It is important for educators to study child and adolescent development research because it will help in understanding why a child might act, think, say, or do the things that he or she does. With that, it is just as important for teachers and educators to know that this development has no set formula or specific time-line. The development process can vary from child to child even if children share a common environment, culture, race, or age.
Pressley and McCormick (2007) state that, “it is important to be realistic about what to expect from children of particular ages, but not to be so tired to stage thinking as to ignore inconsistencies with it” (p. 5). An effective educator is one that sets high expectations for their students. In achieving both goals of being realistic and setting high expectations, it is critical for the teacher to know what is and is not developmentally achievable and will challenge the students to be the best that they can be. During the early years of school, children have not developed the mental ability to process certain concepts. Before adolescence, children are “very concrete in their thinking, with the transition into adolescence accompanied by a dramatic increase in abstract thinking skills” (Pressley & McCormick, 2007, p. 5). This should greatly impact what the teacher should be teaching and expecting from their students at specific times of development. Middle school teachers should be expecting more abstract and information-processing capabilities, while an early elementary teacher should not be expecting that quite yet (Pressley & McCormick, 2007, p. 5). It would be unrealistic to set expectations for young students to learn how to be abstract in their thinking. With this, it is also critical for teachers to keep in mind that there are variations within the developmental process so that they can cater to individuals who are in need of extra assistance or more challenging material (Pressley & McCormick, 2007, p. 5).
A child’s perspective, interest in the subject, and their environment lead to smartness and development (Pressley & McCormick, 2007, p. 6).The researchers emphasize that, “Some theories portray children…as continually active in their own development. They decide what they will attend to and process, seeking out things that are particularly interesting to them. Educators who subscribe to such theories tend to favor arranging learning environments to stimulate children’s curiosity and exploration;” (Pressley & McCormick, 2007, p. 6). This is a great responsibility and also a great opportunity for educators. They are able to expose subjects to children and inspire an interest in subjects. Once interest and curiosity are inspired, the child is much more likely to explore the subject in greater lengths. Educators are in charge of planting a seed of curiosity and revealing the rich and interesting subject manner (Pressley & McCormick, 2007, p. 7).