Child Development Essay Paper

Child Development Essay Paper

Child Development Essay Paper

As children grow towards adolescence they go through many stages of development. Child development refers to the stages of physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and language growth that occurs from the birth to beginning of adulthood. All aspects of a child’s development may be affected by many different factors, including a poor learning environment, lack of social interaction, cultural background differences, abuse, and loss of a parent. All of the before mentioned examples can affect the child’s maturation, “a biological growth process that enables orderly changes in behavior, relatively uninfluenced by experience” (Myers 172). Children grow and mature at very different rates, some faster than others, which is why it is necessary to understand the importance of the different types of child development. Though all parts of child development are important, it is probably language learning that is most important to a child’s development as a whole.
The first type of development that can be observed is physical development. Physical development refers to a child’s gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are the use of large groups of muscles that can develop naturally through outdoor and indoor play. During play, a child may use their gross motor skills by standing, jumping, climbing, running or riding a bike. “If children are encouraged to be physically active, these skills can develop into advanced patterns of motor coordination that can last a lifetime” ( Fine motor skills are the use of the muscles in the hands. These muscles can develop by using fingers to cut with scissors, write, paint and many other activities.Child Development Essay Paper


Observation of young children allows for a naturalistic insight into child development, which more experimental methods fail to provide. The method of observation also means social workers can develop skills that would usually be difficult to learn, such as observing without taking notes – a practice that is applicable in a professional social work role. Trowell and Miles (1996) emphasise the importance of observation as one of the foundational skills developed in social work, relating to the social worker’s role in making judgements, decisions and juggling the issues of race, gender and sexuality whilst making important decisions regarding people’s welfare.

Positive parenting means providing guidance and discipline in ways that are attentive to children’s needs, and addressing challenges with sensitivity and respect. Here are some ways you can use positive parenting in your own household:

• During difficult moments, try to understand your child’s point of view.
Think about why your child may be acting out and ask her to explain. She might not be able to articulate her feelings clearly at first, but if you keep asking her, it teaches skills of self-reflection and how to identify feeling. Asking someone how they feel shows that you care about them. Don’t excuse the behavior, but provide examples of different ways to handle a situation instead. If she is too young to express herself, look for signs of what might be frustrating her and redirect her behavior instead.Child Development Essay Paper

• Set firm, but kind limits that are communicated and consistent.
Providing guidance about socially unacceptable behaviors is very important for our children to help them navigate the world. Positive parenting does not mean the same thing as being permissive; in fact, making rules, communicating them and assigning a consequence when those rules are broken takes a lot of focus. Letting them know about the boundaries they cannot cross is both fair and respectful, and fairness is hard to dispute.

• Respond to your child’s behaviors and needs with empathy and love, not criticism.
Name-calling, even saying something like, “you bad boy,” gets internalized. Young children believe what you say at face value. Shaming has very negative consequences on self-esteem and self-regulation. Instead, be understanding. The more empathetic you are as you respond to his behavior, the more he will accept your rules and will want to regulate himself. However, if he feels criticized, it sets up a you vs. him scenario where he will not only resist your limits, he’ll be ashamed of his behavior.

• Look for moments of connection and enjoy the time you spend together.
Research tells us that children who do not form secure attachments with the adults in their life often exhibit behavioral problems and relationship troubles later in life. So take every opportunity to engage with your child. It’s not about quantity, it’s quality; even just 20 minutes a day of uninterrupted time together is enough to forge a bond. If you have a strong connection with your child, it will build her self-esteem, bring fun into the household, and gives her a reason to be cooperative: her relationship with you.Child Development Essay Paper

• Regulate your emotions before reacting to your child. Always be the adult.
Young children copy everything about the older people in their lives, especially parents. Your child will think they way you handle things is the “correct” way, whether or not it truly is. Model the behavior you want your child to emulate. If they see you yelling and screaming, chances are, they’ll learn to do the same. Take a deep breath instead. There are times when you will have to be firm with your child, but you can always be calm and level-headed.

Teaching discipline to your child is important to help them learn to regulate their own behavior and emotions, but a child’s entire range of experience matters, and relationships with the adults in their life are key. Using positive parenting skills can help strengthen your connection with your child and help shape their future in nurturing and constructive ways.

