Achievement for All Ch1

Chapter 1: Physical Development


Characteristics of Physical Development:

  • rapid, irregular physical growth
  • body changes that create awkwardness
  • varying maturity rates
  • restlessness and fatigue due to hormones
  • need for daily physical activity
  • junk food preference
  • sexual awareness
  • body change concerns
  • seeks info on sex and health
  • high-risk sexual behavior
  • poor habits

The key classroom factors are: physical activity, sexual awareness and awkwardness caused by bodily changes.  8th graders, especially boys, are very “hyperactive”.  They NEED movement.  Use transitions or kinetic activities to alleviate this, which will also improve classroom behaviors.  Awkwardness will cause students to withdraw and not participate in class.  This is a very delicate position to tackle.  Start with small groups of peers that these students relate to.  As they grow in confidence and skill, swap groups around to eventually include all students.  The results of sexual awareness is many.  Students will start to blurt out in classes or “act up” in order to gain recognition from the opposite sex.  Conversations become side tracked with innuendo, and the choice of wording becomes important.

Risk Factors in Early and Late Maturing  of Girls and Boys:

Girls:     Early Maturing                                        Late Maturing

  • Lower Self Esteem                                        * Four times the rate of self-harm (cutting, poisoning, etc)
  • More Depression
  • Poorer Body Image
  • Earlier Sexual Activity
  • Higher Level of Pregnancy
  • Harsh Parenting
  • Absence of Biological Father
  • Lower Grades (failure by 9th grade)
  • More Vulnerable to Sexual Abuse

Boys:     Early Maturing                                        Late Maturing

  • More Aggressive                                          * More Anxious, Depressed and Afraid of Sex
  • More Delinquent                                         * Four times the rate of self-harm (cutting, poisoning, etc)
  • More Alcohol Abuse
  • Absence of Biological Father
  • Lower Grades (failure by 9th grade)

Stress, illness, violence, divorce and addiction can cause puberty early in students.  Early puberty correlates to the absence of a biological father and increased early sexual activity.  In all cases, students will need support through these times, and normally from someone other than a parent.


  1. Students are normally sleep deprived, they are more alert in the evening than morning so they tend to stay up late.  This causes problems when getting up early for school- they feel sleepy in classes.
  2. Females tend to be on a monthly hormonal swing, Males operate on a daily one.   This explains shifts in behavior throughout the day- sometimes a class schedule switch is needed for these students.
  3. Adolescents tend to worry about an “imaginary audience.”  They tend to have exaggerated concepts about how others think of them.
  4. Most students gorge themselves often, their body is always wanting food.  Normally this tends to be the wrong food types: soda, candy, fried foods.  While they are getting the calories they need, they are not getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients.  Only half of US adolescents get the recommended 15 mg of Iron and 85% of females do not consume enough calcium.
  5. Skipped breakfast normally results in unresponsiveness, poor academic performance and decreased attention span.
  6. Students typically develop some sort of eating disorder because of heightened awareness of body image.

How Physical Development is Effected by Under-Resources Enviroments:

  1. Factual information about body changes is limited.  It is normally gained from family and friends who may not have their facts correct.
  2. Food is normally high in fats and empty carbohydrates since it’s cheaper than proteins, fruits and vegetables.  Poverty is defined by not having a protein in their diet on a daily basis.  By this definition from the UN, only 20% of the world is not in poverty.
  3. There is a greater level of stress, relating to early puberty and higher level of teen sexual activity.  This typically results in early teen pregnancies.
  4. Sleep is problematic, typically background noise it drown out by TV or music at a loud volume level.  There tends to be multiple individuals sleeping in one room; causing erratic schedules, sleeping in clothes and an absence of alarm clocks.  In a violent neighborhood, there is a heightened sense of alertness preventing the deep sleep that is needed.
  5. Physical activity is limited since space is limited.  Participation in sports is also limited because of the problem of transportation, discouraging many adolescents from participating at later ages because of a feel of “being behind” in sport skills.
  6. Sexual activity is related to culture and peers.  Being a “real man or woman” typically equates in having a child.  This leads to an increase in early puberty, sexual activity and teen pregnancy.

This really defines many characteristics found in the middle school.  Being able to identify these factors will allow us to evaluate student situations and devise interventions to help these students.


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