Middle Childhood

Realms of Cognition

Brain and Behavior

  • Brains develop by genetics and environmental input
  • White matter increases which reflects better communication between nuerons
    - Body becomes more coordinated
    - Progress in gross motor (bike riding, sports) and fine motor (cutting, drawing)

Cognitive Development

  • Children acting more like adults
  • Can be given fairly complex responsibilities
  • participate in discussions of local or world events
  • Understands humor of adults

Cognitive Improvements in Middle Childhood

  • Memory
    Sensory Memory refers to a brief retention of sensory experience
    - Rehearsal: Working on keeping memories, repeating it to ourselves
    - Storage and Retrieval of Information
    - Script is a representation of a frequently experienced event
    - Working memory increases through age


  1. Processing Speed: children respond to stimulus quicker
  2. Breadth and Depth of Knowledge: As children get older their knowledge base increases. They remember more accurately because they can infer what must have happened. Helps children learn new information more easily
  3. Logical Thinking Skills: Children begin to understand their own experiences. The better the child understands their experiences, the more likely they are to reconstruct it
  4. Language: Narrative skills improve. Children can tell a coherent story. Children's vocabulary grows and their skill describing events improves. Describing experiences in their own words helps children retain memories.
  5. Memory Strategies: Children use rehearsal, repeating things over and over, to remember concepts (such as state capitals). Organization Strategy is sorting items up to facilitate memorization. Elaboration Strategy is finding a common link between items.

Children gradually improve their understanding of their own cognitive processes as they approach the end of middle childhood. Memory is influenced by motivation to learn and the amount of descriptions offered by adults.

Cognitive Development and Formal Schooling

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Quantity and Quality of formal education impacts children's cognitive abilities. Teachers' interactions with students are highly influential on students. Other characteristics help to predict cognitive competence and academic achievement across the world.

Social Cognition

Social Relationships

  • Satisfactory social relationships are important to adjustment
  • Helps children learn about other people's points of view
  • Contributes to child's sense of security and connectedness
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Development of Friendships

Sullivan's Theory

  • Children need friendship in order to reduce egocentrism and promote altruism
  • Children's dependence on playmates becomes more important as they grow
  • Friendships validate a person's thoughts, feelings, and beliefs

Selman's Stages of Friendship

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