Infancy is a time of intense development. Babies start out with little more than instinctual reflexes and an innate ability to learn. Over the course of two years, they progress to the point where they have recognizable personalities; are able to move themselves from place to place and manipulate things; and understand how certain important aspects of the world operate (such as object permanence; the understanding that objects continue to exist even when you are not looking at them). They understand the basics of how to make their wishes known, have formed attachments and relationships, and have learned basic ways of managing their emotions and impulses. While these achievements are tremendous and set the stage for later learning, they are also commonplace. So long as children are born without significant illness, and so long as they are properly nurtured and cared for, their development towards these achievements will likely progress uneventfully.Child Development Essay Paper

The key phrase is, of course, “properly nurtured.” As Bronfenbrenner stressed, child development is influenced by the environment at every level. Children progress toward milestones through interaction with their physical environments, with loving parents, and with the larger world. Problematic or lack of nurturing has a negative impact on their ability to progress smoothly. Children who are not exposed to language and communication stimulation, either because of hearing problems or caregivers’ neglect to speak with and around them, can have difficulty learning more complex language skills in later years. Similarly, children who are deprived of consistent nurturing care can grow to learn to mistrust others and have problems bonding with caregivers or other people in later years. Good parenting skills can help smooth out some of the inevitable bumps and bruises that might threaten to derail more sensitive or temperamental children. Though all parents will make mistakes in the 22 years it takes to raise a child; love, attention, and care provide strong bedrock for healthy child development.

Early childhood development is crucial to how a person develops later on in life. Reasons for a how a person acts, behaves, and thinks can be traced back to their childhood circumstances and environment. Parents also play a very important role in a child’s development. If they are involved and provide a nurturing and rich environment then they contribute in a positive way to their child’s development, which will help them later on in life. The human brain is most impressionable in the first several years of life. This is why these years are so extremely important and can impact a person’s life even into adulthood. Unhealthy eating habits and negative social interactions, such as a child being isolated, can lead to a child not developing in a proper way. A child who is raised under these circumstances could suffer the consequences later on in life such as speech impediments or the inability to socialize in a proper and civilized manner. Child Development Essay Paper
However, parents can do many things to ensure their child’s developmental process is successful such as, developing a positive bond with their child, surrounding their child with positive influences and encouraging family and friends, and attending child development support groups if need be. Since children truly are the future of any society it is important that each community recognizes the proper steps that need to be taken in order to ensure each and every child is given the opportunity to develop properly. Early childhood development programs are extremely effective and should strongly be considered by parents. Research has proven that those who attend ECD programs benefit greatly. These children see better results in school, have better social and more stable emotional behavior, and develop stronger relationships with their parents, to name a few.
Overall, early childhood development is an extremely important issue which needs to gain recognition. Every parent needs to understand and be aware of how crucial the first several years of their child’s life is. They should not hesitate to research or ask for help on this topic if need be.

Adolescence is an amazing period of growth spanning the ages of 12-24 years old. Youth enter this developmental stage with the body and mind of a child, and then exit 10-12 years later, with the body and mind of an adult. This article examined the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, moral, and sexual dimensions of adolescent development. While these individual areas of development were discussed separately by necessity, it was emphasized there is a strong inter-relationship among these various aspects of development. Furthermore, it was emphasized that there is a great deal of individual variation within the normal developmental process. Individual youth may reach developmental milestones at ages that are different from averages presented in this article, and yet these youth would still be considered “normal.” Caregivers were advised to consult a health care professional if they have concerns about their child’s developmental progress in any of these areas.Child Development Essay Paper

smiling teensPhysically, adolescents grow to reach their adult height, and their bodies begin to resemble adult bodies in size, shape, and body composition. Moreover, they become capable of sexual reproduction.

Cognitively, adolescent thinking skills rapidly advance as they enter Piaget’s stage of formal operations. Youth are now able to think in abstract terms so that they can conceptualize theoretical ideas, moving beyond the limitations of concrete information. Youth begin analyze problems in a more logical and scientific manner. This ability to think abstractly and analytically simultaneously promotes their social, emotional, and moral development. As their brain continues to develop, youths’ capacity for memorization expands as the brain develops more sophisticated methods of organizing information, allowing for more rapid and accurate information storage and subsequent retrieval. However, the brain’s frontal lobe is not fully developed until the very end of adolescence. The frontal lobe of the brain enables humans to inhibit primitive sexual or emotional impulses by using rationale thought to override these impulses. The incomplete development of the frontal lobe means that adolescents will continue to struggle to make wise and thoughtful decisions in the presence of powerful emotional, social, or sexual pressures.Child Development Essay Paper

Emotionally, adolescents encounter many new experiences that challenge their ability to cope with a broad array of intense emotions. Youth must learn how to handle stressful situations that trigger powerful emotions without harming or hurting themselves, or other people. Once youth have learned to identify their emotions, and the source of their emotional reactions, they must then learn healthy ways to cope with situations that cause strong emotional reactions. When this learning is completed, youth will have developed emotional efficacy; a landmark skill that enables them to be successful in their future careers, and to enjoy meaningful relationships with others.

