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Understanding Human Growth and Development

IVSAT 2024

Growth and Development definition: Most people use the terms "growth" and "development" interchangeably, however, these two terms have quite different meanings. Growth is defined as an increase in physical parameters over time. Changes in height, weight, body proportions, and general physical appearance are all part of it.

The term "development" refers to the overall qualitative changes in the organism. Physical, emotional, and intellectual changes are all part of the development process. It's a broader and more inclusive term than "growth” that also includes the physiological development of humans. It is also possible without expanding physically.

Characteristics of Growth and Development

The interplay of biological, cognitive, socio-emotional, and environmental factors leads to human growth. Genetic element are the foundation of biological development processes. The development of the brain, heart, lungs, nervous system, and other organs, is primarily determined by the individual's inherited features. Changes in height, weight, and sex traits are also part of the biological development process. Everyone should make an effort to maintain his or her bodily and mental well-being.

The following traits listed below can be used to understand the various characteristics of growth and development.

  1. Behaviours are Passed on to Successive Generations: Species' behaviours are passed on from generation to generation. To put it in another way, any particular habit of a living being gets passed down through generations of that species. Goats, for example, prefer to move in a flock.

  2. Change in the Biological Process Determines the Change in Behaviours: Changes in biological processes determine changes in human growth and behaviour. When a biological structure or process changes, it causes changes in human growth and behaviour as well. For example, if a person's brain is damaged in a specific area, his or her behaviour may change, and he or she may become more aggressive or emotional. Similarly, certain medicines may alter brain chemistry, resulting in behavioural changes in humans.

  3. Behaviours Run in Families/ Behaviors are Transmitted in Families: It has been noticed in families that if one generation suffers from diseases like diabetes or cancer, the members of the next generation are likely to suffer from the same condition to some level since they have some comparable genes that are passed down from the previous generation.

  4. Genes are Evolutionary: Behavioral changes are the result of gene evolution. Chimpanzees and humans share nearly identical genes. As a result, chimps are the closest living relatives of humans, and their features and behaviours are more or less comparable to humans, as evidenced by the history of gene evolution.

Growth and Development Stages

Stages of Growth and Development: There are 8 stages of growth and development in humans.

1. Prenatal Period (conception to birth):

  1. Physical Development: Since the beginning of conception, the genetic endowment interacts with environmental forces. Then the body organs and basic body structures are formed. It is followed by the beginning of brain development. Physical development is the fastest in this phase in a human’s lifetime. The risk of being harmed by environmental factors is high.

  2. Cognitive Development: Abilities to learn and remember, and respond to sensory stimuli, are developing.

  3. Psychosocial Development: Fetus responds to mother’s voice and develops a preference for it.

2. Infancy and Toddlerhood (birth to age 3 years):

  1. Physical Development - To varying degrees, all senses and physiological systems are active at birth. The brain becomes increasingly complicated as it ages, and it is extremely susceptible to external factors. Physical development and motor skill development are both quick.

  2. Cognitive Development - Even in the early weeks, the ability to learn and recall is present. By the end of the second year, kids develop their capacity to use symbols and solve issues. The ability to understand and use language develops quickly.

  3. Psychosocial Development - Attachments to parents and others develop at this stage. Self-awareness develops. A shift from dependence to autonomy occurs. Interest in other children increases.

3. Early Childhood (3 to 6 years):

  1. Physical Development - The appearance gets thinner, and the proportions become more adult-like. Appetite declines, and sleep disturbances are prevalent. Hand dexterity develops, as do fine and gross motor abilities and strength.

  2. Cognitive Development - Thoughts are egocentric, yet comprehension of other people's viewpoints improves. Cognitive immaturity results in certain irrational worldviews. Memory and linguistic skills are enhanced. As time goes on, intelligence gets more predictable. Preschool attendance is frequent, and kindergarten attendance is much more so.

  3. Psychosocial Development - Self-esteem is universal, as is self-concept and emotional awareness. Increased independence, initiative or self-control, and self-care can also be marked in this age. Gender identity emerges through time. Play evolves into something more imaginative, sophisticated, and sociable. Altruism, hostility, and fear are all prevalent characteristics. The family remains the focal point of social life, but other children take on greater significance.

4. Middle Childhood (6 to 11 years):

  1. Physical Development - Growth slows down. The athlete's strength and athletic abilities develop. Although respiratory diseases are widespread, overall health conditions are more stable than earlier.

  2. Cognitive Development - Children learn to reason logically and in a concrete manner. The ability to remember things and speak in a clear and concise manner improves. Children can benefit from formal schooling because of their cognitive development. Some children have unique educational demands and abilities.

