As you reenter the realm of childhood, this time with an adult’s eyes,
Part I of this book can serve as a map or guide. It traces routes that investigators have followed in the quest for information about what makes children grow up the way they do, presents routes for studying child development, points out the main directions students of development follow today, and poses questions about the best way to reach the destination: knowledge.
In Chapter 1, we describe how the study of child development has evolved and introduce its goals and structure. We look at the many contexts in which a child develops—from the family to the culture—at a given point in time.
In Chapter 2, we introduce some of the most prominent theories about child development—theories that will come up in more detail later in this book. We explain how developmental scientists study children, what research methods they use, and what ethical standards guide their work.
About Child Development: A Preview
THE STUDY OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT
The scientific study of child development began during the late nineteenth century and has evolved to become part of the study of the full life span.
Developmental scientists study change and stability in the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial areas. •
Development is subject to internal and external influences.
Important contextual influences on development include family, neighborhood, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, culture, and history.
THEORY AND RESEARCH
Theoretical perspectives on child development differ on three key issues: (1) the relative importance of heredity and experience, (2) whether children contribute to their own development, and (3) whether development is continuous or occurs in stages.
Major theoretical perspectives