Emotional maturity is closely tied to the knowledge of oneself, and one’s values. This self-identity develops and solidifies during adolescence. Erik Erikson and James Marcia both proposed theories of identity development and these theories were reviewed. Despite theoretical differences, both theorists agree some youth will develop a clear set of values and beliefs through experimentation with different identities, and an examination of their values. Other youth will not advance this far. These youth will either continue to question their values; or, they may not examine their values at all. Some youth are so disadvantaged they do not have opportunities to explore values beyond mere survival.Child Development Essay Paper

Socially, as youths’ need for independence increases, their primary social support shifts away from their families, and toward their peers. Because of the increased importance of peer relationships, youth are especially sensitive to peer pressure (meaning, to conform to the standards of the peer group). By late adolescence youth will ordinarily re-establish close relationships with their families, provided these relationships were positive to begin with. Youth also create more meaningful and productive relationships with other people outside their circle of family and friends; e.g., bosses, coaches, teachers, co-workers, and other acquaintances. Romantic relationships begin to flourish during this developmental phase. In early adolescence these connections may be of a more flirtatious nature, and may bloom and fade rather quickly. However, by late adolescence, many of these relationships become more stable, mature, and emotionally intimate.

Moral development naturally progresses as mental and emotional maturity improves. Youths’ understanding of right and wrong becomes more sophisticated and nuanced. Both Piaget’s and Kohlberg’s theories of moral development were reviewed, but Kohlberg’s theory has been more strongly supported by the research. According to Kohlberg’s theory, some youth will eventually base their moral decisions on a set of ethical principles that surpass existing laws or rules. Other youth will remain primarily concerned with rules, laws, and fairness.Child Development Essay Paper

Sexual development was described as a complex merger of physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and moral development. During this time youth solidify their gender identity as masculine, feminine, or transgendered. Youth will also become aware of their sexual orientation which refers to a pattern of attraction to others, not sexual behavior. Youth will begin to realize they are primarily attracted to the opposite gender (straight), the same gender (gay or lesbian), both genders (bisexual), or still uncertain (questioning). During early adolescence most teens become curious about sex, but any sexual behavior is usually limited to masturbation. However, by middle to late adolescence, many teens begin to experiment with various sexual behaviors via masturbation, partners, or both. Because of the brain’s incomplete development youth are at risk for making poor or risky decisions regarding their sexuality. Ultimately youth must determine what type of sexual behavior is acceptable to them, and under what circumstances. These decisions are best made in advance of the need to make them.Child Development Essay Paper

In conclusion, adolescent youth experience monumental changes in every single aspect of their lives as they make the transition from childhood into adulthood. The purpose of this article was to provide parents and other caregivers the foundational information needed to recognize and to appreciate the normal developmental progression of adolescents. Therefore, this article was primarily descriptive in nature. However, the process of adolescent development can become quite challenging and sometime overwhelming for both youth and their families. Our Adolescent Parenting article builds upon this foundation to provide parents and other caregivers concrete advice and practical solutions to common problems that arise during adolescence. Armed with this information, caregivers will feel more confident and successful as they guide their child through these often confusing and difficult years.

The observation took place across 5 weeks involving 5 different observation sessions, allowing the child to be observed across a variety of different times during the day. The observation study was based upon the Tavistock method emphasising not taking notes, becoming completely absorbed into the observation and placing importance on the observer recognising their own reactions and responses to what behaviours and dynamics may be displayed. The Tavistock model encourages observers to

“see what there is to be seen and not look for what they think should be there”Child Development Essay Paper

(p. 2, Reid 1999).

This encourages the observer’s use of non-judgemental perception – and not creating inferences about situations based on instinct without evidence.

Whilst the Tavistock model traditionally uses weekly observation across the first year of a baby’s birth this observation was across 5 weeks. It would be hugely beneficial from a child development perspective to observe a newborn infant for a year, however I can imagine the process to be very emotional. I found it difficult to complete my ‘goodbyes’ to the child I was observing, as I had become a relatively constant fixture in the child’s life. Also from the process of observation I felt as if I had begun to ‘know’ the child, as I had watched her intently and picked up upon habits, favourite activities and began to recognise and understand her personality traits. The age of the child being observed was also very different from the Tavistock model, however I feel that observing a child at the age of between 3 and 5 was incredibly useful. Observation of newborn infants can inform social workers of attachment development and the very first milestones. However an older child can start to inform social workers of the way children interact with other adults, develop speech and how children themselves relate to others and the wider ecological system (Bronfenbrenner 1990) which can help inform practice, especially direct work with children.

