
  • Values direct experience in participatory democracy
  • Observes flaws in others easily but slow to acknowledge own faults
  • Believes personal problems, experiences, and feeling are unique to self
  • Searches for the answer to “Who am I?”
Alexander, William M. and Paul S. George. The Exemplary Middle School. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993. ISBN: 0030768446. California State Department of Education. Caught in the Middle: Educational Reform for Young Adolescents in California Public Schools. Sacramento, CA: Author, 1987. Lounsbury, John H. “Understanding and Appreciating the Wonder Years.” National Middle School Association Web Site www.nmsa.org 2000. National Middle School Association. This We Believe...and Now We Must Act. Westerville, OH: Author, 2001. ISBN: 1560901675. National Middle School Association. This We Believe: Successful Schools for Young Adolescents. Westerville, OH: Author, 2003. ISBN: 156090142X. Wilson, Lucinda M. and Hadley Wilson Horch. “Implications of Brain Research for Teaching Young Adolescents.” Middle School Journal 34.1 (September 2002): 57-60