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Early Childhood Development- Observations from Birth to Age 5

Early Childhood Development- Observations from Birth to Age 5

Part I: Physical, Cognitive, and Social-emotional Domains

Infants

By the time infants attain the age of four months, they have attained a 3-inch growth rate and about 4.5 pounds since their birth weight and height. During the first year of life, their head’s circumference grows by .25 to .5 inches every month. The infants weigh twice their birth weight at six months. This growth is achieved through an average weight gain of .5 to 1 ounce daily. From the age of six months, the growth rate slows down and tends to be more gradual. At one year, the infants’ weight triples as their height increases by about 10 inches. Teething begins to occur from 4 to 18 months (about 1 and a half years) (NorthShore University Health System).

Cognition is the process that entails thoughts, perception, and rationale. As a child’s cognition develops, they can interact with other people within their environment better. At the age of one to 2 months, a child can turn their head and begin to develop an interest in the people and objects around them. At three months of age, the baby can expect familiar things and show reactions to them. By the fourth month, the child’s vision has improved. They can connect the main senses together to create an item or person’s identity through sensory integration. At six to nine months, the child can recognize the familiar sounds, sights, and touches. Through object permanence, the children can comprehend absence and form memories. From nine months to one year, the child observes those within their environment and begins to explore. At this age, the child’s personality, emotions, and curiosity become more apparent (NorthShore University Health System).

An infant’s emotional and social development begins as early as after birth. At the age of one month, the infant tends to express their feelings better using alert and widened eyes. The bond between the child and their guardian or parent intensifies. At two months, the child has a ‘social smile’ and can make eye contact while moving their arms. Between two and four months, the child is attached to the caregivers. When caregivers respond to the child’s needs, the development of trust is initiated. By the time they reach the age of six months, the children become more social and use their facial expressions to show joy or anger. At six to nine months, the same facial expressions can be used to express favor for certain caregivers and anxiety when they are absent. Due to separation anxiety, children cry or turn away when they are separated from their caregivers. Stranger anxiety also leads to uneasiness when they are around strangers. The two types of anxiety tend to diminish as the child approaches their first birthday. By one year of age, the children express more affection and preference for caregivers (NorthShore University Health System). They also gain more independence as exploration increases due to crawling and walking.

Toddlers

Toddlers’ social and emotional growth is a continuation of their infant stages. Once they reach one year, exploration through movement heightens and is reinforced through support from their caregivers. Children begin to request items by pointing and eye contact with their caregivers. This is known as proto-imperative pointing. At 16 months of age, the children utilize proto-declarative strategies, which involve pointing and gazing at objects simultaneously to show interest. At 18 months, the child brings the object to their caregiver. Beyond one year, the child shows empathy and becomes self-conscious. They tend to react to somebody else’s feelings. For instance, they could cry if they see another person crying or show joy when recognized or applauded for a certain task.

At the age of 18 to 30 months, the child’s process of autonomy or individuation begins. The child gains a deep desire to control the occurrences around them and their activities. While they have stronger with their caregivers, the desire to be independent tends to be greater. They prefer to do things on their own. Between two to five years, the children start to create friendships. They also start to comprehend right from wrong and expect their parents to articulate rules and limits as they test them. When they do something wrong, they tend to feel guilty (Healthwise).

Physically, the rate of growth slows down significantly. At the age of two to five years, the children tend to develop more coordination and strength. By two years of age, the children have grown in fifteen inches since birth. The strength increase is demonstrating physical activities such as kicking balls or waking up and down the stairs (NorthShore University Health System.).

Cognitive development among toddlers advances because they begin to comprehend simple time concepts and requests. Basic symbolism such as nodding one’s head to mean yes or no becomes clearer. They also play ‘pretend’ using their toys. They can also identify shapes and colors. The children at this age can find objects in the appropriate places when asked. They also realize a caregiver’s absence and the possibility of return (Healthwise).

Preschoolers

The social and emotional development of preschoolers is critical for their social well-being. Better emotional health leads to meaningful relationships with other people in their environments. Preschoolers can express their feelings as well as others’ feelings. They demonstrate an improved ability to comprehend and react to their colleagues’ emotions. They can also control their bodies. For instance, they take turns speaking when conversing with their friends. Their ability to match emotions, facial expressions, and words (Guardian).

The cognitive development from 3 to 5 years is more visible through actions. Children can sort things by color, size, or shape. They also learn actively and become more inquisitive. Their understanding of time develops as they gain knowledge of past and present occurrences. Their ability to pay attention for longer also increases significantly. Their verbal expressions improve by the time they join the school, which prepares them for the schooling phase.

At three years of age, the child can skip rope, jump, and run around. They can alternate steps when climbing stairs with less struggle. They ride bicycles or tricycles. They can also draw straight lines, walk on their toes, and hold a pencil with greater control. At four to five years, children easily perform somersaults, jump up and down, brush their teeth, comb their hair, wash their hands, dress, and can even catch a bouncing ball in their hands (Guardian). As observed, the preschooler is more active physically than the younger ones.

