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December 16, 2021

Every student is a wonder. As you get to know your students through the program year (or years), you may marvel at each child’s uniqueness. Maybe one student tells you every day why he picked out the T-shirt he’s wearing. Another gives away that she’s fibbing when she does a little spin on her toes. While you celebrate the traits and habits that make up their individuality, human nature leads us to look for those things that also unite us — those patterns that give us the comfort of predictability. Y4Y’s new course on the stages of child and adolescent development (SCAD) helps you see both sides of the coin: predictable aspects of human development as well as individual variations.

An Evolving Field

Human development is an evolving field. Researchers regularly gain new insights about what it means to go from entering this world to leaving it, identifying those things that are fairly consistent among us and where variations may occur. The research brief that accompanies the new course summarizes those insights and helps you see how theories built on one another over time. The course’s “at-a-glance” tool provides an overview of child and adolescent development and the Y4Y course.

Areas and Stages

Most experts agree on the practice of treating development as something that can logically be broken into chronological phases or stages, even if experts don’t always agree on how many stages there are or where the lines of demarcation belong. In the Y4Y course, infancy refers to birth to age 3, early childhood ages 3-6, middle childhood ages 6-9, late childhood/early adolescence ages 9-12, middle adolescence ages 12-15 and late adolescence ages 15-18. For each stage, the course addresses three basic areas of development: physical, social and emotional, and cognitive. A development matrix forms when you consider milestones — or standard developmental accomplishments — for each stage and area of development. Understanding this matrix can help you recognize when a child’s developmental path diverges with that of their peers, decide if it’s cause for concern and take appropriate action.

More to the Story

Be sure to check out the full complement of tools with Y4Y’s Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course.

  • The Planning Checklist will walk you through steps to include as your program considers how child and adolescent development will be addressed.
  • The Identifying and Supporting Learning Styles tool will expand your understanding of some characteristics that make students different from one another.
  • The Sample Caregiver Survey will help you partner with families in setting individualized goals for their children. Use this tool in conjunction with your Individualized Observation Log for students in early childhood, middle childhood or late childhood.
  • Companions to these goal/observation tools as students progress through adolescence and take ownership of their own goals are Y4Y’s student self-assessments for early and late adolescence.
  • In light of the threat to healthy development that too much screen time can pose, check out the Screen Time Alternatives tool.

Three staff Trainings to Go are also available with this course:

  1. Building a Strong Program Team: Focus on Child and Adolescent Development 
  • Reflect on stages of child development from birth to adolescence in four areas: physical, cognitive, social and emotional.​ 
  • Understand that even within a peer group, students can be at different points of development and therefore respond differently to their environment.​ 
  • Explore the advantages of having team members attuned to the various elements of child and adolescent development.​ 
  • Gain strategies for recruiting and retaining a well-rounded team to support your students’ development. 
  1. Partnering With Families for Healthy Child Development 
  • Reflect on how programs can support healthy child and adolescent development in four areas.​ 
  • Learn strategies for collaborating and communicating with families.​ 
  • Consider families’ roles in supporting the healthy development of students your program.
  • Develop mission statements that reflect a commitment to partnering with families to support students’ development. 
  1. Understanding Development and Connecting With Children 
  • Discuss why it’s important for students to feel connected to the adults in your program.​ 
  • Examine social-emotional development from early childhood through adolescence.​ 
  • Reflect the keys to any healthy human relationship.​ 
  • Identify strategies for building positive, nurturing relationships with children of different ages.​ 

It can be exciting to learn just how much individuality is baked into healthy child and adolescent development. Learning about standard milestones doesn’t mean that you’re only celebrating student uniformity. Instead, you’ll be better positioned to help each student on their own path to developing into healthy grown individuals, inside and out.