Physical development in early childhood


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Physical development in early childhood

  2. 2. I. BODY GROWTH A. Changes in Body Size and Proportions • 1. On the average, 2 to 3 inches in height and about 5 pounds in weight are added each year. • 2. The child gradually becomes thinner; girls retain somewhat more body fat, whereas boys are slightly more muscular. • 3. Posture and balance improve, resulting in gains in motor coordination. • 4. Individual differences in body size are even more apparent during early childhood than in infancy. • 5. To determine if a child's atypical stature is a sign of a growth or health problem, the child's ethnic heritage must be considered.
  3. 3. B. Skeletal Growth s in which cartilage • 1. Between ages 2 and 6, approximately 45 epiphyses, or new growth center hardens into bone, emerge in various parts of the skeleton. • 2. X-rays permit doctors to estimate children's skeletal age, the best available measure of progress toward physical maturity. • 3. By the end of the preschool years, children start to lose their primary teeth.
  4. 4. II. BRAIN DEVELOPMENT A. Synaptic Growth and Pruning • 1.Brain metabolism reaches a peak around 4 years of age. By this time, many cortical regions have overproduced synapses, which results in a high energy need. • 2. The overabundance of synaptic connections is believed to play a role in the plasticity of the young brain. • 3. Synaptic pruning occurs as neurons that are infrequently stimulated lose their connective fibers and the number of synapses is reduced. This process is adaptive. • 4. A surprising feature of brain development is that rapid bursts of synaptic growth are accompanied by high rates of cell death in order to make room for the connective structures of active neurons. • 5. Plasticity is reduced by ages 8 to 10, and energy consumption of most cortical regions declines to near-adult levels.
  5. 5. B. Lateralization • 1.The two hemispheres of the cortex develop at different rates. • 2. The left hemisphere shows dramatic activity between 3 and 6 years and then levels off. • 3. Activity in the right hemisphere increases slowly throughout early and middle childhood, showing a slight spurt between ages 8 and 10. • 4. Differences in rate of development of the two hemispheres suggest that they are continuing to lateralize .
  6. 6. C. Handedness • 1.By age 2, hand preference is fairly stable, and it strengthens during early and middle childhood. • 2. The dominant cerebral hemisphere is the hemisphere responsible for skated motor action. The left hemisphere is dominant in right-handed individuals. In left-handed individuals, motor and language skills are often shared between the hemispheres. • 3. The brains of left-handers tend to be less strongly lateralized than those of right-handers. Many left-handers are ambidextrous. • 4. New evidence indicates that the way most fetuses lie in the uterus-turned toward the left- may promote greater postural control by the right side of the body. • 5. Left and mixed-handed children are more likely than their right- handed age mates to develop outstanding verbal and mathematical talents.
  7. 7. • D. Other Advances in Brain Development • 1. The cerebellum is located at the rear and base of the brain and aids in balance and control of body movement. • 2. The fibers linking the cerebellum to the cerebral cortex do not complete myelinization until about age 4. • 3. The reticular formation maintains alertness and consciousness; it myelinates throughout early childhood and continues growth into adolescence. • 4. The corpus callosum is the large bundle of fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres. Myelinization does not begin until the end of the first year of life, but is fairly advanced by age 4 to 5.
  8. 8. III. FACTORS AFFECTING GROWTH and HEALTH • Heredity and Hormones – 1. Children's physical size and rate of growth are related to that of their parents. – 2. The pituitary gland is a gland located near the base of the brain that releases hormones affecting physical growth. a. Growth hormone affects the development of almost all body tissues, except the central nervous system and the genitals. Short children with GH deficiency can be treated with injections of genetically engineered GH. b. Thyroid stimulating hormone stimulates the thyroid gland to release thyroxin, which is necessary for normal brain development and body growth.
  9. 9. IV. MOTOR DEVELOPMENT A. Gross Motor Development • 1. As children's bodies become more streamlined and less top- heavy, their center of gravity shifts downward toward the trunk and, as a result, their balance improves. • 2. By age 2, the preschooler's gait becomes smooth and rhythmic, leading to running, jumping, hopping, galloping, and skipping. • 3. As children become steadier on their feet, their arms and torsos are freed to experiment with new skills-throwing and catching balls, steering tricycles, and swinging on horizontal bars and rings
  10. 10. • 4. Five-year-olds run about twice as quickly as they did at age 2. Around age 4, gallops and one-step skips appear, and around age 6, children can skip in a well-coordinated manner. • 5. The first jumps appear around age 2. During the middle of the third year, the first two- foot takeoffs and landings can be seen. Between ages 2 and 3, children can hop a few times in succession, and 5- and 6-year-olds can hop skillfully. • 6. At ages 2 and 3, catching and throwing are awkward and stiff. Gradually, children use their shoulders, torso, trunk, and legs to support throwing and catching; consequently, the ball travels faster and further.
  11. 11. B. Fine Motor Development • 1. Self-Help Skills: a. During early childhood, children gradually become self-sufficient at dressing and feeding. b. Shoe tying, mastered around age 6, requires a longer attention span, memory for an intricate series of hand movements, and the dexterity to perform them. • 2. Drawing and Writing: a. As the young child's ability to mentally represent the world expands, marks on the page take on definite meaning. b. From Scribbles to Pictures: 1) Scribbles- Western children begin to draw during the 2nd year. At first, action, rather than the scribble itself, contains the intended message. 2) First Representational Shapes and Forms-By age 3, scribbles start to become pictures. Use of lines to represent object boundaries permits children to draw their first pictures of a person by age 3 or 4. 3) More Realistic Drawing5-More conventional figures, in which the body is differentiated from the arms and legs, appear by age 6.
  12. 12. • However, drawings at this age still contain perceptual distortions, such as a missing third dimension. c. Cultural Variations in Development of Drawing 1) Children's drawings reflect the interest in art demonstrated by other members of their culture. Children in cultures with little interest in art produce simpler forms. 2) Schooling provides opportunities to draw and write, see pictures, and grasp the notion that artistic forms have meanings shared by others. d. Early Printing: 1) As young children experiment with lines and shapes, notice print in picture books, and observe people writing, they try to print letters and, later on, words. 2) Often the first word printed is the child's name.
  13. 13. C. Individual Differences in Motor Skills • 1. Body build influences gross motor abilities. • 2. African-American children tend to have longer limbs, so they have better leverage in running and jumping than do Caucasian children. • 3. Boys are slightly ahead of girls in skills that emphasize force and power. • 4. Girls have a slight edge in fine motor skills and in certain gross motor skills that require a combination of good balance and foot movement, such as hopping and skipping. • 5. Social pressure for boys to be active and physically skilled and for girls to play quietly at fine motor activities may exaggerate small, genetically based differences.
  14. 14. D. Enhancing Early Childhood Motor Development • 1 Except for throwing, there is no evidence that preschoolers exposed to formal lessons are ahead in motor development. • 2. Preschools, day care centers, and playgrounds need to accommodate a wide range of physical abilities by offering a variety of pieces of equipment that differ in size or that can be adjusted to fit the needs of individual children. • 3. Criticism of a child's motor performance, pushing specific motor skills, and promoting a competitive attitude may undermine young children's motor progress.