  3. Psychosocial Development - Self-concept gets more complicated, which has an impact on self-esteem. The gradual transfer of control from parents to children is reflected in co-regulation. Peers are given a lot of weight.

5. Adolescence (11 to 20 years):

  1. Physical Development - Physical development and other changes occur at a rapid and deep rate. Puberty hits and reproductive maturity begins. Behavioural difficulties, such as eating disorders and substance abuse, pose serious health concerns.

  2. Cognitive Development - The ability to think abstractly and to reason scientifically grows. Some attitudes and behaviours are still influenced by immature thinking. The goal of education is to prepare students for their career choice.

  3. Psychosocial Development - The search for one's identity, especially one's sexual identity, takes centre stage. Parental relationships are often positive. Peer groups can help people build and evaluate their self-concept, but they can also have an antisocial effect.

6. Young Adulthood (20’s to 30’s)

  1. Cognitive Development - Cognitive abilities and moral judgments assume more complexity. Educational and career choices are made.

  2. Psychosocial Development - Personality traits and styles become largely constant over time, however, life stages and events can affect personality changes. Personal lifestyles and intimate relationships are the subjects of decisions. Most people marry and have children during this stage.

7. Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years):

  1. Physical Development - Physical fitness rises, then gradually deteriorates. Health is influenced by lifestyle choices. It's possible that sensory abilities, health, stamina, and talents will deteriorate. Menopause is a condition that affects women.

  2. Cognitive Development - The most basic mental capacities are at their pinnacle, as are expertise and practical problem-solving capabilities. Although creative output may decrease, the quality of that output improves. Professional success and earning power may peak for some, while burnout or a career transition may occur for others.

  3. Psychosocial Development - The development of one's sense of self continues; stressful midlife traction may occur. Stress might arise from having to care for both children and ageing parents.

8. Late Childhood (65 years and above)

  1. Physical Development - Most individuals are healthy and active, however, their health and physical abilities are deteriorating. Some areas of functioning are affected by a slower reaction time.

  2. Cognitive Development - The vast majority of people are cognitively alert. While some aspects of intelligence and memory may decrease, most people find strategies to adapt.

  3. Psychosocial Development - Retirement from the workforce may open up new possibilities for how to spend your time. People must cope with personal losses and the approaching death of loved ones. Relationships with family and close friends can be quite beneficial. The search for purpose in life has become increasingly important.

Child Growth and Development

Fetal Development Week by Week

Weeks 1 to 4

A water-tight sac forms around the fertilised egg as it grows, gradually filling with fluid. The amniotic sac is a cushion that protects the growing embryo.

The placenta also grows during this pregnancy. The placenta is a circular, flat organ that transports nutrients and waste from the mother to the infant. Consider the placenta as a source of nutrition for your baby during your pregnancy.

During the first few weeks, a primitive visage with huge black circles for eyes will emerge. The lower jaw, mouth, and throat are all growing. Circulation will begin as blood cells begin to form. By the end of the fourth week, the little "heart" tube will be beating 65 times per minute.

Your baby will be about 1/4 inch long by the end of the first month, roughly the size of a grain of rice.

Weeks 5 to 8

The features of your baby's face continue to change. Each ear originates as a little fold of skin on the head's side. Tiny buds are sprouting, which will eventually expand into arms and legs. The formation of fingers, toes, and eyes is also underway.

The neural tube (brain, spinal cord, and other central nervous system’s neural tissue) is now fully formed. In addition, the digestive tract and sensory organs start to mature. Cartilage is being replaced by bone.

At this point, your baby's head is disproportionately huge in comparison to the rest of its body. The heartbeat of your baby can normally be noticed at around 6 weeks.

After the eighth week, your baby is referred to as a foetus rather than an embryo.

Your baby will be around 1 inch long and weigh about 1/30 of an ounce by the end of the second month.

Weeks 9 to 12

The arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes of your baby are fully formed. At this point, your baby is beginning to explore by opening and closing his or her fists and lips. The external ears are forming, and fingernails and toenails are beginning to emerge. Under the gums, the first teeth are growing. Your baby's reproductive organs develop as well, but ultrasound can't tell you if he or she is male or female.

Your baby will be fully formed by the end of the third month. All organs and limbs (extremities) are present and will develop further to become functional. The circulatory and urinary systems of the newborn are both functioning, and the liver is producing bile.

Your baby is around 4 inches long and weighs about 1 ounce at the end of the third month.

