R3 - Child Development
BY FERN HOSKIN
Familiar topics within this module as my Degree in Sport and Recreation focused on this topic quite thoroughly in relation to children’s growth and development in an applied fitness environment.
It interested me a lot to see the physical developmental issues with relation to resistance training, when their bodies are ready and what is their optimal stages for generating physical and mental developments. From this I have a perceived view on what I liked and what I didn’t and from memory, there are a lot I really objected against.
To begin with – the definition of child development states that it is the time at which change develops over, which happens in an ‘orderly’ pattern. These changes progress towards enhancing survival.
This statement is fairly explanatory, yet confuses me with why the development of identifying the stages of development were a struggle for many years. I feel in somewhat manner, of anger over this subject, which the professionals used to be so stereotypical about. I understand that the development of these theories were well thought out, and probably as good as they could have been at the time, but really, calling children evil and comparing their development to animals frustrates me.
I believe in every child being an individual, which cannot always be fit into a molded, prototyped theory. That generalization may have confined children of the past and that there were many, as still are who are not fully understood. In saying this, I despise the thought of children feeling inferior, being forced into adulthood and being compared to animals is ridiculous. I cannot imagine some of the situations where children back in the early centuries would have experienced isolation, constraints and humiliation and many more negative experiences.
However, the path has been set for children of the 21st century to fulfill their capabilities and make the most of their abilities, not dwell on them or be called ‘different’. To develop in different speeds and in different ways is ok now.
This term development comes in stages. These stages are timely and may take a while to develop, but gradually complexity grows, as does the child. These are:
- · The prenatal period – from conception until the day they are born.
- · Infancy and ‘toddlerhood‘ – once born until two years old.
- · Early childhood – from two years until 6 years of age.
- · Middle childhood – 6 years until 12 years of age.
- · Adolescence – from 12 years until 19 years of age (Dabner, 2014).
These categories are then broken down further by adding three important factors to consider, which they didn’t used to understand back centuries ago. I see them as all being fairly equal in importance of understanding, without one, another system fails and so on. The breakdown:
- · Physical
This is the body size of the child, body proportions it has, overall appearance, brain development, motor development, perception capacities, and physical health.
I think of this as all parts that grow visually and internally towards making you bigger, brighter and stronger.
- · Cognitive
This involves the brainy type of stuff. The thought processes and intellectual abilities, which include the attention span, memory ability, problem solving, imagination, creativity, academic and everyday knowledge, metacognition, and language.
Quite obviously this involves the big thinker up top: the brain side of things – where the thinking and connections happen. The ability for children’s brains to receive, process and deliver information.
- ·Social & Emotional Domain
This is self-knowledge and perception of ones self i.e. your self-esteem, metacognition, sexual identity and ethnic identity. It is where your moral reasoning falls, your emotions are created and delivered here, self-regulation measured, temperament, understanding others and interpersonal skills, and friendships are built off of.
You social and emotions center – where the mushy, sensitive and feelings files are stored. Where you process social skills aspects of your personality.
This next part is a break down of a simplified version of a series of events in regards to the developmental process, which has been undertaken since the 15th century to the current practice.
- · 15th/16th - Medieval period, children seen as adults
- · 16th - Century Reformation period, children born evil
- · 17th - Age of enlightenment, nurturing response present
- · 18th - Age of reason, stages of development beginning
- · 19th - Industrial revolution, connections made between animal prenatal and human stages
- · 20th - Finally seen worthy for attention on development, still being discovered
Many theorists were part of this timeline, including Sigmund Freud’s theory on psychosexual theory focussed on sexual and aggressive drives and Erik Erikson on psychosocial theory – mind games and tricks approach. These theories and approaches to child development lead to the discovery of current practices and understanding of our children.
These theories focus on some of the following aspects of development;
- · Behaviorism – reward stimulation offered
- · Social learning -, observation and imitation learning
- · Biological – growth and behaviour determines what is normal
- · Attachment – infant survival insured by caregiver
- · Cognitive – active learners/involvement and interactions
- · Info processing – info stored in memory, retrieved when needed to solve problem.
- · Systems – too complex for just one theory
I understand that with this layout and the time back in the 15th century and so on that the development of children’s understanding was very brief and scarce, with limitations over just about all aspect of life being simpler back then. Technology and information wasn’t available for them. However it was closer towards the 18th/19th century that you would expect leaps and bounds to be being made, in a more pronounced fashion.
Which questions my brain and makes me think; imagine if they had all their tools in a pile and had made findings earlier, had more information back then etc., what would be different today? How more advanced would we understand the developmental process now and would it be positively effecting the youth of today? I struggle to justify any reason why it wouldn’t be.
