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Intellectual Development in Children (3-12yrs)

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 27 Nov 2019 | comments*Discuss
Intellectual Development Speech

Children do a great deal of learning between the ages of three and twelve taking them from rather simplistic preschoolers to independent thinkers, capable of understanding complex issues. Learning and intellectual development is a gradual and continuing process, one that hopefully lasts throughout all of life, rather than merely in childhood.

Early Concepts (Ages Three to Seven Years)
Comparing a three year old child to a seven year old provides evidence that great strides are constantly being made in intellectual development, covering many different areas of knowledge and understanding. Three year olds often have a beginning but limited concept of time, describing all of the past as 'yesterday' and all of the future as 'tomorrow." A year later, though, they can grasp more detailed notions, such as distinguishing morning, afternoon, and night and even realising that time involves seasonal changes, too.

Vocabulary growth and the ability to communicate their needs and wants may be one of the most noticeable advancements that children undergo, from an intellectual standpoint, between the ages of three to seven. Simple sentences make up the bulk of a three year old's daily conversations, with many words being understood by family members but not yet regularly by those unfamiliar with the child. Most four year olds can engage in conversations with both children and adults, happily relaying stories about their activities, with this ability continuing to develop for the next several years so that by the time a child is seven, they can articulately express themselves and are able to understand detailed stories.

Three year old children probably have a few favourite storybooks that they request (over and over!) and may even have a few of them memorised, enjoying the ability to pretend “read” to Mum and Dad. By five, kids may have a basic grasp of phonics and recognise a number of simple words in print, helping prepare them to read independently. Depending on a number of factors, many kids begin to read by the time that they are six or seven.

Reasoning, the ability to utilise existing knowledge to form educated opinions about possible outcomes, really increases during the years from three to seven, with seven year old children capable of drawing accurate conclusions on a regular basis. They can also understand the perspectives of other people and the concept that seemingly opposite things can be true simultaneously.

Later Concepts (Ages Eight to Twelve)
An increased interest in socialisation offers kids from eight to twelve many opportunities for intellectual development. Social concepts, such as ethics, fairness, and justice become important to kids at this age, who are developing an increased sense of self, deciding what kind of people that they would hope to become. The years preceding puberty are vital for the development of a number of ethic stances that children will take and will later be tested.

Verbal and Written Communication
Now capable of expressing themselves well verbally, eight year olds are beginning to master the written word, as well. By the time that they are twelve, many kids are quite comfortable with their ability to produce intelligent, well-thought out written work and since many kids are beginning to grapple with issues of adolescence, writing poetry or journaling helps some kids to make sense of their sometimes confusing place in the world.

Strength of Character
Though many parents find it surprising, kids today often find themselves in a position of making decisions about issues such as sex and drug use between the ages of nine and twelve years. Drawing from a solid base of sound ethics and confidence in their reasoning ability can help kids to make good choices that will help them to manoeuvre well into adolescence and adulthood. Kids who have been provided with self-esteem building tools, will begin drawing on them to reinforce the choices that feel right to them.

How Parents Can Help
While kids are certainly influenced by peers and popular media, parents impact the development of their children more than any other source. Continuing to read to and with children, playing games and planning outings that are both fun and intellectually stimulating, and encouraging kids’ natural desire to make decisions for themselves are all things that parents can do to help their pre-teen children’s intellectual development. Parents often feel a bit torn as their kids approach adolescence, fearing the natural separation that can exist between kids as they mature and become increasingly independent. Encouraging and nurturing that independent streak can be a good thing, especially if parents stay involved, even if it is just from the sidelines.

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