Physical and Cognitive Development in Early ChildhoodBy: Jeff Price, Christopher Espinal, Agnes Aglourtarh, & Adaku Maduka
Growth in first year follows cephalocaudal and proximodistal patterns. Growth in height and weight is the major physical change in early childhood. An average child grows 2.5 inches in height and 5-7 pounds a year. Percentage increase in height and weight decreases with each additional year. The brain and nervous system develop significantly during infancy and slower during early childhood.
Gross Motor Skills At 3 years of age, children enjoy simple movements such as jumping, hopping and running. At 4 and 5 years of age, children are more adventurous.Fine Motor SkillsFine motor coordination such as picking up objects improves at ages 3 and 4.
What children eat affect their growth and susceptibility to disease. Good nutrition prevents overweight and obesity. Inadequate diet and malnutrition in early childhood is caused by poverty. Good exercise and physical activities promote healthy growth.Sleep: Children should get 11- 13 hours of sleep daily.
Diseases and other health disorders are major cause of illness during early childhood. Vaccines have eradicated many diseases that once resulted in the death of many young children. Young children’s active and exploratory nature often expose them to dangers that cause severe injuries or death.
The 2nd of Piaget’s 4 stages (2 to 7 years of age) comprised of the Symbolic Function Substage and The Intuitive Thought Substage. Children begin forming stable thoughts and concepts of what they used to only do physically. They still don’t perform mental operations which are reversible. ◦ Symbolic Function Substage (2-4 years old): children are able to mentally represent an object that is not there i.e. scribbles/drawings and pretend play. This is limited by Egocentrism - the inability to distinguish between one’s own prespective and that of others and Animism- the belief that inanimate objects are capable action. ◦ The Intuitive Thought Substage (4-7 years old): children begin to use basic reasoning and ask “Why” to figure out how things work yet their ideas are still very basic and not ready to make the mental jump to “what if”. They know what they know but not why they know it. Children in the Preoperational Stage show a lack of Centration as shown with Conservation. ◦ Centration: centering of attention on one characteristic to the exclusion of all others ◦ Conservation: awareness that altering an object appearance does not change its basic properties i.e. thinking a long strand of clay is larger than a ball of clay when both were rolled from equal sizes of clay.
Children’s cognitive development advanced through both social interaction with more skilled individuals and the tools that society provides. ◦ Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): A range of tasks: the higher limit is the level too difficult for a child to perform alone without the assistance of an adult or a more skilled child; the lower limit are the skills reached by a child working alone. The ZPD identifies the child’s cognitive skills that are maturing; the skills which may only be accomplished with help. ◦ Scaffolding (linked to ZPD): Reducing the level of support a teacher gives the child as the child’s new skill ability increases. ◦ Importance of Language and Thought Vygotsky believed language and thought develop separately and then merge, and all mental functions have external/social origins. Private Speech: children use language to help them work through tasks and self- regulate their behavior. Piaget saw it as egocentric and immature. Children use language 1st to communicate with others then, between 3 & 7 years old, children make the transition to internal speech Internal Speech – achieved when self talk becomes second nature and they are able to act without verbalizing. Vygotsky’s theories of ZPD, using more skilled peers as teachers and contextual instruction have been successfully integrated into modern teaching strategies.
Vygotsky takes a Social Contstructivist Approach, emphasizes the social contexts of learning and the construction of knowledge through social interaction. Teachers establish opportunities for children to learn with the teacher and more skilled peers. Language plays a major role in shaping thought. Piaget – children construct knowledge by transforming and reorganizing previous knowledge. Teachers help children to explore the world and discover knowledge. Language has minimal role.
Informational Processing has illuminated research on how children process information during preschool years and what are limits and advances in children’s attention, memory & problem solving. ◦ Attention -focusing mental resources on select information. ◦ Young children develop attention in 2 ways: Executive Attention: involves planning, goals & details. Develops as language and comprehension develops Sustained Attention: involves extended engagement with an object or task ◦ Preschooler’s control of attention is limited in 2 ways: Salient vs. relevant dimensions: Preschoolers pay more attention to Salient stimuli (stimuli that stands out) even if it is not relevant. After age 6 or 7 children are better able to focus. Planfulness: Preschoolers use more haphazard comparison strategy when compared to elementary school age children who are more systematic. ◦ Memory- retention of information is essential to children’s cognitive development. One idea of why short term memory increases during early childhood is because the speed of processing information improves. At this time memory also becomes more accurate. ◦ How accurate is memory: Age differences in children’s susceptibility to suggestion –preschoolers are more prone There are individual differences in susceptibility Interviewing techniques can produce distortions
Strategies and Problem Solving: ◦ Adults and older children rehearse and organize information to improve processing of information. ◦ It is not until about 4 years that child acquire the concept of perspectives – a single stimulus can be described in 2 different ways. The Child’s Theory of the Mind: the awareness of one’s mental process and the processes of others. From 18 months to 3 years developmental changes occur. ◦ Perception - By age 2 a child understands that a person will see what’s in front of their own eyes instead of what’s in front of the child’s eyes. By 3 they realize looking leads to knowing what’s in a container ◦ Emotions- The child can distinguish between positive and negative emotions. ◦ Desires- Children recognize that if people want something they will try to get it. ◦ By 5 years, most children understand that people can have different and sometimes false beliefs. And between 5 to 7 years, children begin to understand that people’s behaviors do not always reflect one’s thoughts and feelings. ◦ At age 7 and beyond children realize that people may have different interpretations of the same event. ◦ In early adolescence children understand that a person can have mixed feeling about the same event.
Both physical and cognitive development is very dramatic during early childhood, including development of language and information processing. According to Piaget, during the preoperational stage, children begin to represent the world in words, images and drawing. Most often, they talk to themselves in a process called self talk or private speech. Vygotsky sees dialogue as an important role of language in a child’s development.
They learn through the process of zone of proximal development or scaffolding. Language and thought initially develop independently of each other then merged. All mental function has internal and social origin.
Toddlers move quickly from producing two words utterances to creating three to four and five combinations. Transition from simple to complex sentences takes place between two to three. Develop sense of morphology after moving beyond two words utterance. Application of syntax during preschool.
Semantic Four to five, they develop their own style By six, there is language development in pragmatic. Environmental and parental influence is crucial in the child’s ability to read and write.
The Child-Centered Kindergarten ◦ Experience, Process , and Activities influences child ◦ Importance on Development ◦ Based on Childs need’s The Montessori Approach ◦ Freedom; chance to make decisions ◦ Teachers only help when necessary ◦ Pros: Time management and problem solving skills ◦ Cons: No interactions, imaginative play, or creativity
Developmentally Appropriate and Inappropriate Education ◦ Active learning ◦ Learning more than content ◦ Guidelines ◦ Difficult to generalize, different programs
Project Head Start: government funded program for low-income families to give children opportunities Head Start early head start Not all created equal, some more focused on expansion Studies show more cognitive and social development
Curriculum Controversy ◦ Child Centered vs Direct Instruction ◦ Many high-quality programs include both ◦ Experts worry academic approach place pressure to achieve (no chance to understand or construct knowledge) ◦ Shouldn’t focus only on cognitive development Universal Preschool Education ◦ Fans (Zigler and colleagues): prepare children, less likely to be held back a grade or drop out, cost savings for justice services ◦ Critics: gains overstated, no proof that nondisadvantaged children improve from attending, young children should be educated by parents
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