Martin and Stendler present evidence that infants and young children can and do solve many problems at a relatively simple perceptual level simply by combining objects and counting them .
After they have developed concepts , they are free from the necessity of manipulating objects ; ;
they do symbolically what they once had to do concretely .
The ability to think seems to increase consistently with age .
One experiment showed the greatest one-year difference occurring between the eleventh and twelfth years .
Many studies indicate that elementary-school children's interests cover the whole field of science ; ;
that their questions indicate a genuine interest in social processes and events ; ;
and that as they mature their interests and capabilities change and broaden .
How a child feels about himself , about other people , and about the tasks confronting him in school may have as much influence on his success in school as his physical and intellectual characteristics .
A considerable amount of evidence exists to show that an unhappy and insecure child is not likely to do well in school subjects .
Emotional maturity is the result of many factors , the principal ones being the experiences of the first few years of the child's life .
However , the teacher who understands the influence of emotions on behavior may be highly influential in helping pupils gain confidence , security , and satisfaction .
Concerning this responsibility of the teacher , suggestions for helping children gain better control of the emotions are presented in Chapter 11 .
The following generalizations about the emotional characteristics of elementary-school children may be helpful .
Typically , the young child's emotional reactions last for a relatively short time , as contrasted to those of an adult .
As the child grows older , his emotional reactions lead to `` moods '' , or emotional states drawn out over a period of time and expressed slowly , rather than in short , abrupt outbursts .
Studies of the growth and decline of children's fears indicate that fears due to strange objects , noises , falling , and unexpected movement decline during the preschool years , but that fears of the dark , of being alone , and of imaginary creatures or robbers increase .
Ridiculing a child for being afraid or forcing him to meet the feared situation alone are poor ways of dealing with the problem ; ;
more effective solutions include explanations , the example of another child , or conditioning by associating the feared object , place , or person with something pleasant .
Children need help in learning to control their emotions .
The young child learns from parents and teachers that temper tantrums , screaming , kicking , and hitting will not get him what he wants ; ;
the older child learns that intense emotional outbursts will not win approval by his peers , and , therefore , makes a real effort to control his emotions .
Children differ widely in their emotional responses .
Among infants the patterns of emotional responses are similar ; ;
as the influence of learning and environment are felt , emotional behavior becomes individualized .
Although no national norms exist for the social development of children , the teacher can find a great deal of information concerning types of social behavior normally displayed by children at various age levels .
The following summary will give the student some idea about the social characteristics of elementary-school children ; ;
the student will certainly want to explore more deeply into the fascinating study of immature individuals , struggling to meet their developmental needs , and at the same time trying to learn the rules of the game in the ever-expanding number of groups in which they hold membership .
During early childhood , children are more interested in the approval of their parents and teachers than they are in the approval of other children ; ;
after they have been in school a few years , their interest in playmates of their own age increases , and their interest in adults decreases ; ;
the child who had once considered it a treat to accompany his parents on picnics and family gatherings now considers it a bore .
In late childhood the influence of the group on the social behavior of the child continues to increase ; ;
the group sets the styles in clothing , the kind of play engaged in , and the ideals of right and wrong behavior .
In early childhood the choice of a companion is likely to be for another child of his own age or a year or two older , who can do the things he likes to do ; ;
such factors as sex , intelligence , and status in the group do not influence his choice much at this time .
In later childhood , an interest in team games replaces individual play ; ;
loyalty to the group , a feeling of superiority over those who are not members , and unwillingness to play with members of the opposite sex become dominant traits .
During early childhood boys tease and bully , on the average , more than girls ; ;
those who feel inferior or insecure engage in these activities more than do well-adjusted children .
During late childhood boys like to tease , jostle , and talk smart to girls ; ;
girls , who are more mature than boys , frown upon the youthful antics of boys of their own age .
By the time pupils reach the sixth grade , their ethical and moral standards are fairly well developed ; ;
they exhibit a keen interest in social , political , and economic problems , but they frequently have vague and incorrect notions about the terms they use rather glibly in their routine school work .
Between the ages of two and four years , negativism or resistance to adult authority is noticeable ; ;
after the fourth year it begins to decline .
However , as we have seen , in later childhood the child begins to substitute the standards of the peer group for those of parents and teachers .
The elementary-school child grows gradually in his ability to work in groups .
The child in the primary grades can play harmoniously with one companion , but his desire to be first in everything gets him into trouble when the group gets larger ; ;
he wants to be with people , but he hasn't yet learned to cooperate .
In the middle grades , however , he begins to participate more effectively in group activities such as selecting a leader , helping to make plans and carry on group activities , and setting up rules governing the enterprise .
