Childhood Developmental Stages WorksheetUsing the text for this course, the University Library, the Internet, and/or other resources, answer the following questions. Your response to each question should be at least 250 words in length.
1. What are the major milestones related to the physical development in early, middle, and late childhood? Briefly describe these milestones.
In early childhood fine motor skills develop beyond those of an infant. They are not yet to the point to where accurate writing and drawing are common; however, the young child’s skills have developed to the point that tasks such as threading beads on a string are possible (Boyd & Bee, 2006). The advancements in sensory-motor functioning, memory, and language that occur during early childhood are partly due to skeletal and muscular maturation, and partly due to neurological development and environmental variables. During early childhood lateralization of the brain, due to growth in the corpus callosum, occurs and brings with it the specialization of the hemispheres of the cerebral cortex. Of particular interest language assimilation and perception is the specialization of the left hemisphere of the brain, which appears to be at least partially due to genetically inherited traits. Early childhood also brings with it maturation of the reticular formation and the hippocampus, which probably account for advancements in memory functioning.
During middle and late childhood maturation of the bones, cartilage, and skeletal structure of the hands brings with it the ability to produce written language with a great deal of accuracy. It appears that girls develop faster than boys when it comes to coordination at this age, but that boys develop faster as to strength and speed. Furthermore, advances in attention regulation happen during this stage of development because of myelinization of the neurons that form the reticular formation. Myelinization of the reticular formation makes selective attention, “…the ability to focus cognitive activity on the important elements of a problem or situation” (Boyd & Bee, 2006, p. 233). Also, during middle and late childhood association areas, areas of the brain that connect sensory, motor, and intellectual functions, become further myelinized, which brings about spatial perception and the ability to differentiate between relative right-left orientation.
2. What are the major milestones related to the cognitive development in early, middle, and late childhood? How does cognition change from early, middle, and late childhood?
During early childhood advances in symbolic function and language occur, but thinking logically is still out of grasp. For instance, young children have increased abilities to understand maps, models, and graphic symbols, but they have not yet began think in terms of deductive and inductive reasoning. Early childhood is also marked by a tendency towards centration, or the tendency to classify objects by only variable. For example, a young child might think of all moving objects as animals, because all animals thus encountered move. At the end of early childhood begins the cognitive process of conservation or the understanding that even though the shape of an object might change its quantity might not change. Also Piaget postulated that egocentrism, the tendency to believe that our perspective is shared by everyone else, occurs in early childhood; however, Flavell expanded on Piaget’s assertions to accommodate current research. Flavell believed that the resolution of egocentrism in young children occurs in two stages: 1) the child knows that there are other perspectives 2) the child develops means by which to process, assimilate, reproduce, and accommodate these other perspectives. Lastly, during early childhood the ability to use the false belief principle comes into play. By using this principle children can begin to discern what information might be necessary for another person to believe something that is false.
During middle and late childhood advancements in the understanding of grammar and syntax bring about an increase in vocabulary on the scale of 5,000 to 10,000 words per year. These improvements in language produce the ability to, “…correctly use such tenses in their own speech…maintain the topic of conversation…create unambiguous sentences, and…to speak politely or persuasively” (Boyd & Bee, 2006, p.236). The huge increase in vocabulary is largely due to the advancements in the child’s development of categories of words, such as adjectives, adverbs, and nouns. Also, it is during middle and late childhood that children enter what Piaget called the concrete operational stage. During this stage decentration, the ability to account for objects and ideas in more than one variable, also occurs. It is largely due to this innovation that reversibility, the ability to reverse transformations; and inductive and deductive logic stem from. Now that the child can think of objects, situations, and ideas in inductive and deductive ways they can apply general rules to situations and vice versa apply situations unto the development of generalized rules, respectively. Neurologically speaking, these examples of cognitive progress can largely be accounted for by an increase in working memory capacity and the adoption of automaticity to relegate often used processes to secondary memory, thereby freeing up primary memory.
3. What role does Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory and Vygotsky’s Social Constructivist Approach play in understanding cognitive development in early, middle, and late childhood ?
In an oversimplified nutshell, Piaget emphasized internal and intrapersonal processing to account for childhood learning and Vygotsky built his theory around the social aspects of learning (Pass, 2007). However, it is clear from surviving correspondence between the two pedagogy specialists that the writings of each affect the writings of the other. For instance, prior to 1964, when the two child psychologists exchanged correspondence, Piaget had not yet integrated internal speech into his preoperational stage. He had only considered external speech (talking) as a learning instrument. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that Vygotsky’s stages of cognitive development during middle and late childhood are firmly grounded in his ideas of the zone of proximinal development and scaffolding that he postulated as part of infant cognitive development, by his emphasis on social communications as structures for further learning. Vygotsky’s stages of development are broken up into four phases: 1) primitive stage 2) naïve psychology stage 3) private speech stage and 4) ingrowth stage. During the primitive stage a child acts on lower animal instincts and conditioning. After the advent of language the child enters the naïve psychology stage where they begin to use language to communicate, but do not yet understand the symbolic nature of language. When the child begins to understand the symbolic nature of language, somewhere around year three, they enter the private speech stage in which they use language to explain to themselves how to accomplish tasks. The last stage, ingrowth stage, is the permanent embedding of internalized speech routines, as obtained from social interactions with older children and adults, that govern logical thinking from there on out.
