Principles of Development
By S.R. Hooper|W. Umansky
Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Although children develop at different rates and, therefore, the notion of interindividual differences exists, a single child can show more rapid change in some developmental areas than in others; thus, intraindividual differences also exist. Regardless of the perspective, there are certain principles of development that apply to all children. These include the following: • Development progresses in a step-by-step fashion. It is orderly, sequential, and proceeds from the simple to the complex. Each achieved behavior forms the foundation for more advanced behaviors. • Rates of development vary among children as well as among developmental areas in a single child. • Development is characterized by increasing specificity of function (differentiation) as well as integration of these specific functions into a larger response pattern. A good example of this principle is the infant startle reflex. When an infant is startled, his entire body tenses and his arms move out to the side. With age, this reflex becomes integrated into more specific behavioral patterns such that a startled preschooler will tense only the shoulder and neck muscles. • Neurological development contributes significantly to the acquisition of physical skills in young children. Physical development proceeds in cephalocaudal and proximodistal directions. Cephalocaudal development describes the progression of body control from the head to the lower parts of the body. For example, an infant will achieve head, upper trunk, and arm control before lower trunk and leg control. Proximodistal development describes progress from the central portions of the body (i.e., the spinal cord) to the distal or peripheral parts. In this developmental progression, gross motor skills and competencies precede fine motor skills. This developmental progression continues throughout early childhood, with upper trunk...
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