Child development entails a series of biological and emotional changes that one goes through right from birth to adolescence. These include social development that allows children to interact with people within their environment and intellectual development that is necessary for them to acquire education. This stems from the fact that humans take a keen sense in adapting to the immediate environment. As for children, there is no doubt that they are continuously engaged in a search for self-identity and culture, something they find in their immediate environment. Human development can be categorized into newborns, infancy, toddler, preschooler, school-going age, adolescence which marks the end of childhood. These stages are quite distinct and the mode of learning applied in each stage is quite unique.
This paper analyses the individual behavior of children as they grow up and the modes of learning they use at every stage of their lives. It also observes how the child tends to learn from older people in terms of character, emotions as well as intellectual capacity. In this regard, a personal study of different children was carried out to establishing important aspects of this development. During the entire course of the study, the child is not aware of that they are under observation so that they do not doctor their behavior, thus leading to findings that cannot apply to most children for purposes of study. It must be noted that the study will only cover a few students who will be used as a representative sample (Eva, 2010).
Method of Study
Generally the study of human development employs different research methods, most of which also find application in psychology. However, child development cannot make use of the same methods because most children have underdeveloped mental status and, therefore, need a special method of study. Basically, it involves systematic observation of characteristics as the child grows within a society and as it learns to interact with the immediate environment. This includes naturalistic observation with minimal social or environmental induction from the people around. During the course of the study, children are neither supposed to be reminded about behavior nor corrected when they seem to be doing something out of the ordinary. This will enable them to naturally express their natural mode of learning and eliminate interference with their process of learning. As for the assessment of mental development, it will involve listening to the child play alone in the playing room or playing with his or her colleagues in the field. The ability to speak coherently and accurately is the basis of this assessment. Child’s expression of emotions on the course of the play will also form the basis for assessment of emotional development. The same will apply to social development where the ability and ease of interaction with persons of different age would be assessed over time. Employing this method of research is significant because it minimizes influence on the child’s behavior.
The case study involves little girls who are observed to be smiling alone and making funny sounds. He seems to be talking about his dad and his toy boat although it is not clear exactly what he is saying about them. In a moment, he picks sand and starts to play with it on a water wheel. He scoops sand with the tip of a shovel and meticulously spills it on top of a water wheel. He seems to enjoy the scene with his friend Michael, who looks awed at how the sand causes the water wheel to spin. Sophie looks keen to repeat this severally just to cause the scene again and again. During all this session, the two children do not really talk to one another even though they seem to enjoy the same game. Later on, another child, Jane, grabs the limelight as she goes straight to the problem solving area. She picks up a picture card and carefully places it on the activity board in order to let everyone know the game that she has chosen. This is exactly how the teacher had earlier told them to do whenever they went to the problem solving area. When interrupted by her colleagues who want her to join them in playing with marbles, she willingly accepts. This marks the beginning of her process of socializing.
- Physical Development
Physical development starts with the child learning to stand upright, maintain a steady gait and play with any materials around. This enables the child to play games of different nature. For instance, Sophie picks up some sand and starts to play with it on a water wheel. Indeed, it is at this stage that parents should intervene by providing children with toys and other materials that will improve their physical development (Michele, 2007). According to literature, physical development concerns the actual physical maturation of children’s body until the children get to adulthood. However, this process is highly variable and quite unique to every child in terms of the growth spurts. For example, while some children only take a few months to attain a steady gait, others may take up to a few years before they can learn to stand on their own. According to studies, this relative timing in human development is closely related to other aspects of human development like psychological and intellectual ones. Currently, physical development of children is measured in terms of head circumference, arm span or weight as they seem to have a direct correlation with child development. However, they can be limiting in pathological states when the body does not grow proportionately due to congenital abnormalities or even infections.
