Sunday, 5 March 2017

Growth and Development

We are aware of the fact that human life begins from a single fertilized cell. Regular and constant interaction with the environment results in the growth and development of innate capacities, abilities and potentialities of a child. Let’s understand first what the growth and the development mean.

Child Development: Growth and Development


It means the growth of different parts of human body. It refers to quantitative changes in size which include physical changes in height, weight, size, internal organs, etc. The physical growth affects our behavior and vice versa. Therefore, in the simplest form, growth can be defined as body, shape and growth in weight; it also includes growth of muscles. For example, during infancy and childhood, the body of a person steadily becomes larger, taller and heavier. It is “growth”.


It refers to the various qualitative changes which take place simultaneously with quantitative changes of growth, for example, social changes, emotional changes, etc. Development may be defined as a “progressive” series of “orderly and coherent” changes. The term progressive denotes that changes are directional; they lead forward rather than backward. Terms such as orderly and coherent suggest that there is a definite relationship between the changes taking place and those that precede or will follow them.

Thus, development represents changes in an organism from its origin to its death. It is the series of overall changes in an individual due to the emergence of modified structures and functions that are the outcome of the interaction and exchange between the organism and its environment.

Difference between growth and development:

It is used in purely physical sense. Changes in the quantitative aspects come under the domain of growth. For example, an increase in size, length, height, and weight.
It indicates changes in the quality or character rather than in quantitative aspects.
The changes produced by growth are the subject of measurement. They may be quantified and are observable.
It brings qualitative changes which are difficult to be measured. They are assessed through keen observation.
Growth may or may not bring development. A child may grow in terms of weight but this growth may or may not bring any functional improvement (qualitative changes or development)
Development is also possible without growth as we have seen in the cases of some children that they do not gain in terms of height, weight, or size, but they do experience functional improvement or development.
Growth is one of the parts of development process.
Development is a wider and comprehensive term. It refers to overall changes in individual. Growth is one of its parts.
Growth does not continue throughout life. It stops when maturity has been attained.
Development is a continuous process. It goes from the womb to tomb. It does not end with the attainment of maturity.

Stages of growth and development

Name of stages
Period and Approximate Age
1.       Pre-natal (pre-birth) Stage
From conception to birth
2.      Stage of Infancy
From birth to two years
3.      Childhood Stage

(a)  Early Childhood
(b)  Later Childhood
From 3rd to 12 years or up to the onset of puberty.
From 3rd to 5 years
From 6 to 12 years
4.      Adolescent Stage
From the onset of puberty to the age of maturity (generally, 12-19 years)
5.      Adulthood
From 20 years and beyond.

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