FEBRUARY 20, 2012
Child development is a process involving developmental milestones during predictable time periods. Brain maturation lays the foundation for all other aspects of a child’s development. Growth and development of the brain is rapid, exceedingly complex, and influenced by a combination of maternal environment and genetics (Marotz, p28). This paper will include the developmental characteristics/milestones of preschoolers, appropriate activities that will enhance their cognitive, motor, social, emotional, and language development, and how the activities will enhance their development. Child development is a process that every child must go through. Major markers or points of accomplishments are referred to as developmental milestones in tracking the emergence of motor, social, cognitive, and language skills. They represent behaviors that appear in somewhat orderly steps and within fairly predictable age ranges for typically developing children. With developmental milestones, the child will need to develop a portion of skills before he/ she can establish new ones (Marotz, p.26). Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget called early childhood the preoperational stage of cognitive development because children this age are not yet ready to engage in logical mental operations, as they will be in the concrete operational stage in middle childhood. The preoperational stage, which lasts from approximately ages 2 to 7, is characterized by the use of symbols to represent objects and relationships among them (Rathus, p.148). Advances in symbolic thought are accompanied by a growing understanding of causality, identities, categorization, and number. Some of these understandings have roots in infancy and toddlerhood; others begin to develop in early childhood but are not fully achieved until middle childhood (Papalia, p.269). At this age, preschoolers: request stories with riddles, guessing, and suspense, plays realistically, experiment with things to see how they work; takes objects apart and reassembles them into “new interventions”, places eight to ten pegs in a pegboard or six round and six square blocks in a form board, Attempts to draw; imperfectly copies circles, squares and some letters, sorts objects logically on the basis of one dimension; usually chooses color size as a basis for classification, identifies triangle, circle, square; can point to requested shape, listens attentively to age appropriate stories, and makes relevant comments during stories, especially those that relate to home and family events (Marotz, p.139). Motor Development
Children ages 3 to 6 make great advances in motor skills both gross motor skills, which involve the large muscles, such as running and jumping, and fine motor skills, manipulative skills involving eye-hand and small-muscle coordination, such as buttoning and drawing. They also begin to show a preference for using either the right or left hand. Motor skills do not develop in isolation. The skills that emerge in early childhood build on the achievements of infancy and toddlerhood. Development of the sensory and motor areas of the cerebral cortex permits better coordination between what children want to do and what they can do. Their bones and muscles are stronger, and their lung capacity is greater, making it possible to run, jump, and climb farther, faster, and better (Papalia, p.257). Preschoolers are able to: walk up and down stairs unassisted, balance momentarily on one foot, kicks a large ball, feeds self, needs minimal assistance, jumps in place, pedals a small tricycle or riding toy, catches a large bounced ball with both arms extended, enjoys swinging, shows improved control of crayons or markers, uses vertical, horizontal, and circular strokes, holds crayons or marker between first two fingers and thumb(tripod grasp), turns pages of book one at a time,...