What are the developmental drives during this period of childhood?
The child between 6 to 12 years of age is characterised by a tremendous intellectual drive, a powerful imagination and a thirst to seek out what it means to be human. The child’s mind begins to work in a new way as the ability to reason develops. It is now the unseen that fascinates, ranging from the traditions and values that hold society together to the structure of language, and the vastness of the universe.
Having constructed their basic personality and character in the first six years of life, from around the seventh year the child is now driven to go beyond the world they can see and touch, and to reach up to the stars, to cross continents and to travel through time. Some call this stage of childhood the period of ‘pure mind’, a time when the intellectual appetite is insatiable and there is a great love for enormous pieces of work.
This “Second Plane” of development is a period of relative stability and resilience compared with the period of childhood that preceded it and adolescence that follows. In the first six years we see the child developing as an individual within a community environment that is actively mediated and prepared by adults. In the subsequent six years, from age 6 to 12, the child’s development is still focused on the development of herself as a complete individual, but the difference is that she is now strongly drawn to understanding the agreements, rules and norms that guide the functioning of the different communities she is a part of. She also begins to reach out to touch the wider society that surrounds her.
Our hope for the child at the end of this stage in their life is that the experiences they have had in the intellectual and social spheres would have allowed them to acquire two great freedoms: moral and intellectual independence.