About the Stages of Development
In the development of children and young people, several stages can be identified. The different areas of personal growth interact with each other at certain periods to create a temporary state of balance or imbalance, which is called a stage. These stages represent successive steps in the process of growth.
It should be noted from the outset that a child is not a miniature adult. At each age, they have particular characteristics and interests. It is, therefore, necessary to grade the educational objectives according to the potential reached by the young person.
Before the age of Seven
It can be seen, for example, that before the age of seven the ability of a child to cooperate within a group is very limited. One of the key elements of the Scout method (the team system) cannot really be implemented before this age.
Certain stages can easily be identified, such as “late childhood” from 7/8 to 10/11 years old, which is characterised by a certain level of stability. It is even referred to as “infant maturity.”
The physical growth is slower. The child is at ease in their body. They have acquired the capacity for logical reasoning on concrete data; they demonstrate intellectual curiosity.
The child tries to adapt to a group and be appreciated. They have the capacity to develop reciprocal exchanges in a group. They can imagine oneself in another person's situation. They accept the authority of adults.
This stability is perturbed between 10 and 12 years old (earlier among girls, later among boys) by the occurrence of numerous changes, both on a personal level (an acceleration in physical growth, the onset of puberty, a new stage of logical reasoning) and on the social level (the end of primary school and the beginning of secondary school in many countries).
This is what some psychologists call the crisis of early adolescence, which is shown by the rejection of childhood rules, the challenging of adult authority, the attraction towards smaller social groupings etc.
This is a period of opposition and rejection of previous identifications. Childhood rules and regulation are called into question. However the ability to create new rules through mutual consent appears. That announces the development of moral autonomy and the acceptance of moral principles as a way of sharing rights and responsibilities within a group.
Between 13 and 15 years old, a new stage is reached with the acquisition of sexual maturity, the establishment of gender identity and the development of abstract logical reasoning.
However, the restructuring phase which started at the age of 11 or 12 continues, ie. it is only towards 16 or 17 that a new balance is progressively attained.
Between 11 and 16, a fairly unstable stage is experienced, during which development rhythms vary widely depending on sex (maturity is reached more quickly by girls) and under the influence of social and cultural factors.
Nevertheless, a distinction is usually made between early adolescence, from 10/11 to 14/15, and late adolescence, from 14/15 to 17/18. After that, youth begins, with its major challenge of taking on adult roles and becoming fully integrated into society.