Early Childhood

Topics: Jean Piaget, Child development, Theory of cognitive development Pages: 5 (1677 words) Published: August 28, 2013
Early childhood is a time of remarkable physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. Infants enter the world with a limited range of skills and abilities. Watching a child develop new motor, cognitive, language and social skills is a source of wonder for parents and caregivers. The study of human development is a rich and varied subject. We all have personal experience with development, but it is sometimes difficult to understand exactly how and why people grow, learn and change. Developmental psychology seeks to understand and explain how people grow and change through the entire lifespan. Researchers study the enormous range of influences including how genetics shape a child's development as well as howexperiences play a role. Let's take a closer look at early childhood development including the basics of physical development and psychological growth. As a child matures, parents eagerly await important milestones such as learning how to roll over and crawl. Each of these represents a part of physical development. The maturation process happens in an orderly manner; that is, certain skills and abilities generally occur before other milestones are reached. For example, most infants learn to crawl before they learn to walk. However, it is also important to realize that the rate at which these milestones are reached can vary. Some children learn to walk earlier than their same-age peers, while others may take a bit longer. Motor Skill Development

As a child grows, his or her nervous system becomes more mature. As this happens, the child becomes more and more capable of performing increasingly complex actions. The rate at which these motor skills emerge is sometimes a worry for parents. Caregivers frequently fret about whether or not their children are developing these skills at a normal rate. As mentioned above, rates may vary somewhat. However, nearly all children begin to exhibit these motor skills at a fairly consistent rate unless some type of disability is present. There are two types of motor skills:

* Gross (or large) motor skills involve the larger muscles including the arms and legs. Actions requiring gross motor skills include walking, running, balance and coordination. When evaluating gross motor skills, the factors that experts look at include strength, muscle tone, movement quality and the range of movement.

* Fine (or small) motor skills involve the smaller muscles in the fingers, toes, eyes and other areas. The actions that require fine motor skills tend to be more intricate, such as drawing, writing, grasping objects, throwing, waving and catching. Physical Growth

Physical development in children follows a directional pattern: * Large muscles develop before small muscles. Muscles in the body's core, legs and arms develop before those in the fingers and hands. Children learn how to perform gross (or large) motor skills such as walking before they learn to perform fine (or small) motor skills such as drawing.

* The center of the body develops before the outer regions. Muscles located at the core of the body become stronger and develop sooner than those in the feet and hands.

* Development goes from the top down, from the head to the toes. This is why babies learn to hold their heads up before they learn how to crawl.

Early childhood is not only a period of amazing physical growth, it is also a time of remarkable mental development. Cognitive abilities associated with memory, reasoning, problem-solving and thinking continue to emerge throughout childhood. When it comes to childhood cognitive development, it would be impossible to avoid mentioning the work of psychologist Jean Piaget. After receiving his doctoral degree at age 22, Jean Piaget began a career that would have a profound impact on both psychology and education. Through his work with Alfred Binet, Piaget developed an interest in the intellectual development of children. Based upon his observations, he concluded...

References: Berk, L. E. (2006). Chapter 9 - Child Development (8th ed). Pearson.
Bjorkland, B. R. (1995). Language development and cognition. In David F. Bjorkland (Ed.), Children 's thinking: Developmental function and individual differences. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Deckner, D. F., Adamson, L. B., & Bakeman, R. (2003). Rhythm in mother-infant interactions. Infancy, 4,201-217.
Fernald, A. (1985). Four-month old infants prefer to listen to motherese. Infant Behavior and Development, 8, 181-182.
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