An understanding of the full depth and breadth of a child’s development is a prerequisite to effective work with children and youth, especially when the practitioner wants to concern himself with deviations from normal development’. (Maier, 1969) For this assignment the method of observation used was naturalistic observation, which is a method of observation used by psychologists, ‘they observe people in their normal environment’s’(Boyd, 2007) This type of observation is called naturalistic because behaviour is allowed to unfold naturally (without interference) in its natural environment - that is in the setting that it will normally occur. The major strengthen of naturalistic observation is that it allows researchers to study behaviour under conditions that are less artificial than in experiments. Another plus is that in engaging with naturalistic observation can represent a good starting point when little is known about the behaviour understudy. (Wayne, 2010) This method is arguably most practical when little or nothing at all is known about the matter one is going to observe as there are merits (and demerits) to it. It helps the observer get a true glimpse of what is really happening in the life of the observed, in other words, helps to make sense of a child’s behavioural pattern. The disadvantage though, could be the time limitation. In clinical observation, one could observe for as long as one needs to but with naturalistic observation, in order to keep interference to a minimum, there will be limited time of observation and this may hinder the accuracy of getting the real feel of what is going on in the life of the observed. Another disadvantage to the naturalistic observation is the observer sometimes does not knowing what to record. A lot of times, bits of recording are missed because of the speed at which some of these actions take place, concentration loss by the observer and the distraction of other children who were engaging with the observer as they were curious as to whom the observer was, and what was the purpose of the observer being in their setting. This was a disadvantage for the observation as this took the observer away from the child that was being observer to engage with other children.
For the purpose of this essay, a one hour planned observation over four sessions was undertaken, monitoring and studying a selected child, Child A. Observing his interests, social interaction and the way he played within the setting his relationship with his peers and teachers, and general level of development were the focus and aim of the observation. It is therefore the aim of this essay to see if this naturalistic approach is effective by using and reflecting upon Piaget’s theory of play and evaluating how the observation process will improve on ones knowledge of child development in relation to social work. Jean Piaget is mostly noted for introducing the stages of child development. These stages directly relate to play, as he stated that intellectual growth occurs as children go through the stages of assimilation, or manipulating the outside world to meet one's own needs--playacting--and accommodation, or readjusting one's own views to meet the needs of the outside environment, or work.
Play is a very important part of a child’s development which has been agreed upon by various theorists many classical theorists in the 19th and early 20th centuries studied the origins of play and tried to explain why it exists and the part it plays in human development (Saracho & Spodek, 1995). Herbert Spencer described play as the purposeless expenditure of buoyant strength (as cited in Peller, 1996; Saracho & Spodek, 1995). It also has been described as the product of superfluous energy left over when people's primary needs are met (Rubin, 1982). Because children's primary needs are met by parents, less of their
energy is used for survival (Saracho & Spodek, 1995). According to this perspective, children love play...
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