Levinson’s first division of human physical development is into early childhood through adolescence. “Sixties” is a short period of time in development. During this period a person is capable of learning and has limited capacity for growth. According to several psychological psychologists, this is one of the most formative years and one of the most important periods of life.
Throughout the first two years, the goals of developmental psychology are to describe, explain, and optimize development for people in who are not on a path toward adulthood. Boys often achieve such goals before they attain their official puberty. But girls usually achieve such goals at a much earlier age.
Development occurs throughout childhood and most often is not complete until late teen-hood or early twenty-five. This is the “growth spurt.” The primary focus of such development should be on maximizing growth. A toddler’s development through the early years of his life has little to do with adulthood and often produces an unformed adult who lacks a firm set of goals. Such a person is unlikely to have a satisfying life.
The childhood years are the most important period of development and physical growth. Throughout this time a child is susceptible to infection, disease, injury, and malnutrition. Development occurs at an accelerated rate during this time and there is a great deal of physiological change going on. As children grow, they experience both growth spurts and changes. When they enter adulthood, the experience is much more likely to produce a mature adult who has achieved significant maturity.
Childhood physical growth generally continues well into adolescence and sometimes into adulthood. At this stage, physical changes are geared more towards enduring than improving. Adolescence is marked by dramatic physical changes as the teenager attempts to determine where he fits within the world and which direction he wishes to travel.
Once the child has reached adolescence, the primary focus of physical development has moved from optimizing growth to defining adulthood. Most teenagers will engage in sexual activity. They will also participate in marital intercourse and may eventually start to date. Relationships will become important for the child to establish and will require that the child define his or her own personality.
The primary goal of physical activities for children is to learn how to control their body and avoid injury. The primary focus of motor skills development is to ensure that a child can take care of himself. As children grow, they will learn how to walk, move along stairs, sit down without falling, and how to use appropriate language. Developing appropriate bodily language can be difficult for a child in childhood but is very critical to adult functioning. Physical education is an important part of childhood development.
When a child is beginning the physical development stages of life, it is important for parents to remain involved and work with the child until they have completed the course of physical activities required for adulthood. Parents may need to teach their child how to walk and how to use a cane or crutches. They may need to encourage frequent exercise and physical activity. The earlier in life a child starts engaging in physical activity, the more likely they will retain these skills. The physical activities that a child engages in will be the building blocks toward adulthood.
A child that has successfully completed the primary development stages of life is ready to move on to the second of the development stages. During the second year of life, a child is ready to learn how to read, write, and coordinate movements with others. Parents can help their child by encouraging reading at every opportunity and teaching writing, drawing, and numbers. Early education is especially critical for individuals who are diagnosed with learning disabilities such as dyslexia or autism spectrum disorder.
The last of the development stages for childhood is what we call the adolescence years. Throughout adolescence, children move through different stages of physical growth, they achieve puberty, and then become adults. A child that experiences this stage of their life in a healthy way is likely to have healthy habits and behaviors. Physical education is important for adolescents.
Regardless of the order of development occurs during childhood, there are a variety of physical activities and practices that must be developed to ensure optimal health and physical growth. Physical education is especially important for children with special needs. Special education classes include hearing, visual, cognitive, and motor skills. These classes help children in a positive way to develop skills and talents in areas that promote physical development. A child that gets a good start in life has the best opportunity to experience success later in life through healthy physical growth and healthy habits.