(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Sylwester’s new book, A Child’s Brain. The Need for Nurture (2010) Corwin. In this excerpt, Robert Sylwester synthesizes the first 20 years of development and shows how it can be viewed as a “rhythmic four-six-four-six-year developmental sequence”)
Chapter 4: Development and Growth.
The First 20 years.
To simplify a complex phenomenon, we can divide our 20-year developmental trajectory into two periods of approximately 10 years each. The developmental period from birth to about age 10 focuses on learning how to be a human being – learning to move, to communicate, and to master basic social skills. The developmental period from about 11 to 20 focuses on learning how to be a productive reproductive human being – planning for a vocation, exploring emotional commitment and sexuality, and achieving autonomy.
The first four years of each of these two decade-long development periods are characterized by slow awkward beginnings to a six-year normal move toward confidence and competence. For example, crawling leads to toddling leads to walking leads to running and leaping.
We’ve designed our preschool, elementary school, middles school, high school and initial college systems around this rhythmic four-six-four-six-year developmental sequence. We tend to keep small children at home during their first four years to allow them to begin their development in a sheltered family environment without state standards and assessment programs. They learn basic motor skills, how to talk, and how to get along with their families. In essence, they develop a basic understanding of how their sheltered world works.
At about five years, we say, in effect, [Read more…] about Cognitive Development in the first 20 years: A Child’s and Teenager’s Brain