The use of the Tavistock model also helped me understand the usefulness of not taking notes, and I think it is a skill I have developed and already put into practice when working with children. Due to learning how to perceive what is going on around me and what is occurring for the child I have been able to transfer this to listening to children talk about their home life (specifically in wishes and feelings work) whilst being able to observe the child’s body language. I have made it a point to not take notes when talking to a child, so that they feel I am fully focused on their story.Child Development Essay Paper

The observation took place in an early years class, in a Roman Catholic School in a deprived area of Suffolk. The school’s mission statement is “to educate young people to meet the challenge of life courageously, to use their abilities to the full and to live the values of Christ’s gospel” and there is an emphasis on a Catholic education, including religious iconography in all classrooms, regular prayers and a prayer garden in the school grounds. Children are also encouraged to take their first holy communion and attend mass regularly. The school itself is recognised as ‘good’ by Ofsted, and whilst it’s main student population is from the nearby area and would describe themselves as White British, there are a small, but growing, population of ethnic minorities. This includes Philippines, Korean and Polish and due to the high incident of non-English speaking parents the school’s website offers a translate service. The Ofsted report also discusses that the school has a higher than average number of pupils with special educational needs.

The area is predominately working class, with an increasing problem with unemployment and poverty. Whilst it is well evidenced that children growing up in deprived areas are more at risk of health problems (McLeod and Shanahan 1993) and at greater risk of varying types of abuse (Aber, Bennet, Conley and Li 1997) the child for this study is developing within the considered ‘normal’ boundaries, is not known to social services, and is white British.Child Development Essay Paper

I fortunately already had links to the school due to previously completing work experience- I was therefore already known by members of staff, and had already gained their trust that I would behave in a professional manner. I approached the school and the school agreed to the observation study. I was then invited to come in and speak to a potential parent as she brought her child in to school. The teacher had chosen this child as she had no developmental concerns, describing her as ‘average’, the child, siblings and other family members were also not known to social services and come from a stable family. I approached the mother as she entered school and explained the project to her, she was interested and expressed no worries or issues with her child being the subject of the child observation. I was very surprised at the ease of permission, as there is a negative stereotype regarding social workers (Gibleman 2004), however when I spoke to the parent of the child she said that she understood that everyone needs to learn. This made me feel positive regarding the observation as I wasn’t immediately challenged or questioned and the parent did not ask for any feedback on the child’ development – which I was initially concerned may be asked of me.

I completed the observations on a Tuesday at a variety of times. Due to starting at the end of September I started my observation at 9am as ‘C’ (as the observation subject shall henceforth be known) had only just begun school and was not yet attending full time. As time progressed I was able to complete observations during the afternoons. I chose the observation to focus on as ‘C’ participated in a range of activities that appeared to demonstrate numerous facets of child development, including imaginary play, shared play, scaffolding (Vygotsky 1978) and cognitive development (Piaget 1964). I chose not to use the first observation I completed, as ‘C’ cried for the most part of the observation and was very unresponsive to any task the class teacher had set and refused to participate in any activities, instead she remained on the lap of a teaching assistant. Whilst this in itself obviously indicated a great deal regarding development of attachment this essay would then primarily be focused of attachment rather than the other aspects of child development. The observation I have focused on was the second observation I completed, and is therefore still relevantly soon after ‘C’ had started school, I could therefore begin to make inferences related to ‘C’s’ first relationships with her peers and could observe how these developed across the following observations.Child Development Essay Paper

Analysis of Observation:
This observation was the second observation in the series of five. I chose it as I felt the child demonstrated a range of facets of development, including participating in shared play, imaginative play and I began to understand more about the child’s individual personality.

Language development:

Language and communication development begins very early, with very young infants using eye contact and changes in the infant’s behavioural state in order to communicate their needs to adults. These responses begin to become more complex and reciprocal between adult and caregiver and the child begins to learn sounds ultimately developing language, an important tool in communicating to adults (Sheridan, Sharma and Cockerill 2008).

The observation and school day began with the children asked to practice phonic sounds; in this observation the letter O. ‘C’ (the child) used gestures as well as sounds to practice the letter, encouraging ‘C’ to recognise the sound and value of the letters, however by 4 years and 3 months ‘C’s language development was such that she could already construct sentences, engage with other children and instigate games and jokes (Pecceci 2006) This is evidenced with ‘C’ asking another child to play the ‘row your boat’ game. ‘C’ is demonstrating her grasp of complex sentence structure using relative clauses (Clark 2003). Similar evidence of developed language acquisition is ‘C’s ability to ask grammatically correct questions, for example when she asked for milk ‘C’ demonstrated that she had developed an understanding of auxiliary verbs.Child Development Essay Paper

Social and emotional development:

Play is a central part of a child’s social development including solitary play (mastery play, generative play), constructive play, locomotor and sociodramatic play.

