The child that has participated in this study is named Thani Hamad. He is four years old and lives with his mother, father, and two siblings, one older and one younger. The names of his parents are Ronan and Arnona. Both of them are educators. The religion that is observed within the family is Islam. Currently, the child does not go to school. However, the parents are already preparing him for this important step. Through the analysis of the theories on early child development and actual observation of the child the paper will discuss the level of development reached by the child and determine the possible prospects regarding his future.
Arnold Resell has developed the maturational theory in which he identified the role of nature and heredity in the development of a child (Berk, 2009). Still, there is a long-lasting debate over the biological and social factors that influence the development of a child. Resell asserts that the environment or nurture should be considered the most important contributing factor in the development of a child (Berk, 2009). Resell asserts that the psychological development of a child depends greatly on the caregivers’ efforts and the environment, whereas the physical one is determined mainly by genetics (Berk, 2009). At the same time, he believed that nature was responsible for the physical characteristics of a child. such as eyes, hair. and moving capabilities. Resell collected normative data on several important aspects related to child development and presented the table of developmental events.
Erik Erikson has suggested a theory on the physical, psychological, and emotional development of a child. He asserts that there are eight basic steps of development. The early development of a child involves only three of them (Berk, 2009). The first one lasts from birth to 18 months. During this stage, a child endures a psychological crisis when they learn to trust or mistrust. Further, a child starts to move and becomes more mobile. To develop trust, children should be surrounded by attentive and supportive care. If they are distressed, they should be calmed by their caregivers (Berk, 2009). The second stage lasts from 18 months to three years and contributes to the development of motor and mental skills of a child. in this period, children are physically independent and are capable of performing certain physical tasks without the help of others. Finally, the third stage of early development refers to the development of initiative and ways of dealing with people. In other words, at this stage children learn how to communicate with the world and the people who surround them. Erikson asserts that it is critical for parents to assess the limitations of a child’s physical abilities in order to help them when needed and to prevent certain kinds of danger (Berk, 2009).
As I observed the child, I have noticed the following. First, he was able to perform a number of different tasks quite quickly. For example, he rolled a ball, jumped over objects, pedaled and steered the bike, and logged roll. When the family was preparing to do for a walk, Thani got dressed without the help of his parents. Yet, he still needed some help with the buttons, though at first, he claimed he was able to perform that task on his own. Additionally, Thani was capable of drawing lines and writing words in an imagined language. Overall, Thani has reached the stage when all his gross and fine motor skills are developed. Thus, the child meets the standards of physical development and no deviances have been identified during the observation.
The theories explaining the cognitive development of children frequently focus on what children presume to know. One of the theories suggested by Jean Piaget has specifically challenged teachers to pay attention to the ways children choose to learn what they actually know. In other words, he stressed the importance of the teachers’ involvement in the development of children and observing their reactions to the world. In his theory, Piaget lists the predictable cognitive development stages (Berk, 2009). There are four of them: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal-operational stages. He considered that cognitive processes differed a lot at each of the stages and explained mental operations occurring during them (Mooney, 2013). In particular, he focused on how a child thinks, understands, perceives the world, and responds to it. Piaget believed that children tend to learn what they do not know yet (Wood, Smith, & Grossniklaus, 2011). The knowledge is acquired in the process of active operations and experiences. Piaget stresses that mere transportation of objects lets a child presume that there is a certain relationship between the objects.
One of the theories of cognitive development has been suggested by Lev Vygotsky. He asserted that culture has a tremendous role in the development of a child. He believed that adults foster children’s cognitive development through their involvement in the challenges and meaningful experiences (Berk, 2009). The theory of Vygotsky is based on six assumptions. In particular, Vygotsky stresses that the complex mental processes of the child begin as a merely social phenomenon and that language and thoughts might be independent during the first years of life (Berk, 2009). Moreover, he asserted that children could perform challenging tasks in case they are assigned to advanced and competent individuals. Finally, he admits that children develop their cognitive competencies when assigned challenging tasks. Overall, he emphasized the role of teachers and caregivers in the cognitive development of a child.
The child that I have observed does not demonstrate any kind of deviations from normal cognitive development. He showed the ability to solve problems when he asked another child to exchange toys that they were both playing with. This also proves that the child has developed communication skills. Additionally, Thani performed the tasks that he was asked to do and showed a complete understanding of the words said to him. While playing with cubes, he was able to classify them by color and size; thus, his logic capabilities are well developed considering his young age. Moreover, it should be stressed that the child was quite engaged with his activities, which lasted more than 14 minutes. Regarding language development, Thani demonstrates certain deviances in the pronunciation of some of the letters. Thus, I recommended the parents to consult with a doctor in order to prevent complications in the future.
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John Bowly has provided one of the theories on the early socio-emotional development of children. He asserts that the early relationship with caregivers and surrounding people actually plays a key role in the development of the social and emotional intelligence of a child (Berk, 2009). The theory is known as attachment theory and it analyzes the impact of early relations on the further development of a person. The scientist distinguished four characteristics of attachment (Pollak et al., 2000). The first one, namely proximity maintenance, refers to the desire to be surrounded by the people that one is attached to (Berk, 2009). The second feature is called safe haven and it relates to the activity of getting back or retiring to the people that offer comfort and safety instead of fear and terror. A secure base, the third characteristic of attachment, provides a base of security from which a child can observe and explore the world. Finally, separation distress occurs in cases when a figure of attachment is absent.
Additionally, Albert Bandura has suggested the theory of Social Learning. He asserted that children learn how to behave while observing the actions of other people, including caregivers, friends, children, and others (Berk, 2009). Contradicting the behavioral theories, Bandura stressed external reinforcement and noted that it was not the only way people learn how to behave within the society (Denham et al., 2003). Such feelings as pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment also contribute to the adoption of certain habits and behaviors of a child.
During the observation stage that lasted for nearly two hours, I have noticed that the child is reliable in the eyes of his parents, at least. The parents asked him to look for his younger brother and Thani tried to follow him wherever he moved. He responds to requests and words of his caregivers and is rather pleasant in interactions with his younger brother. In particular, he was willing to share his toys with the child and was also quite helpful when his brother fell and started crying. When I was sitting in the room, Thani tried to talk with me and exchange some basic phrases regarding the weather and my clothes. The parents might support the development of the emotional intelligence of the child by responding adequately to the emotions of the child and teaching him to live with certain emotions. Additionally, I have noticed that Thani is quite good at handling his own emotions. When confronted with pain, he started to cry for a little, then calmed himself and continued playing with his younger brother.
Reflecting on the development theories as well as on the observational case study, I consider that the child under consideration is well-developed in terms of physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional skills. He does exhibit certain linguistic deviances, which can be easily removed with the help of a professional. Additionally, Thani demonstrates extraordinary empathy and developed communication skills. Another strength of this child refers to his capacity for self-control as well as tendency to be independent while handling his own tasks and problems. Moreover, Thani effectively manages the relationship with the adults and children around him and willingly shares his toys with his playmates. It is possible that in the future he might deal with human-related spheres of activity, such as medicine, education, etc. The motional development of the child may be greatly affected by the parents who are both educators and who possess additional skills and knowledge that positively affects the development of the emotional intelligence of the child. The parents of the child are recommended to develop the linguistic abilities of the child as well as to focus on his motor capabilities in order to ensure a balanced development of the child.