Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Child Development Theories
Naomi Jeffery Petersen
Children change in somewhat predictable but highly individualized ways. Child development theories identify discrete periods within childhood. Different theories explaining these changes help educational leaders understand and serve their communities of learners. Learning theories, such as behaviorism and constructivism, focus on the processes by which change in knowledge, skill, or disposition may be influenced. Developmental theories focus on sequential stages that may or may not consider learning as a factor, but may be a factor in learning. The sequence of learning is a continuous process, while the sequence of development is usually linear and irreversible. Schools are largely organized on the cohort model of grouping children by age in a gradual sequence, and most states grant teacher certification defined by the developmental level of the schools in which they may legally teach. Horace Mann may be credited with both those customs, having introduced kindergarten and grade-level divisions in the new ...