‘C’ participated in a range of play indicative of gender stereotypes – for example playing ‘brides’ with a friend, pretending to be a kitten again with a friend, all examples of imaginative and co-operative play.

Piaget (1965) discusses the importance of peer interactions to the child’s moral feelings, values and beliefs. In the above examples ‘C’ is engaging in play where the two children involved are expressing their interests and desires (i.e. interest in animals and the desire to have a pet kitten) when the same interests do not exist, an ‘disequillibrium’ occurs (DeVries 1997) and dependent on the value of the relationship, the child may try and re-establish equilibrium, which is why Piaget suggests peer friendships, and ultimately peer play is essential to a child’s operational and co-operational development. ‘C’ participated in a game with three boys, which involved building a structure. ‘C’ had to work with her peers, this game was more structured and therefore more implicit rules – which is how Piaget (1965) explains the development of childhood moral values.

Alternatively Vygotsky (1978) believed that the life long process of development is dependent on social interactions and this leads to cognitive development, which is also known as the zone of proximal development. ‘C’ worked with three other students to work together to build using the wooden planks, ‘C’ resolved the problem of where to put the planks to build the most sound structure – independently problem solving.Child Development Essay Paper

There is also an emphasis on play leading to the development of an imagination. This can be evidenced in ‘C’ becoming a kitten, and behaving as a kitten would- licking her hands as paws etc. Vygotsky (1966) argues that all play involves the creation of an imaginary situation, liberating the child from realistic situational constraints, ultimately Vygotsky implies that childhood play and the transition to adult imagination are both rule bound, and this first develops through imaginative play as observed in ‘C’.

Emotional development, self-regulation and containment largely derive from the quality of the child’s early attachments (Bowlby 1969). C’s mother bought ‘C’ into the classroom and ‘C’ appeared reluctant to leave her mother, but she was comforted by the teacher and waved goodbye and did not appear to be distressed. This observation was completed at an early stage of the child attending school full time, therefore a certain amount of separation anxiety could be expected. However ‘C’ was easily comforted by the teacher suggesting ‘C’ had developed a secure attachment to her mother but was able to leave her without being anxious. This has important implications for ‘C’s future adjustment at school. Granot and Mayseless (2001) suggest that those children with secure attachments adjust to school better than those with disorganised, avoidant or ambivalent attachment styles.Child Development Essay Paper

Intellectual and cognitive development:

Piaget (1957) theory of child cognitive development states that the child constructs and understands the world around them by experiencing discrepancies from what they already know and what they begin to discover. There are four stages of development, which Piaget discusses – sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational and formal operational. Due to ‘C’s age (4 years 3 months) Piaget (1957) would describe ‘C’ as being in the ‘pre-operational’ stage – mentally representing objects and engaging in symbolic play (seen throughout the observation).

The pre-operational stage also links to Piaget and Inhelder’s (1948) stages of drawing. ‘C’ demonstrated that she was in the later stages of the synthetic incapacity stage of drawing – ‘C’ had drawn a circular, closed figure with limbs but these were not in proportion, ‘C’ has also not grasped a sense of perspective and the human figure did not fit the background feature – in ‘C’s case a bathtub. The synthetic incapacity stage of drawing runs parallel to the pre-operational stage hence why the picture was also in 2D, as ‘C’ could only draw from her perspective – replicating a bathtub from her internal mental representation.Child Development Essay Paper

However Vygotsky’ (1966) theory of cognitive development varied from Piaget’s (1957) and he placed a greater importance on the cultural and social environment of the child being a vital part of the construction of knowledge. Learning through interactions with their peers, and the expectations, beliefs and traditions of their own cultures.

