A foundation in child development, and really, lifespan development, is a missing critical component in creating schools that are student-centered.

If parents and teachers all had a basic understanding of how development occurs across the school age children and youth, we would see much different, and more appropriate, expectations for children’s behavior as well as settings that support child development.  We are actually damaging children in ways that have lifelong effects through many of the current and common practices happening in our schools.

We crush creativity, stifle and medicate typical developmental behaviors, take away really important social and physical development times as consequences for “bad” behavior, and treat children like they are prisoners rather than young people.

Schools and families can work together to develop an understanding of why children act in certain ways at various developmental stages, and to respond in ways that are natural, logical and appropriate when we see behavior that is typical but not socially desirable.

We can begin to create the school as an environment that supports children through their developmental progression rather than stifling or even punishing them for acting in typically developing ways.

The most important thing about child development is that each child develops according to their own timetable.

While they will follow the progression through stages of development in their physical, cognitive, language, and social/emotional domains, they will progress through it at their own individual pace.

So all 7 year olds in a first grade class are not going to look exactly the same.  Neither are all sophomores in high school, or any other grade level.

When we understand both that child development has typical indicators at different stages that happen for all children, and that each child hits those indicators at their own pace, we can create responsive environments and interactions to support optimal development and learning for each student.