- Cognitive Development
At some point in life, child becomes conscious of his or her environment. They basically begin to play with anything they find around. For example, pets become their best friends. Even when they cannot rise up and play, children usually start giving smiles to inanimate objects, a sign that they recognize these objects. According to literature, cognitive development focuses on the child’s ability to process information, comprehend language and execute instructions. Lately, a lot of research has been done about children’s perception of the world and how they learn through imagination and imitation. Although most of his theories on cognitive development are no longer relevant, Jean Piaget has been hailed as one of the major scholars in this aspect of human development. In fact, most of the things he initiated like object permanence still form the basis of further research in this filed. For example, the controversial debate concerning nature and nurture as the determinants of human character no longer holds. Scholars in this field now recognize that these two concepts are additive, and that genetic influence on child’s development cannot be studied in isolation from the social environment with which the child interacts. This conforms to Vygotsky’s theory of child development which postulates that experience forms the perfect basis of children’s learning. However, their mentors should be on the look out to realize that they are ready to learn a new thing so that they can ensure that they only learn things right. Essentially, it takes a unique combination of natural interaction and object induction for children to learn good values.
The first person the child socializes with is the mother. Even in terms of physical development, they learn to talk to their mothers as well as pronounce their names before anything else. This implies that the immediate social environment should be ideal as it would help children to develop into more sociable people. For example, Jane is quite confident as she grabs the limelight and goes straight to the problem solving area. When interrupted by her colleagues who want her to join them in playing with marbles, she willingly accepts the invitation. This marks the beginning of her process of socializing and corporation with other people. Ideally, social development holds great significance in determining children’s character, courage and learning abilities. According to literature, poverty can be a major hindrance to learning, causing children to develop poor learning abilities. Although people chose to associate this with the lack of adequate learning materials, it is the environment that significantly affects children’s ability to learn and comprehend ideas. It has been established that poor learning among children from poor families results from lack of cognitive stimulation. They basically tend to believe that failure is the way of life and that there is no need to try too hard. In fact, it takes the assurance of parents to make such kids motivated and hardworking again. Children tend to develop slowly when they lack strong social appeal because future mentors prefer to associate with outgoing persons as compared to dull characters (Oralie & Deborah, 2007).
- Emotional development
Emotional development starts with self awareness and one’s awareness of the immediate environment. This implies that one would not need to worry about how he or she would behave when faced with a tricky situation. For a child to learn this value, he or she must have the right mentors who practice what they say. Thus, when told that one does not need to cry when his or her demands are not met, children should see this tolerance in their mentors. Usually, children live under the custody of their parents for a long time, implying that they learn most of their values from them. However, if parents don’t adhere to these norms, children get an impression that they don’t really have to behave well because even their parents don’t. Emotional development is very important for every human as it helps to regulate one’s behavior and gives them the time to think before they act. According to literature, persons with good emotional intelligence feel motivated enough to study and grasp whatever they learn. Thus, child development should focus on this with a view to enabling children become good scholars and excellent students when they eventually go to school. This agrees with Piaget’s theory which emphasizes that children learn best when they are given the chance to grow and acquire knowledge through participation and experience. Thus, elders should play their role in child development by providing the appropriate learning materials and availing them to children.
Piaget Theory of Child Development
Besides being able to give a smile, Sophie engages in a series of sole plays. She repeatedly scoops sand and tips it over to the water wheel as she plays. This means that she is perfectly aware of his environment and is, therefore, able to apply her motor system to learn a few things by trial and error. Thus, it is clear that her thoughts are purely derived from her movements as well as her sensations. According to literature, this mode of learning is typical of the sensi-motor stage of child learning, where child begins to realize that he is quite distinct from his environment and that he can manipulate some aspects of his environment to enjoy himself. It is the stage at which children begin to value toys and other play materials. This should be exploited in early childhood learning programs in order to realize maximum learning in children of this age. According to this theory, children learn best when they are given the chance to grow and acquire knowledge through participation and experience. Thus, elders should play their role in child development by providing the appropriate learning materials and availing them to children. Thus, Piaget emphasizes that children should not be raised as people without ability because they possess the ability to grow both socially and intellectually. However, the theory maintains that this must include all the prerequisite stages of development without having to jump pass any of them. It basically explains both physical and emotional development in children.