Vygotksy (1966) also placed an importance of peer collaboration, as well as adult assistance in promoting the zone of proximal development, also known as the scaffolding process (Wood, Bruner, and Ross 1976). Scaffolding is very much used a teaching strategy and can be seen with ‘C’ and her classmates. The teacher demonstrated the letter ‘O’ and asked the children to copy both sound and movement, providing encouragement and reward when the task was done well. In this situation the teacher also split the task of recognising ‘O’ down – first explaining to the children, then asking the children to sound the letter out, before drawing on the whiteboard and asking the children to copy the writing action. ‘C’ was then asked to draw the letter on a piece of paper, using the technique previously used by the teacher. ‘C’ did this task well, suggesting the success of the scaffolding technique.Child Development Essay Paper

In this observation ‘C’ also began to demonstrate the beginnings of the development of theory of mind. Perner, Lang and Kloo (1999) suggest an intellectual and developmental shift in a child of around 4 years of age, including the acquisition of theory of mind and self-control. In this observation ‘C’ and another child hid from a boy, they hid behind the shed, and therefore developed the understanding that if they hide from another that he will not know where they are. However Perner Lang, and Kloo (1999) also suggest a link between acquisition of theory of mind and self-control, but in the hide-and-seek game the two girls called the child’s name and giggled, suggesting their executive control has not yet fully developed

Moral and spiritual development:

As previously described the school is a Roman Catholic school, and there is religious iconography in the classroom, including a picture of Mary and Jesus on the wall. The children are expected to pray three times a day as well as attend mass, collective worship and religious assemblies. There is also a greater emphasis on religious education starting from the early years class.Child Development Essay Paper

Whilst the child’s family are not religious, it is important to consider the impact that such a religious education may have on the child’s concept of self and their moral, religious and spiritual development. Eriksson (1964) drew attention to the importance of religion and spirituality, emphasising that if successfully ‘resolved’ at an early stage it can bring about the virtue of hope, transferring over time to mature faith and the ability to believe without evidence that the universe is trustworthy (Roehlkepartain, Benson, King and Wagener 2006). Eriksson (1964) also asserted that religion could provide a transcendent worldview, moral beliefs and behavioural norms.

‘C’s religious development can be witnessed through her joining in the prayer at the end of the lesson time. ‘C’ knew the words to the prayer and actively demonstrated the actions that accompanied the prayer. Whilst I only witnessed 5 sessions, if following the true Tavistock method, there may be more evidence of how ‘C’ develops religiously, and whether attending a religious school affects her later outcomes in life as it has previously been suggested that religious schools have better discipline, school harmony and less racial discrimination (Jeynes 2002).Child Development Essay Paper

‘C’s moral development was also demonstrated several times during this observation. On several occasions C helped out adults, as well as listening to the teacher and following instructions when asked. C did not demonstrate any behaviour that may have been construed as ‘mean’ or ‘selfish’. The fact that ‘C’ tidied up when asked would suggest that ‘C’ has reached the pre-conventional level of moral development (Kohlberg 1971). ‘C’ is responsive to the rules of the classroom and aware of the consequence of not following instructions. It could also be argued that ‘C’s willingness to help at milk time could be seen as evidence of Kohlberg’s stage 3 (1971), with ‘C’ beginning to participate in good behaviour, to please and be approved by others. However Kohlberg’s (1971) theory is considered to be gender biased with females typically scoring lower than males, Gilligan (1982) argues that females and males have differences in moral development. Without doing further observations it is not clear how ‘C’ may continue to develop morally and how she would react to Kohlberg’s moral questions.Child Development Essay Paper

Concept of self:

School is an incredibly important arena for a child developing it’s own concept of self, for it is the first time the child begins to identify itself in relation to a number of characteristics such as gender roles and racial identity. ‘C’ is beginning to develop an internal model comprising of personality, self-esteem, stability and self-efficacy (Markus and Kitayama 1991).

‘C’ is marking the beginning of her concept of self, by already demonstrating preferences for the type of play, peer relationships and her interests. She showed an interest in artistic activities – such as painting and drawing (also seen in future observations) and mainly playing games with girls, however she did also participate in a game of construction with boys.Child Development Essay Paper

However many children in early childhood cannot express their concept of ‘self’ instead seeing the mind, self and free will as physical body parts (Damon and Hart 1982). This lies with children believing that animals, plants and some inanimate objects also possess a mind, whilst this did not occur in this observation; ‘C’ clearly demonstrated this belief in a future observation believing a soft toy had feelings and thoughts of it’s own.

How the child experiences their world:

I felt that during the observation that ‘C’ had a positive experience. Whilst she was initially reluctant to leave her mother, as soon as the teacher had led her into the classroom ‘C’ appeared to forget about her separation anxiety and immediately became involved with the class.

‘C’ appeared to do well at the educational task, and when she was given free time to choose a task she participated in several activities – including playing with other children but also drawing on her own. She was very giggly appeared happy during the observation – running around and playing.

However as Piaget and Vonèche (1929) reveal the difficulties in using the observation method to understand how the child experiences the setting and the culture within the school, as ‘C’ does not spontaneously communicate her thoughts and feelings about her experience, and rather it is the observer who makes these judgements.