Weeks 13 to 16

An instrument called a doppler may now be able to detect your baby's heartbeat. The toes and fingers are clearly delineated. Eyelids, brows, eyelashes, nails, and hair are all created during this process. Teeth and bones become denser as we become older. Your kid can also suck his or her thumb, yawn, stretch, and create facial expressions.

The nervous system is beginning to work. Your doctor can see if you're having a boy or a girl via ultrasound because your reproductive organs and genitalia are now fully grown.

Your baby will be around 6 inches long and weigh 4 ounces by the end of the fourth month.

Weeks 17 to 20

You may see your baby moving around at this point. Your baby is growing and exercising his or her muscles. Quickening is the first movement, which can feel like a flutter.

On the baby's head, hair begins to develop. Lanugo is a fine, velvety hair that covers your baby's shoulders, back, and temples. This hair serves to safeguard your kid and is shed around the end of the first week of life.

Vernix caseosa is a whitish layer that covers the baby's skin. This "cheesy" ingredient is supposed to protect your baby's skin against amniotic fluid exposure. Just before birth, this layer is shed.

Your baby will be around 10 inches long and weigh between 1/2 and 1 pound by the end of the fifth month.

Weeks 21 to 24

If you could see your baby's skin inside the uterus right now, you'd notice that its reddish in colour, wrinkled, and veins are evident through the baby's translucent skin. The prints of the baby's fingers and toes can be seen. The eyelids begin to part and the eyes open at this point.

When a baby hears something, he or she will move or increase their pulse. If your baby has hiccups, you may detect jerking gestures.

If your baby is born early, he or she may survive if given urgent care after the 23rd week.

Your baby will be around 12 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds by the end of the sixth month.

Weeks 25 to 28

Your kid will continue to grow and acquire body fat stores. The baby's hearing is fully developed at this point. The baby moves around a lot and responds to stimuli like sound, pain, and light. The amniotic fluid starts to deplete.

If your kid is born prematurely, he or she is likely to survive until the seventh month.

Your baby is around 14 inches long and weighs between 2 and 4 pounds at the end of the seventh month.

Weeks 29 to 32

Your kid will continue to grow and acquire body fat stores. You might notice that your kid is kicking a lot more than usual. At this age, your baby's brain is rapidly developing, and he or she can see and hear. The majority of the internal systems are mature, but the lungs may still be immature.

Your child is approximately 18 inches long and weighs up to 5 pounds.

Weeks 33 to 36

Your baby will continue to develop and grow at this stage. At this point, the lungs are almost fully grown.

Your baby's reflexes are coordinated, allowing him or her to blink, close his or her eyes, turn his or her head, grab firmly, and respond to sound, light and touch.

Your baby is between 17 and 19 inches long and weighs between 5 and 6 pounds.

Weeks 37 to 40

You could go into labour at any time during the last month. Due to the limited room, you may notice that your baby moves less. Your baby's position may have shifted at this point to prepare for birth. The baby should be head down in your uterus. As the baby descends into your pelvis and prepares for birth, you may feel very uneasy in this final stretch.

At this moment, your baby is ready to meet the rest of the world.

Your baby is approximately 18 to 20 inches in length and weighs approximately 7 pounds.

Growth and Development Difference

The difference between growth and development is mentioned below:



Physiological changes are referred to as growth.

The term "development" refers to a person's overall changes. It entails gradual, systematic, and consistent changes that lead to maturity.

Growth is defined as a change in the quantity of something.

The quality of development changes in tandem with the quantitative component.

Growth does not occur continuously throughout one's lifetime.

Lifelong development is possible.

After maturation, growth comes to a halt.

Development is a continuous process.

The proliferation of cells causes growth.

Maturation and interaction with the environment both contribute to development.

Growth is cellular.

Development is


One aspect of the developmental process is growth.

Development is a broad and inclusive concept.

The term "growth" can be used to describe changes in specific elements of an organism's anatomy and behaviour.

The changes in the organism as a whole are referred to as development.

The changes that occur as a result of growth are quantifiable. In nature, they may be quantified and observed.

The development brings qualitative changes which are difficult to measure directly. They are assessed through keen observation of behaviour

in different situations.

Growth may or may not bring


Development is possible

without growth.

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FAQs on Growth and Development

1. What are the five areas of growth and development?

The Five Areas of Progress is a holistic learning strategy that aims to break down educational silos and assure a learner's development in all five areas of development - cerebral, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual.

2. What are the main characteristics of growth?

Growth is quantifiable. Growth is the result of an increase in protoplasm, which is difficult to quantify. The increase in dry weight, the number of cells, the volume, the increase in fresh weight, and the increase in volume are all ways to assess growth.

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