Why the teacher should study the individual pupil
Much progress has been made in the last two decades in developing techniques for understanding children , yet in almost any classroom today can be found children whose needs are not being met by the school program .
Some are failing to achieve as much as their ability would permit ; ;
others never seem able to enter fully into the life of the classroom .
These children have been described as those who were trying to say something to adults who did not understand .
Many school systems now employ school psychologists and child guidance specialists .
These specialists perform valuable services by helping teachers learn to identify children who need special attention , by suggesting ways of meeting the needs of individual children in the regular classroom , and by providing clinical services for severely maladjusted children .
It is the classroom teacher , however , who has daily contacts with pupils , and who is in a unique position to put sound psychological principles into practice .
Indeed , a study of the individual child is an integral part of the work of the elementary-school teacher , rather than merely an additional chore .
Teachers and administrators in many elementary schools have assumed that dividing the pupils in any grade into groups on the basis of test scores solves the problem of meeting the needs of individuals .
What they should recognize is that children who have been placed in one of these groups on a narrow academic basis still differ widely in attributes that influence success , and that they still must be treated as individuals .
Although the teacher must be concerned with maintaining standards , he must also be concerned about understanding differences in ability , background , and experience .
Factors that inhibit learning and lead to maladjustment
Studies conducted in various sections of the United States indicate that many children in elementary schools are maladjusted emotionally , and that many of them are failing to make satisfactory progress in school subjects .
One study , which involved 1,524 pupils in grades one to six , found that 12 percent of the pupils were seriously maladjusted and that 23 percent were reading a year below capacity .
It is apparent , therefore , that the teacher needs to know what factors have a vital bearing on the learning and adjustment of children .
When a child fails to meet the standards of the school in his rate of learning , insecurity , unhappiness , and other forms of maladjustment frequently follow .
These maladjustments in turn inhibit learning , and a vicious cycle is completed .
It is easy for the teacher to rationalize that the child who is not achieving in accordance with his known ability is just plain lazy , or that the child who lacks interest in school , who dislikes the teacher , or who is overaggressive is a hopeless delinquent .
The causes of retardation and maladjustment may be found in physical factors , such as defective speech or hearing , impaired vision , faulty motor coordination , a frail constitution , chronic disease , malnutrition , and glandular malfunctioning .
They may be caused by poor health habits , such as faulty eating and sleeping habits .
They may be related to mental immaturity or lack of aptitude for certain types of school work .
The curriculum may be too difficult for some and too easy for others .
Teaching methods , learning materials , and promotion policies may inhibit learning and lead to maladjustments for some children .
Unwholesome family relations , broken homes , and undesirable community influences may also be contributing factors .
This is only a minimum list of the factors that inhibit learning and contribute to maladjustment among children .
Moreover , these conditions do not influence all children in the same manner .
A vision handicap that may produce nervous tension and reading disability for one child may spur another child on to even greater achievement in reading .
An impoverished home that may discourage one child may constitute the motivation causing another to work harder for successful achievement in school .
At any rate , the teacher who recognizes common causes of retardation and maladjustment can frequently do a great deal to eliminate the causes of pupil discouragement , failure , and maladjustment .
Sources of information about children
Successful teaching involves getting enough information about each pupil to understand why he behaves as he does in certain situations and how his achievement in school is being influenced by various factors in his environment .
The classroom teacher cannot be expected to be as proficient in the use of the techniques of child study as the clinical psychologist ; ;
he cannot be expected to administer all the tests and gather all the information needed about each child in his classroom .
He can be expected , however , to examine and interpret the information already available ; ;
to refine and extend his own techniques for studying individual children ; ;
and to utilize opportunities , arising in connection with regular classroom activities , for gaining a better understanding of his pupils .
This section deals with some of the sources of information that can be tapped by the classroom teacher ; ;
Chapter 15 provides more detailed information about specific techniques used in evaluating pupil progress .
Most school systems today maintain a system of cumulative records of pupils .
These records , when systematically maintained , provide much information about the children , which the teacher can use in guidance , instruction , grouping , and reporting to parents .
Each teacher has in his classroom a metal file , equipped with a lock , which is used to store cumulative record folders .
During summer vacation periods these records are stored in the office of the principal .
Only the teacher and other professional personnel are permitted to see or use these records .
Each new teacher to whom the pupil goes is expected to study the information in the cumulative record and to bring it up to date .
Some school systems provide written instructions to principals and teachers designating when certain information is to be recorded on cumulative record forms and explaining how the information is to be summarized and used .