By looking into the various stages of development of the child we can easily understand the value of a psychological foundation of education. The activities of the child are limited at birth. His conduct is mostly on the instinctive level.
At first he is generally impelled by the hunger instinct. His behaviour becomes more complex as he grows older. Greater abilities manifest themselves in various forms. It is from here that the function of the educator should begin.
It is said that “during the first two or three years the child learns more than he does during the rest of his life.” The teacher may not study it very minutely, but it would be a fatal mistake, if the teacher, especially-that of young children, neglected it wholly.
As the child reaches the seventh year he generally leas to distinguish clearly between work and play he now uses his interests “as stepping-stones to acquire the interests of civilized life.” The primitive form of attention on the perceptual level rises to a perceptive degree.
The logical memory has not yet developed, but he is capable of retaining more impressions than before “The flight of fancy begins to be less unbridled.” “His intellectual conquest of his universe proceeds.” Under normal conditions the eight or nine year old child is usually able to have some self-control.
He has learnt to weigh and consider the commands of his elders upto some extent and act accordingly. He is not so prone to follow instructions blindly as before. However, the conducts of the elders are still the standards of morality to him. Consequently, his moral progress comes out of the imitation of his elders.
His moral judgment is not guided by any judgment but-by loyalty to some person. The people around him and the heroes of story and romance are his guide. An educator ought to understand these different stages of child’s growth in order to educate him properly.
But this is not possible without knowledge of the psychological principles underlying the various stages of growth. One the mental side, forms and symbols play a major role in the extension of the boys’ interests between the ages of eleven and fourteen.
At the adolescent stage “the youth or the maiden begins to live to a great extent in the future rather than in the present.” Hopes, dreams, passions and cravings occupy the mind of the adolescent.
With the growth of social consciousness the adolescent begins to understand ethical values. The physical and mental energy is manifest in the waves of emotional vitality which is in the process of reorganization. There is a struggle between his internal demands and the outward reality.
The adolescent is seeking independence. He tries to find his own place in the world. The reconciliation between internal strivings and outside reality represents a paramount effort of the maturing person.
The educator who has undertaken to guide the youth through this critical period must see that these tempestuous emotions are directed into proper channels. The psychology of child development demands that education at this stage should not be the mere storing up of information’s, but that it should also provide outlets to the inner cravings of the child.
This is the time for athletic ‘games of courage and skill, gymnastic exercises, manual training, creative and aesthetic activities and work in the laboratories. Psychology here tells us that “now or never is the time, for opening out any intellectual and aesthetic interests that are to become permanent incentives to right conduct”
It makes it clear that “an under-tendency to introspection checked by allurements to action, and exaggerated ambition and unreflecting activity must be checked by allurements to serious studies.”