Child Development

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Learning Outcome 1: “Understand and evaluate different methods of assessment of child development”.

There are many theories which look at child’s development and the impact internal and external factors can have on these. For this assignment I will be exploring a theoretical perspective which will look at how child development is assessed. This will link in with my child observation undertaken within a nursery setting.

Child development is a process where children learn skills called their developmental milestones. Children develop in five main stages of development:

Cognitive development – solving problems, and exploring the environment.

Social and Emotional development – Interaction with others, including helping others, as well as self control.

Speech and language development – this is about the child’s ability to both understand and use language.

Fine motor skill development – child’s ability to use small muscles, using their hands and fingers, picking up small objects.

Gross motor skill development – Child’s ability to use large muscles, for example, sitting, standing, walking, and skipping.

The main theories that I will look at within this assignment is the behavioural and social child developmental theories.

The behavioural theory will look at the environmental interactions which influence behaviour. This is about the interaction between the individual and the environment. Behavioural theory is an observational behaviour. B.F Skinner’s research is about operant conditioning and negative reinforcement. (http://psychology.about.com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/bio_skinner.htm). Changes to behaviour could result in changes to events within the child’s environment. Skinner’s behavioural theory talks about a stimulus-response pattern, where the child’s response produces a consequence. Rein forcers can be positive or negative and both are used to strengthen behaviour. Reinforcement may occur as strength, such as verbal praise, or feeling of accomplishing something positive. Negative reinforcement is also discussed within this theory, whereby taking advice listening to warnings of others, and obeying rule, without having a negative consequence. Operant conditioning is often applied within a teaching environment, such as a nursery setting. When previous behaviour is rewarded, children will happily repeat those behaviours, feeling they ‘want’ to behave in this way, whereas if there has been negative reinforcement the child will feel their self-determination has been quashed.

Carl Rogers sees society’s role as a barrier in people becoming what they are meant to be. He sees that society should allow freedom to try different things and live in different ways. He suggests there be less structure. Rogers suggest the use of operant conditioning would not be beneficial to people being able to experiment with their lifestyles. Rogers theory was around person-centred. This gave Freedom of choice – not being hindered by the restrictions that influence a distinct individual; they are able to make a wider range of choices more fluently. They believe that they play a role in determining their own behaviour, so this makes them feel more responsible for their own behaviour. Freud also agrees with Skinner that society needs to accept the responsibility it has concerning the behaviours, to an extent.  However, Freud agrees with Rogers that society is too restrictive. Skinner believes society controls behaviours to maximize desired ones, while Freud believes there should be channels provided for these coerced to ease conflict. (Nye, 2000)

Within the nursery setting, they are inclined to use positive reinforcement techniques for a way of managing children’s behaviours and encouraging good behaviour. Positive reinforcement does not always work and often negative reinforcement techniques may be used as a last resort.

The first steps of behaviour are learnt within the home environment. At home children will see...
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