Analysis of the observation as a series:
Language development:

‘C’ was the age of 4 years and 3 months when completing the observation, she has therefore begun to manage the concept of language and was beginning to experiment with more complex sentence structure and asking more complex questions. As would be expected of a child between the ages of 4-5 ‘C’ was also developing her ‘receptive’ skills and demonstrated an understanding of spatial concepts (McLaughlin 2006). For example the teacher asked ‘C’ to retrieve the box of beads, which was behind the curtain and next to the green box of letter shapes and ‘C’ was able to do this. She demonstrated that she could follow step-by-step complex instructions as well as the spatial concepts of ‘behind’ and ‘next to’.Child Development Essay Paper

However whilst ‘C’ is developing what would be considered ‘normally’ she also still has difficulty in pronouncing slightly longer words. For example ‘C’ was playing a pretend game of ‘hospitals’ with one child being ill and ‘C’ playing the nurse, however ‘C’ had difficulties in pronouncing the word ‘hospital’ and instead pronounced it ‘hopital’. Children between the age of 4 and 5 are still developing their linguistic skills and word distortions do occur, and it is expected that in time ‘C’ with encouragement from parents and teachers will be able to progress (Owens 2005).

‘C’s continued behaviour continued to be much along the same level as the first observation and I was not surprised at her occasional mistakes, as she is not yet linguistically competent and neither would she be expected to be at the age of 4.

Social and emotional development:

As already discussed, the quality and nature of ‘C’s early social interactions with her primary caregivers gives a template for future social relationships and is also integral to their general social and emotional development (Fabes, Gaertner and Popp 2006).

During this observation and the other observations ‘C’ appeared to have a very good temperament, disregarding the first observation ‘C’ remained friendly and happy to be interacting with other children. During the 4th observation ‘C’ was observed to share her own personal toy she had bought in for show and tell because another child had forgotten theirs, thus suggesting ‘C’ is becoming socially competent and the beginnings of empathy.

Sanson and Hemphill (2004) suggest that temperament has the potential to influence several behaviours including how children interact with peers and adults. This in turn suggests that ‘C’ is able to self-regulate her own emotions. As Eisenberg Cumberland, Spinrad, Fabes, Shepard, Reiser (2001) suggests, those children who are able to self-regulate are more likely to seek out peer relationships and therefore are recognised as more socially competent. This was evidenced in ‘C’s relationships with the other children in the class. ‘C’ was observed to share her toys without pressure from adults, and she demonstrated an emergence of the understanding of others wishes and beliefs.Child Development Essay Paper

Fabes, Gaertner and Popp (2006) also suggest that the development of social competence in school age children can be evidenced through the reciprocal relationships between peers, with positive interactions and the maintenance of social contact. Again during the observations I did not observe a negative interaction between ‘C’ and another child.

However I was only in the classroom for an hour a week, it is very likely that ‘C’ had not completely developed socially, and is likely to have had negative experiences with some of her classmates. There may also have been the added effect of investigator bias, with the children realising that I was observing and therefore modifying their behaviour.

Intellectual and cognitive development:

Three of my observations were completed first session of the morning and included the routine of the register and phonics and learning to link the letters with the sounds of the letter and introducing an action to help the children represent this – therefore using all aspects of learning (visual, auditory and kinetic). During one of my observations I arrived after lunchtime and before the children were again allowed to choose an activity. The class teacher had planned a numeracy session, with the children sitting on the carpet. The teacher would use an abacus and ask the children to count the beads along with her. I observed ‘C’ and she participated in the task, and was able to count the beads. The teacher then moved three beads across and asked ‘C’ how many beads were left to which she was able to respond ‘7’.

This is concurrent with Piaget’s (1980) pre-operational stage described previously. This is also suggested by Gelman and Gellistel (1978) who identified two types of numerical knowledge. The first being numerical reasoning and the second being numerical abstraction. Numerical abstraction ability is the process by which the child can abstract and represent numerical value. I observed ‘C’ doing this when she was asked to move two beads on the abacus and work out how many were left, again an activity she was able to complete, indicating the development of counting principles and basic numerical abilities.Child Development Essay Paper

As ‘C’ was in the very early stages of her school life, there is very much an emphasis on play rather than academic activities, as this begins to be introduced later in the school year, therefore much of the evidence of ‘C’s intellectual and cognitive development arose from the occasional structures activities and her interactions with peers and adults.