On the other hand, Piaget emphasized individualistic development as a means for learning during early, middle, and late childhood. As with Vygotsky, Piaget believed that the symbolic nature of language eluded children until later development and therefore limited logically thinking during childhood development. However, Piaget emphasized egocentrism, centration, and a deficit in the understanding of conservation. Piaget highlighted the observation of more individualistic developments as a cornerstone of his theory of childhood progress. For instance, Piaget believed that young children were only able to see things from their own perspective, rather than from someone else’s perspective (egocentrism). He also believed that children were only able to consider one variable when observation an object or idea (centration). Even though many of these observations might be relevant to the cognitive development of children, they only tell half of the story. For, we do not live in a social vacuum. It is through social interaction and observational learning that we are able to overcome out early deficits in the areas of egocentrism and centration. In this way, Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories of childhood develop are complementary, different sides of the same coin as it were, rather than opposing positions.
4. What are the major milestones related to the socioemotional development in early, middle, and late childhood? What types of changes occur in peer relationships from early, middle, and late childhood?
In early childhood development the degree to which the child is attached to the caregiver is primary above any other socio-emotional factors. Nevertheless, as the child begins to understand that the caregiver exists even in their absence and further that the relationships with the caregiver persists indefinitely, they will begin to build an idea of self apart from the caregiver. Freud believed that the superego, collectively the conscience and the ego ideal, is formed by the age of 6 by following the example of the same-sex parent. The conscience encompasses the things that a child should not do and corresponds with feelings of guilt when violated; likewise, the ego ideal is a list of the things that a child should do and corresponds with shame when violated. Furthermore, Erikson added the idea of pride as a motivating factor in the development of moral emotions. It is also clear that the quality of the parent-child relationships strongly influence the moral development of the child.
Peer relationships are also very important in socioemotional development. Of particular interest is play during pre-school and elementary education, as this is when children are developing their sense of self and moral emotion. Play with peers facilitates problem-solving, perspective, taking, emotional and social skills, and the development of the theory of mind (Ashiabi, 2007). What’s more, the specific activity of pretend play helps children understand other people’s emotions and fosters the idea that more than one perspective of a situation is possible. Also, sociodramatic play encourages role-taking, which brings about the necessary moral elements of communication, empathy, and altruistic behavior.
5. How can families impact the development of young children?
As with many discussions of causal factors, the discussion of the actual effect that the family has on academic, social, and personality development of children is not so clear cut. There appears to be a correlation between mother’s education and family income with the IQ ratings of children; however, the scores are not consistent across all socio-economic strata (Wolfe, 1982). It is also clear that relative size of the family and the birth order of the child within the family have a measurable impact on academic performance. For instance, Wolfe (1982) states that, “If the net contribution of each sibling to training is negative, then intelligence will tend to decline with family size” (p. 215). Several studies have indicated that out-of-school economic and educational influences are only marginally good predictors of cognitive development within the school environment; but that birth order, family size, and innate temperament are better indicators of scholastic advancement.
On the other hand, Boyd and Bee (2006) emphasize the social aspects of family relationships, rather than family composition and enumeration, as a major influence in childhood development. When a child reaches the age of about 4 they are able to transpose the object permanence already associated with the caregiver onto the relationships itself. In essence, the child realizes that the relationship with the caregiver exists even when the caregiver is not present. Once this social construct is in place the child feels freer to venture out from the caregiver. However, the extent to which the child feels safe away from the caregiver is arbitrated by four family-related indicators as explained by Diana Baumrind: 1) warmth or nurturance 2) clarity and consistency of rules 3) level of expectation or maturity demands 4) communication between parent and child (Boyd & Bee, 2006). Baumrind also postulates four attachment styles that vary in their degree of the aforementioned indicators: 1) permissive parenting style: high in nurturance, low in maturity demands, control, and communication 2) authoritarian parenting style: high in control and maturity demands, low in nurturance and communication 3) authoritative parenting style: high in all four dimensions 4) non-involved parenting style: low in all four dimensions. The authoritative parenting style is the one that is most advantageous to childhood cognitive, social, and academic development. Conversely, the non-involved parenting style is the type of attachment that is most detrimental to childhood development.
ReferencesAshiabi, G. (2007). Play in the preschool classroom: Its socioemotional significance and the teacher’s role in play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(2), 199-207. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.
Boyd, D. and Bee, H. (2006). Lifespan development (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.
Pass, S. (2007). When constructivists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky were pedagogical collaborators: A viewpoint from a study of their communications. Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 20(3), 277-282. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.
Wolfe, J.R. (1982). The impact of family resources on childhood IQ. Journal of Human Resources, 17(2), 213-235. Retrieved September 21, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.