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Basic Principles of Growth and Development

Understanding Growth and Development The terms growth and development have been continually used in most readings in psychology. Many times, these terms are used interchangeably: although in certain respects both terms, though parallel, imply different definitions. Growth- essentially refers to quantitative changes in an individual as he progresses in chronological age. It may refer to increase in size, height or weight. Development- It is the progressive series of changes of an orderly and coherent type leading to the individual’s maturation. This definition implies that for development to be progressive, there is a direction in the manner in which changes occurs. Development is also coherent, essentially because the sequence of changes that occurs are related to each other and do not occur haphazardly or abruptly. From these definitions, one can see that although both growth and development imply contrasting types of changes in the individual, both are, nonetheless, related and complementary processes. Development is a process that produces a progressive series of changes that are orderly and coherent and which lead to, and end with, maturity (Hurlock, 1978:22). As viewed by Hurlock, development includes only changes that lead forward and excludes those that go backward. Growth is used interchangeably with development by some authors, but Hurlock (1978:23) considers growth as referring to quantitative changes and development, to qualitative changes. An example of quantitative change is change in size, like increased chest circumference, lengthening of the bones, or increase in height. Qualitative changes come in the form of changes in the nature of the functioning of an organ with resulting improved efficiency and accuracy of performance. An example is the development of locomotion which starts in the one-year old as toddling and later progresses to straight walking, then to running and other complicated foot and leg skills. Basic Factor to the Learner’s Growth and Development Two general factors influence human development; namely, 1) maturation or natural growth resulting from heredity; and 2) environmental influences in and thorough which growing takes place. These two factors are so thoroughly interrelated that is impossible to isolate their specific influences. Every individual is born with definite potentialities of development passed on to him by his parents through heredity. These heredity potentialities for many kinds of behavior patterns continue to develop for months or even years. This process by which heredity exerts its

A child is not born with skills. The other process of development that occurs through the medium of the environment is called learning. Behavior traits develop only after interaction with environmental influences. Modes of behavior at a given time in the life of an individual are not determined by heredity or environment working alone. Basic Principles of Growth and Development From numerous studies conducted on growth and development. the level of development is the product of the interaction between these two forces. Isolating the changes due to maturation alone or to learning alone would be difficult because these two factors are interrelated and interdependent.influence long after birth is called maturation. the direction that these characteristics follow during the process of growth and development depends upon the individual’s environment. learning cannot occur if the neuromuscular system is not ready. It brings about development through the process of maturation which is the unfolding of the hereditary potentials. emotional controls. Certain types of behavior which are made possible by these structures are sufficiently mature. Others. It is only when his inherited adaptable nervous and muscular systems are given the proper stimulation at a time when they are maturational ready that such traits are learned and developed. No amount of instruction and practice. or attitudes. on the other hand. developmental psychologists have established some basic principles of developmental changes that occur over the life cycle. It is at this point where education plays an important role in the development of an individual. includes all the forces that affect or influence man. for example. Instead. Heredity is the transmission of traits from parents to offspring through the genes. Hereditary potentials cannot develop in a vacuum. muscular and glandular structures are not ready to function after months or even years later. For example while the ability to vocalize and the capacity for learning to make intelligible sounds are inherited. they are the product of the interaction between his inherited tendencies and potentialities and those environmental influences by which he is stimulated. such as certain nervous. Studies have shown that a number of physiological structures are essentially mature and ready to function at birth or even earlier. the language a child speaks is the result of the language he is exposed to do during the growth process. can make a six-month old child walk or talk because the neural and muscular structures involved are not yet ready for such activities Although an individual inherits trait potentialities from parents. At any given time and age. while a deprived and unstimulating environment restrains their development. A favorable environment encourages the full development of the potentials. however. . Environment.

take place first in the head region and last in the foot region. Although physical growth attains it maturational level and stops as a process. Changes in motor performance and function. The two predictable directions during the pre-natal and infancy periods illustrate the uniform pattern of physical development. development proceeds in a head-to-foot direction in the body. This predictable sequence is also observable in the phylogentic skillsthose skills which are universally true of the human race. for instance. crawling and. In the cephalocaudal trend. 2. regardless of the culture all babies proceed from supported sitting to unsupported sitting to creeping. The stages that we go through from birth to death are always in the same order. Development follows an orderly sequence which is predictable. 1. finally walking. babies produce unrecognizable sounds to babbling before producing understandable speech.These basic principles are outlined below and explained in succeeding paragraphs. developmental change continues as long as life continues. able to use their arms before they acquire hand skills while their fingers skills follow the development of hand skills. guided by the interaction of maturation and learning. Infancy precedes childhood and is followed by adolescence. The developmental process. follows a predictable pattern. Such developmental changes which occur throughout the life cycle follow a sequential pattern which is predictable. Although developmental changes follow a predictable pattern. The second basis principle relates to the rate of developmental changes as unique to each individual. The stages which an individual goes through from birth to death are always of the same order from infancy to old age. follows a predictable pattern. Middle age and. They have never occurred in reverse. lastly. In the proximodistal trend. for instance. It is a continues process that proceeds according to a definite direction and uniform pattern throughout the life cycle. old age or senescence completes the life cycle. The rate of development is unique to each individual. The first basic principle relates to the orderly sequence of developmental change. parts of the body nearest to the center are the earliest to develop. They have never occurred in reverse. These directions are cephalocaudal and proximodistal. and adulthood follows adolescence. the rate at which changes may occur may be different from one individual to . guided by the interaction of maturation and learning. Thus. An individual continuously adapts to changing physical and mental abilities as age increases. The developmental process. Similarly. Infants.

all children do not reach these developmental stages all at the same time or all at the same age. This means. individuals learn through imitation and observation of other role models. greatly dictate the course of an individual’s growth and development. In most cases. where each individual is either born or exposed to varying factors. a step-by-step progression. 4. Development involves change. children undergo physical. There are individual differences in development. Training can produce result only if the individual has reached the level of maturation necessary for an activity. often called the “formative years”. for instance. Such differences in rate of change are determined by the interaction of heredity and environmental factors. emotional. This principle implies that the human being is always evolving based on theories by developmental psychologists. It has been widely accepted that the first 2 years of life. Erikson. As an example: Some children will change faster than others in almost all areas of development while some will be much slower than others. The studies of Freud. Although people are genetically endowed with certain characteristics. and mental changes. development is an outcome of both maturation and environmental influences. 3. 6. It is at this stage of development where individuals develop the foundations for social relatedness. Such readiness for an activity is determined by his rate of development. 5. Early development is more critical than later development. Development is the product of maturation and learning. and Piaget on early patterns of behavior led to the conclusion that early development is very important. This second principle stresses the fact that it is futile to try to accelerate an individual’s development if he is not ready to develop or experience a change. Or some children will have faster rates of development in the physical and social aspects while at the same time are slower in the mental aspect of development. that any new ability will emerge only if the essential physical or mental foundations are already existing. . and personal adjustments. These differences in development are often ascribed to both genetic and environmental influences. Although children follow a predictable pattern of development. Through exercise and effort. As stated earlier. people can act on their environments and develop their competencies.another. learning allows individuals to develop the innate potentialities. As discussed previously. This principle is also the rationale behind early childhood education. emotional well-being.

This principle clearly states that at any point in the individual’s development. 7. intellectual growth is contingent upon one’s educational exposure or family environment. each one is expected to fulfill certain social expectations.For instance. these social expectations vary from one stage to the next. Physical development depends largely on inherited characteristics. Similarly. As will be seen in a later discussion. There are social expectations for every developmental period which are often referred to as developmental tasks. such that children will grow in height differently from each other. .