What are the essential principles of growth and development?



Growth and development is one of the important subject of psychology. It is essential for every teacher and parents know the fundamentals of growth and development. Good, effective teaching and guidance depend on the study of growth and development. Effective learning takes place when learning situations are arranged in accordance with the growth and development.

At birth, the child is helpless. Gradually he develops and becomes independent. A teacher before preparing the curriculum must have a basis idea of the anticipated changes of the behavior undergoing at various stages.


Growth means an increase in size, height, weight, length, etc. which can be measured.


Development implies changes in shape, form or structure resulting in improved working. It implies qualitative changes.

The principles of growth and development are described below.

(i) Development follows a pattern:

Development occurs in orderly manner and follows a certain sequence. For example, the human baby can stand before he walks and can draw a circle before he can draw a square. He babbles before he talks, he is dependent on others before he becomes self-dependent.

(ii) Development proceeds from general to specific responses:

It moves from a generalized to localized behavior. The newborn infant moves its whole body at one time instead of moving only one part of it. It makes random kicking with its legs before it can coordinate the leg muscles well enough to crawl or to walk.

(iii) Development is a continuous process:

Development does not occur in spurts. Growth continues from the moments of conception until the individual reaches maturity. It takes place at slow regular pace rather than by ‘leaps and bounds’.

Although development is a continuous process, yet the tempo of growth is not even during infancy and early years, growth moves swiftly. Later on, it slackens.

(iv) Different aspects of growth develop at different rates

Neither all parts of the body grow at the same rate nor do all aspects of mental growth proceed equally. They reach maturity at different times.

(v) Most traits are correlated in development:

Generally, it is seen that the child whose intellectual development is above average is so in health size, sociability and special aptitudes.

(vi) Growth is complex:

All of its aspects are closely interrelated. The child’s mental development is intimately related to his physical growth and its needs.

(vii) Growth is a product of the interaction of the organism and environment:

Among the environmental factors one can mention nutrition, climate the conditions in the home, the type of social organization in which individual moves and lives.

(viii) There are wide individual differences in growth:

Individual differences in growth are caused by differences in heredity and environment.

(ix) Growth is both quantitative and qualitative:

These two aspects are inseparable. The child not only grows in ‘size’; he grows up or matures in structure and function too.

(x) Development is predictable:

It is possible for us to predict at an early age the range within which the mature development of the child is likely to fall. But mental development cannot be predicted with the same degree of accuracy.

Educational Significance

Education is not only a process and a product of growing; it means growing. Teachers and parents must know what children are capable of, what children are capable of, and what potentialities they possess. By knowing this, they can provide congenial environment, which are conducive to the maximum growth of children. Besides the teacher and parents must be helpful, sympathetic and encouraging to the students.

Bearing in mind the individual variations in growth, the school programmes must be adjusted accordingly. Good physical growth, through the provision of play, games and sports is conducive to effective intellectual development. On the other hand, malnutrition retards development. Therefore, teachers and parents help in cultivating among pupils habits of balanced eating. Because of ‘individual differences’ diversified development of specific talents, abilities and interests and varied co-curricular activities must be introduced in school curriculum.

Moreover, teachers and parents should not demand of pupils what is beyond their stage of growth.