Sophie also makes sounds, talking about his dad and his boat. He seems to be associating the boat with his dad, a significant sign of cognitive development. Cognitive development focuses on the child’s ability to process information and execute instructions. It can be said that Sophie is beginning to look at things and draw a meaning that can cause him to smile and make particular movements. It is, therefore, clear that he is realizing social orientation from his imaginations of and associations with inanimate objects. This agrees with the fact that the advent of cognitive development still follows the conventional rule that children start by dependence on other people’s actions to ability to capture abstract principles of communication. In fact, most of the things initiated like object permanence still form the basis of further research in this field. Recently, developments have been made on these models with a view to fully integrate some of his postulations in the current models.
Vygotsky’s Theory of Child Development
The idea of self-speech clearly appears in Sophie’s games. He constantly talks to himself about his boat and his dad. Perhaps there is some idea that causes him to associate the two. However, it manifests the principle that children’s ability to learn is significantly depends on their past experiences. Thus, social interaction is said to play a fundamental role in helping children draw a meaning from things that they observe. In Sophie’s case, he could be remembering something he saw his dad do with the boat. The fact that he talks and smiles about it implies that he attaches strong emotions about the boat and his dad. Essentially, it takes a unique combination of natural interaction and object induction for children to learn good values. This has been employed in social and emotional development in children.
It has been established that low level of learning among children from poor families (poverty) results from lack of cognitive stimulation. In fact, it takes the assurance of parents to make such kids motivated and hardworking again. Conversely, emotional development starts with self awareness and one’s awareness of the immediate environment. This ideally enables one to take control of his or her actions so that one does not live to regret anything. As for children’s learning it is necessary for them to have the right mentors who practice exactly the things that they say (Sue & Carol, 1997). Children learn most values from their parents. However, if parents don’t adhere to these norms, children get an impression that they don’t really have to behave well because their parents also don’t. Emotional development is very important for every human as it helps to regulate one’s behavior and gives them the time to think before they act.
As the children lined up to go inside, Jane’s keenness on building on her prior knowledge and experiences is quite noticeable. She appears so oblivious of what is going on around her, only focusing on what she was doing. This is a critical stage in Piaget’s theory of child development whereby children generally idolize the use of symbols to personify new ideas. According to Piaget, children at this stage begin to think more about things that are not within their immediate environment or those that happened sometime in the past. Basically, their thoughts are significantly affected by things they fantasize about rather that what really happens. In addition, Piaget notes that children generally become egocentric at this stage of life, always assuming that everyone else sees things exactly how they do.
Ideally, child education should consider all the five domains of child development as this will grant them a holistic development. For example, teaching should be geared towards enabling children develop social attachment to their friends as well as their parents. This implies that their learning should not be confined to the classrooms, but adequate time should be given for them to freely interact outside the classrooms. In addition, children should have enough time with their parents as this will strengthen their social bond and improve their ability to socialize. It also includes the ability to cooperate with other people as manifested in Jane’s acceptance to play marbles with her colleagues. Such opportunities should be provided for children so that they develop into people who are all rounded. According to literature, children should also engage in various games in which they take an active role as this will help them to develop special motor skills. For example, they will learn to handle their delicate toys with care for fear of breaking them and remaining without any. In the process, they generally learn to be cautious and careful with whatever they handle. This would form the basis of their intellectual capacity. It also significantly boosts their creativity and emotional strength that will enable them tackles life’s challenges as they grow up. Essentially, learning should give children the opportunity to naturally express themselves without being limited by other people’s thoughts. However, their teachers should promptly correct them if they are going to do something that is potentially harmful to their lives. For example, as Sophie repeatedly scooped the sand and tipped it over to the water wheel as he played, it would be ideal to let her know the dangers of playing with cutting objects. However, it should be appreciated that this implied he was perfectly aware of his environment and therefore able to apply his motor system to learn a few things by trial and error.
In conclusion, child development is a synchronized process of maturation that is significantly modified by genetic as well as environmental factors. While genetic factors can define a child’s development, a combination of both genetic and environmental factors is usually the case.