Understanding Child and Young Person Development

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Unit 506

Understanding child and young person development

The principles of child and young person development

Children and young people’s development is holistic with each area being interconnected. I always remember to always look at the ‘whole’ child or young person. You need to look at all areas of their development in relation to the particular aspect of development or learning you are focusing on. For example, when observing a young person’s writing skills as well as looking at their intellectual development you will need to consider the pupil’s: * Physical development (fine motor skills when using a pencil or pen) * Language development and communication skills (vocabulary and structure of language used during their writing) * Social and emotional development (interaction with others and behavior during the writing activity).

The basic patterns of child and young person development

It is more accurate to think in terms of sequences of children and young people’s development rather than stages of development. This is because stages refer to development that occurs at fixed ages while sequences indicates development that follows the same basic pattern but not necessarily at fixed ages. You should really use the term ‘sequences’ when referring to all aspects of development. However, the work of people such as Mary Sheridan provides a useful guide to the milestones of expected development, that is, the usual patterns of development or norm. As well as their chronological age, children and young people’s development is affected by many other factors e.g. maturation, social interaction, play opportunities, early learning experiences, and special needs. The developmental charts below do indicate specific ages, but only to provide a framework to help you understand the basic patterns of development. Always remember that all children and young people are unique individuals and develop at their own rate.

Stages of development

Infancy from birth to one year
Early years from one to three years
Childhood from four to seven years
Puberty from 8–12 years
Adolescence from 13–16 years.

Multiple attachments

John Bowlby is well known for his descriptions of bonding and attachment and confirmed the idea that all children need consistent carers to allow them to develop attachments and start to form loving relationships with their carers. If the period following birth is interrupted by illness in mother or baby, or is characterised by many different carers, a child may have difficulty in forming close relationships in later life. It used to be thought that a baby could form a close attachment only to the mother, but this has been shown not to be the case. Children can and obviously do form strong bonds with a wide range of people, for example grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and others. It is regular and frequent contact that is important, and even where a child has a normal attachment to parents and family, it is important that in a nursery setting a young baby or toddler is allowed to develop an attachment to at least one regular carer. A child who has formed close bonds with several important people will be far more secure than a child who has not done so. Where there is a strong sense of security in a child, there is likely to be less emotional trauma caused by future separations from the main carers. Often a very clingy child will have had some difficulty in the early years in forming a close bond with carers. However, good attachments mean that when his or her main carer is not around a baby or child will show ‘separation anxiety’ through crying, screaming and, if old enough, trying to follow the carer. Separation anxiety will start around six to seven months and continue until around three years when a child can understand that mummy is going to come back! Part of this is the development of a concept called ‘object permanence’ – that even if you cannot see something it is still...
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