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Middle Childhood

Four different topics and how they relate to children in middle childhood.

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1. Physical Activity

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It is recommended that children spend at least 60 minutes a day engaged in physical activity. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Exercise, less than 50% of children meet this guideline. Physical activity is important because it promotes a child's overall health and well-being, including enhanced brain activity and physical health. Obesity affects 18% of children in middle childhood, which is concerning due to increased risk of other health problems such as type-2 diabetes, asthma, and heart problems. Unfortunately some schools are part of the problem by offering P.E. only once a week and no recess. Children who don't have access to a safe outdoor area after school are especially hurt by the lack of time allotted for physical activity during the school day.

2. Creativity

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It is important to foster creativity in the classroom and encourage divergent thinking. This encourages children to think outside the box and come up with new ideas to solve problems. Use of creativity in the classroom keeps children engaged and enthusiastic about learning. Asking open-ended rather than yes/no questions is one way to incorporate creativity in reading and writing. Using unconventional materials, hands-on learning activities, team-building exercises and having discussions are all ways to foster creativity in math, science and social studies.

3. Sibling Relationships

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Conflict between siblings peaks during middle childhood. During this time siblings argue over privacy, possessions, and parental attention. Age difference, gender and parent differential treatment all contribute to sibling rivalry. Siblings closer in age tend to fight more often, as do opposite-gender siblings. Several factors explain why conflict peaks during middle childhood: increased cognitive ability (to manipulate); industry vs inferiority (children are more aware of their weaknesses and compared to their siblings); and increased social skills (children create more skilled arguments and comebacks). The good news about sibling relationships is that conflict tapers off by adolescence, and it gives children an opportunity to practice conflict resolution skills.

4. Race & Gender

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Children in middle childhood become aware of the different social categories they belong in. As they become aware of their different identities in varying contexts they begin to construct multiple identities. Their self-image is created in part through their looking-glass self, meaning children view themselves as others see them. A study from the University of Washington found that children view gender as their third most important social identity (after being a son/daughter and student). Race was ranked as the least important identity except for students of color, who were more aware of and showed more pride in their racial identity.

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