"Development and learning are inextricably linked, but traditionally development is not intentionally addressed. The School Development Program enables educators, parents and families, and community partners to support development, integrate learning, and as a result, improve academic and behavioral outcomes.”
James P. Comer, M.D., M.P.H.
The developmental sciences are foundational in the School Development Program. Dr. Comer identifies six of many domains of child and adolescent development that are key to academic learning. They are:
The physical pathway refers to the physical health and well being of children. In addressing this pathway, the goal is to help children and adolescents acquire knowledge about their physical development, and to use this knowledge to make good decisions that will promote healthy development.
This pathway refers to an individual’s ability to think critically and creatively, to retain and mentally manipulate information, and to set and work towards accomplishing desired goals. In addressing this pathway, the goal is for children and adolescents to increase their capacity to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information; to achieve mastery in required and selected content areas; to use information to effectively solve problems; and to enjoy learning.
This pathway refers to a) receptive language, which is an individual’s ability to understand spoken and written communication, and to accurately interpret non-verbal cues; and b) expressive language, the ability to effectively communicate verbally and through writing. In addressing this pathway, the goal is to help children and adolescents to increase their capacity for receptive and expressive language in a variety of contexts.
This pathway refers to the individual’s ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships, and to adequately negotiate challenging relationships. In addressing this pathway, the goal is to help children and adolescents to increase their capacity to build and maintain healthy relationships across the range of human diversity.
This pathway focuses on the individual’s knowledge of appropriate and acceptable behaviors, and the practice of these behaviors including respect for the rights and integrity of self and others. In addressing this pathway, the goal is to help children and adolescents to increase their capacity for behaving with justice and fairness toward others, and enhance their ability to make decisions that promote their well-being, and the collective good.
This pathway focuses on an individual’s self-awareness and self-esteem, including feelings of worth and competence. It also refers to an individual’s ability to appropriately manage emotions. In addressing this pathway, the goals are to help children and adolescents to develop a strong, positive sense of self, and to increase their capacity to manage their emotions well.
Comer, J.P. (2005). Child and adolescent development: The critical missing focus in school reform. Phi Delta Kappan, 86 (10).
Brown, F.E. and Corbin, J.N. (2004). Child development is the foundation of education. In E.T. Joyner, J.P. Comer, M.D., and M. Ben-Avie (Eds.). Six Pathways to Healthy Child Development and Academic Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Comer, J. P. (1993). All children can learn: A developmental approach. Holistic Education Review, 6 (1), 4-9.
Comer, J. P. (1992). Child development: An organizing theme for school improvement. Social Policy, 28-30.