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What Factors Affect Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many factors which play a role in cognitive development in middle childhood. A child's home environment, the amount of time taken to teach the child new skills, and how well the child interacts with others may all play a role. Children who have been abused or neglected may have average or even above average intelligence, but they may develop more slowly. Those raised in a nurturing environment with attentive parents or caregivers often develop more quickly. There are also certain disabilities which can severely hinder or impact cognitive development in children in middle childhood.

Genetic factors play a role in cognitive development during middle childhood. Children who are born to intelligent or highly skilled parents have a tendency to be intelligent themselves. This is not always the case, but families with "good genes" may be more likely to pass on intelligence or abilities.

Genetics can also play a role because some disabilities which may affect cognitive development in middle childhood are also passed down from parents to their children. Many times the parents won't have the disability themselves, but they may carry genetic abnormalities that can cause them. Down syndrome, for instance, is more common in older mothers than with younger women's pregnancy. Although these women don't typically have Down syndrome themselves, they carry potential defects which may lead to disabilities.

Another major role in cognitive development in middle childhood is environment. Children who are given plenty of love and attention usually develop more quickly and thoroughly than those who don't. Parents who work with their kids in academic areas of learning and who play with their kids daily are actually helping them to develop important skills. During play, kids are learning problem solving, motor skills, and speech development. Children also learn more quickly if they are given the chance to explore and play with different items and in doing various activities.

The opposite is also true. Children who are neglected or abused may have slowed cognitive development during middle childhood and beyond. They are often not given the chance to explore and play freely, and they may also be ignored and given few opportunities to learn at home. These children may also act out at school, setting them even farther behind. Children who are abused or neglected also often lack in social skills. This makes it more difficult for them to interact with other children, which is a crucial part of development for young children.

Aside from parental influence, children are also impacted by the friends they keep and their school environment. Dealing with bullies, stress, and other negative influences can play a role in cognitive development for some children. Some studies have also shown that nutrition, getting adequate exercise, and having a positive self-image may also affect cognitive development in middle childhood. Just as adults tend to function better when they take good care of their bodies, children are often able to achieve more and focus better in school if they are healthy and fit.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon293879 — On Sep 28, 2012

Is cognitive another word for intellectual?

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