Moral and spiritual development:

Piaget (1965) suggested that moral development was a gradual process, running parallel to the stages of intelligence with each stage characterized by a different process (i.e. the pre-operational stage already discussed). He suggested that children go through a ‘heteronomous’ stage guided by societies rules and boundaries – which can be seen as very much enforced by school. As the child matures this becomes more ‘autonomous’ as these rules and values become an ingrained part of the child.

‘C’ is learning the rules of the classroom, and these eventually become fairly implicit (though occasionally children need reminding of the basics). Often I observed the class teacher telling the children to sit still, be quiet and to raise their hand when answering a question. Considering the age of ‘C’ she did not break rules frequently. Occasionally I observed the teacher warn ‘C’ if she was giggling and talking to a child sat next to her (not unusual behaviour for a 4-5 year old child) and ‘C’ would stop the behaviour. There were children in the class who did not respond to verbal warnings and they were either asked to sit on their own in a corner, or as a more severe punishment sent to another class. ‘C’ was therefore able to see the consequences of other children’s behaviour and realise that this could be applied to herself if she did not follow the ‘rules’. Bandura and McDonald (1963) also evidenced the influence of social reinforcement upon a child’s moral development. They found children’s moral judgements could be altered using reinforcements and social modelling, much the same as teachers use during lesson time.Child Development Essay Paper

Concept of self:

‘C’ continued to display a marked preference for playing with children of the same sex. Whilst she would occasionally join in with ‘boy’ games – such as playing with cars and construction games she demonstrated an overall preference for playing dress-up (she participated in a dress up game in two other observations, including dressing up in an apron and playing out a cooking scene) and taking an interest in animals- expressed through enactment, picking a story about a tiger and through drawing (I observed ‘C’ drawing a picture of herself walking 3 dogs.)

As I found out when observing ‘C’, with the exception of her dad, she comes from a predominately female family. She has two older sisters who have also previously been at the school who are twins. Due to the predominately female environment that ‘C’ has grown up in, it may be her preferences for gendered stereotyped activities may be learned behaviour, with children often learning perceived sex roles from parents and older siblings (Fauls and Smith 1956).

Again it is difficult to discuss ‘C’s concept of self, as it is largely based upon my observations. Whilst these observations were largely free of judgements it was difficult for me not to say how ‘C’ appears to be developing in her concept of self. She appears happy and content during her time at school (excluding the first observation) as she could be quiet she had begun to establish good relationships with other children and appeared to be developing healthy self-esteem and positive self-concept. I felt this was due to her close and supportive relationship with her mother and class teacher – both of whom appeared to take an interest in her work, encouraging ‘C’ when she had done something well.Child Development Essay Paper

How the child experiences their world:

Only during the first observation did I feel that perhaps ‘C’ might not be enjoying her school experience. During the first observation, conducted in very early September starting at 09:00 ‘C’ was what could only be described as very distressed when her mum dropped her off in the morning. She clung to her mums skirt and was crying refusing to let go. The teacher took her had and led her in to the classroom and then arranged for her to be sat with a teaching assistant, who had the child on her lap. When ‘C’ was encouraged to sit with her classmates she refused and began to cry again.

This suggested that ‘C’ was displaying separation anxiety (Bowlby 1973). However as Bowlby (1973) discusses this reaction will largely be due to a new and strange setting, considering it was one of ‘C’s first days at school ‘C’ was finding herself surrounded my new people without the knowledge that her primary caregiver was there so she could explore whilst having a secure base to which to return.

However as I progressed through the observation series ‘C’ began to settle into her surroundings and the new routine of school life. I observed two more sessions at the beginning of the day and ‘C’ gradually became less distressed, though she still said goodbye and gave her mother a cuddle, suggesting a continuation of the secure attachment.

Process of observing:
Experience of being an observer:

I initially felt very nervous of the whole project, though I felt this was largely down to the difficulties in securing not only a place to observe but also approaching a parent of a child who was going to be comfortable enough to allow a student social worker to observe. It is widely known that many people, especially parents of small children, have developed judgements of social workers largely due to the portrayal in popular media (Gibelman 2004). Fortunately I have very good links to the school I chose to complete my observations in – having already completed work experience a few years ago, therefore there were no problems in securing a placement as they already knew and had built up a level of trust.Child Development Essay Paper

The early years teacher introduced me to a parent, and I was expecting the mother to ask me lots of questions regarding the observation, whether they would be allowed a copy of my observations etcetera but the mother simply stated that it would be fine and that another of her children in the school had also been previously been involved in a study similar. I must have accidentally expressed my surprise at the ease of getting consent (I also thought that due to the age of the children many parents Child Development Essay Paper

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