Part II: Development Theories

Infants

According to Piaget, exploration is a critical aspect of knowledge construction among children. The psychologist highlights four stages of cognitive development that depend on the child’s age. The infants are in the sensorimotor stage. In this stage, children’s cognition operates through the manipulation of the world around them using the main senses. The children develop permanence, and deferred imitation (Cherry). This stage corresponds with the infants’ cognitive development because they rely on their five senses significantly.

According to Bowlby’s theory of attachment, children are born with an innate need to create an attachment to others. This attachment is important for the children’s access to care as well as protection. It is normal for infants to strive to remain near their caregivers using crying as a signal for need. This theory agrees with the barely developed social and emotional state of infants who clearly need intense care and closeness from their caregivers. The infants cry when their favorite caregivers leave due to separation anxiety. Based on Gesell’s theory of maturational -development, infants grow at a fast rate, which then slows down as they grow older (Gesell Program in Early Childhood).

Toddlers

The toddlers fall within Piaget’s preoperational stage. Piaget highlights that children at this stage may fail to think logically but can use symbols such as words and images. The child can also pretend and take part in such play (Cherry). Egocentrism also develops because the child starts to think about themselves and the impact that their actions may have on them. This explanation matches the toddlers’ likelihood to test limits even when they are aware of the rules.

Based on Bowlby’s attachment theory, caregivers are important because they make children feel safe. As earlier explained, toddlers express a lack of joy when their caregivers leave their presence. Despite having developed permanence, the toddlers still protest when they learn that their caregivers are about to leave. However, their protest is less than that demonstrated by infants.

Gesell’s maturational-developmental theory states that children undergo a sequence of predictable stages of physical growth. Both internal and external factors play a role in their development. Since growth begins in the womb, it continues after birth. The sequence is the same for all children, but the pace is different for all (Gesell Program in Early Childhood). The spiral sequence shows that children start of at a higher pace, which slows down as they grow older. This theory agrees with the toddlers’ diminished physical growth. The toddlers tend to gain more strength and coordination because the rate of growth slows down significantly.

Preschoolers

Preschoolers fall within the preoperational stage in Piaget’s theory. The self-expression among preschoolers matches Piaget’s theory because they tend to use words as their language develops (Cherry). This ability to use words and other symbols for self-expression plays a critical role in further learning in the schooling phase. For instance, preschoolers can verbalize words as they hear them from others and express their needs appropriately. However, they do not have a logical thinking process and still need guidance.

In addition, preschoolers’ social and emotional development is addressed through Bowlby’s attachment theory (Cherry). Their attachment to caregivers is significant. They tend to exhibit similar separation anxiety behaviors as toddlers. For instance, when taken to school on the first day, it is common to see them protesting as their parents leave the premises. The stranger anxiety is demonstrated due to the unfamiliar environment and people within it. Physically, their growth is highly diminished, as Gesell’s maturational-developmental theory highlights (Cherry). Just like the toddlers, the preschoolers’ growth rate is significantly slow.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. Child Development Theories and Examples. 2020.

Gesell Program in Early Childhood. Gesell Theory. 2021. <https://www.gesell-yale.org/pages/gesell-theory>.

Guardian. Early Childhood Physical Health and Cognitive Development Guide. 2021. <https://www.guardian.edu.au/blog/child-development/early-childhood-physical-health-and-cognitive-development-guide/>.

Healthwise. Milestones for 2-Year-Olds. 2021. <https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/ue5313>.

NorthShore University Health System. Infant Milestones (0-1 Year). 2021. <https://www.northshore.org/pediatrics/ages-and-milestones/infant/>.

NorthShore University Health System. Toddler ( 2 – 4 years). 2021. <https://www.northshore.org/pediatrics/ages-and-milestones/toddler–2—4-years/#PhysicalDevelopment>.

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Question 


Objective: To observe the development of young children from birth through age 5. This project will consist of an extensive observation of 3 children: an infant, a toddler, and a preschooler.

Early Childhood Development- Observations from Birth to Age 5

Early Childhood Development- Observations from Birth to Age 5

Part I:

For each of the 3 children, you will describe their development in the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional domains. The textbooks should be used as a guide for specific aspects to observe. For instance, when observing an infant, you might describe the physical characteristics of the child including height, weight, body control as well as small motor control. You may also talk to the parents and ask them questions about development to include in your report. You should have at least one page for each developmental domain. The descriptions should be comprehensive and detailed.

Part II:

Choose one theory of development discussed in the beginning of class. For each child, write a page summary about each child’s development in terms of the theory. For instance, according to Piaget, at what stage of development would the child be? What led you to this conclusion?

What aspect about the child’s behaviors made this evident? Provide examples.

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