1) Review: Introduction, Description, Objectives, and Key Concepts of lesson
2) Complete: Activity 1: Developmental Domains in the Classroom
3) Read: Material in Your Essential Library
5) Complete: Activity 2: Developmental Domains and Neuroscience Across the Continuum
This lesson focuses on the relevance of developmental domains not only to young children, but to learners through grade 12, in informing sound educational practice. It presents theories and research in neuroscience as it informs the early childhood field, which has been heavily influenced by an understanding of child development, as well as the emerging findings of neuroscience, to anchor educational practice in our evolving understanding of the mind. Importantly, this lesson supports school leaders to be discerning about their use and application of developmental knowledge in making decisions about curriculum assessment, and instruction throughout the learning continuum to optimize learning.
After completing this lesson, participants should be able to:
Children develop in different domains and at different rates.
When most people think of child development, they think of it with respect to the physical domain such as when children get taller, gain weight, and achieve more fine and gross motor control and when adolescents go through body changes during puberty. While physical development is important to understanding children’s capabilities and challenges at different ages, it is equally important to appreciate development in other domains—cognitive, communication, adaptive, and social/emotional. Children develop across these domains in unique and individual ways that vary in terms of their pace. Progress is not even; and progress is in fact highly variable throughout the P-12 continuum.
The literature on developmental domains largely focuses on early childhood.
The emphasis on 'developmental domains' is largely confined to early childhood education. As children go through K-12 schooling, the focus tends to shift to cognitive development and academic skills, rather than a more holistic understanding of development across the domains. In reality, children and youth continue to develop across all domains throughout their time in schools.
All the domains of children’s development and learning interrelated.
When children enter K-12 schools, they are increasingly treated as one-dimensional "students" (signified by the language shifts from "children" in early childhood education to "students" in k-12 education). The many strengths and areas for growth beyond the cognitive domain are often unrecognized. Yet development across the domains has an interactive effect. Understanding the "whole child"--that is, the child across all developmental domains-- allows schools to support students in a comprehensive and effective manner. For example, because social factors strongly influence cognitive development and academic competence—and the cognitive domain influences the social domain—teachers must foster learning and development in both, as well as in the other domains. Another example of inter-relatedness between domains is that children who have poor communication skills are at risk for having social-emotional problems. This in turn might impact a child’s ability to improve in the cognitive domain.
Emerging findings in neuroscience about development beyond the early childhood years provide new insights and opportunities for school leaders and teachers.
Our understanding of the developing mind is continually evolving; and educators have been keen to utilize these new findings to inform their practice. Neuroscience has established that growth, development, and reorganization in the brain is an ongoing process in the brain and not confined to "critical windows," and the depth and quality of learning is directly related to the nature of the educative experience provided. Findings from neuroscience clearly demonstrate that projects and hands-on learning strengthen students' understanding of certain concepts because multiple senses receive such information, and it is therefore stored in more places throughout the brain than when students simply listen to a lecture. The new emphasis on neural plasticity, or the brain's ability to make physical changes when learning, throughout the P-12 continuum, has also provided schools with a renewed commitment to individualized education that can capitalize on development and help ameliorate persistent "achievement gaps."
As contributions from neuroscience increasingly play an important role in education, school leaders must be able to discern sound scientific findings from 'neuromyths.'
While findings in neuroscience have led to powerful insights about child and youth development and education, they have also led to a proliferation of the ‘brain-based learning industry,’ which promotes misinformation about neuroscience, or ‘neuromyths.’ Leaders must develop savvy to help faculty and staff navigate new scientific findings about neurodevelopment. For example, brain-based learning has propagated myths that have become deeply embedded in educational thought and practice, including “right brain” versus “left brain” children, “critical windows for development,” and static “learning styles.” There is no scientific basis for these theories or the practices they inspire. Thus, it is paramount school leaders keep abreast of the most up-to-date findings from neuroscience.
LINC has identified the following resources as the most essential current resources on this topic. You should peruse each of these resources prior to teaching this lesson. There are also optional resources in the Additional Resources for Further Study under assessment, instruction, and data-based decision making section.
Trister Dodge, D., Colker, L., & Heroman, C. (2009). Creative Curriculum for Preschool (4th ed.). Chapter 1: How children develop and learn. p. 17-41. Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.This 25-page book chapter excerpt provides foundational information on the developmental domains.
Howard-Jones, P. (2007). Neuroscience and education: Issues and opportunities. Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Institute of Education: London.
To synthesize the material completed thus far in this lesson, consider the following through either small group discussion or individual writing response:
Consider the developmental domains outlined in the Dodge et al. article. How might these apply to children at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels and how would curriculum, assessment, and instruction change if learners were viewed through a developmental lens?
How can insights from neuroscience help to extend the concepts of the developmental domains beyond the early childhood years to apply throughout the P-12 continuum?
Activity 1: Developmental Domains in the Classroom
The pre-lesson activity should be completed prior to undertaking the lesson. It is designed to provide students with information on the developmental domains in the classroom.
The post-lesson activity is designed to help students extend their knowledge of developmental domains throughout the P-12 continuum. It should be completed after the rest of the lesson has finished.