Here’s what I see as being most important to me as a teacher:
- · Cognitive Development
This is oh so important to me and my understanding and knowledge about this dimension, because it has a lot to do with how effectively my students learn in my classroom and interact within my classroom.
For myself as a teacher, I want every child to be able to participate, learn, join in and grow as a learner and young developer. I want my students to feel capable and ‘normal’ regardless of their cognitive stages. This requires from me to have a sound understanding of my learners, the barriers they face and have in place strategic plans to ensure that ‘know soldier gets left behind’.
It is what I see as the most important of the three dimensions for children, with the others being based around this soul important one, and most important for myself included. This is the bigger picture. This aspect can define a child’s whole learning life and, if not understood or treated in the correct way, they may not reach full potential, purely because they may have something different about their cognitive development.
For a developing child, the ability to make connections, see and receive information, thinking, intellectual ability, the ability to solve problems, be creative with imagination, be creative in general, understand the world around you and develop the essential skills to growing up and developing, this is the big epicenter of the child.
- Birth – 2 years
Sensorimotor – experiencing the world through senses and actions
- 2 – 6 years
Perceptional – representing things with words and images
Pretend to play
- 7 – 11 years
Concrete Operational – thinking logically
- 12 - adulthood
Formal Operational – thinking about hypothetical scenarios and processing abstract thoughts
Potential for mature moral reasoning
This table represents the cognitive stages, which as a primary teacher, I will have to know in and out and understand. This table identifies the child’s suggested pathway through cognitive development, if child follows generalized trends.
In the junior end of the spectrum, I see problems, which may arise for myself could be – being so attentive to every one child’s needs which may vary with massive jumps in difference. The younger age group demands a more applied approach to learning and it requires so much more time, patience, and detail and suffices to regulate a learning routine, which caters for all.
Regardless of this difficulty however, I shall do my best to provide a supportive and inclusive learning environments which all children feel comfortable in. The younger children may also still be developing crucial skills to do with basic reading, writing, speaking so any learning implications may not have been detected just yet, it would be my job as their teacher to identify struggles and manage the children’s needs as I see fit for each individual.
In the middle spectrum, I can see possible problems arising regarding the anxiety of failing or doing something wrong and vulnerability some children feel once immersed into a new or challenging learning environment. I have a boy like this at my placement school; he has high anxiety and very high standards of himself. He’s one of two children in my class who have identified learning and developmental problems, and being a very new teacher, daunted me when I seen one of them get anxious and scream. But this was nothing out of the ordinary my Associate Teacher, insisted.
The prefect example of this which I can think of to combat this anxiety and assure students in themselves is a agreement between my Associate Teacher and the students, who are allowed to release anxiety at any time, by simply removing themselves from the uncomfortable situation or the use of a small squeeze ball, which many of the students in the class use to release any tension which may have built up. This approach doesn’t distract the class; each child understands the rules, which come with holding the squeeze, balls and respects the privilege.
Within the senior spectrum, the challenges I see which may cause problems, be more related to the pure slowly developmental individuals who are lacking the basic ground work which most children their age have. This can cause embarrassment and the unjust they feel for not knowing. The need for a supportive environment here is vital – with children developing life long opinions and judgments, this time needs to be a positive one.
These problems can vary from the child not being able to process the information, not understanding the questions, struggling intellectually, mentally, and cognitively.
Children may have been diagnosed with diagnosed with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, anxiety and many more diagnosis, which are now recognized and better understood than when children were forced into adulthood in the 16th century.
Luckily enough, I have a great interest in catering for students who have ‘special’ learning needs and require different approaches to learning. I was a part time aid in my towns local Special Education department. This job was based around the physical aspect of the department with me creating a functional movement screen. Although this approach was more ‘physically’
This gave me what I think is such a valuable life lesson; the ability to accommodate for special learning needs, but deliver any communications without lowering the demeanour or self esteem of the individual.
This is one of my proudest accomplishments, which wasn’t self assessed, it was given to me in feedback from a member of the department. This quality I hold high and am proud of the fact that, I can make people who may be less fortunate or be facing many physical, mental and developmental deficiencies feel just as any other child their age.
It’s not the end of the world…
If however a child in my classroom does not follow this timeline of developmental factors, this may cause great problem for the child and myself, if unprepared. Which I can probably say, over my career may happen, but its not make or break, as long as support is given and the correct steps followed up with. I am learning, this is my learning as well. I will do my utter most best to provide for every single student I come into contact with, with no doubt I say that.