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Child Development

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The first years of a child’s life are very important; the physical, cognitive and emotional development interact together for the overall growth of the child. Each part is different and happens at different times for different children. During this time children go from helpless infants to independent thinkers. Family members and the environment which the child is in both have major influences on how they think, act and being to think about themselves.

During the first year physical development is set in high gear. Physical development is, “the growth of body and brain including patterns of change in sensory capabilities, motor skills and health” (Papalia, Olds & Feldman, 2008, p. ). An infant triples in size and doubles in weight by the first birthday. As soon as the second month they are beginning to socially smile when they recognize a familiar face, but you can not expect to much interaction. Around the sixth month the child will be a little more active and in control of their body. They will start sitting up and noticing they have hands they can grab things with. Each child is different and learning steps might take more or less time for each. Around month twelve a child could be crawling and possibly even starting to walk.

Touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight are all functional before birth and grow stronger as the child grows older. An infant can hear inside the womb which makes the mothers voice a familiar and comforting one, “early recognition of voices and language heard in the womb may lay the foundation for the relationship with the mother, which is critical to early survival”(p.159). Sight is the last to be developed out of all mainly because there is not much to look at inside a fetus. Even though it is the least developed it is the quickest to full development after birth. By month eight, the child has 20/20 vision.

Basic motor development is also learned in the first couple years. Head control, hand control and movement are the strongest. Around the third month a child will start to realize their appendages and focus on them to see what they can do. Once they figure it out is when they try and put them into use, which is the grabbing things and pushing themselves up to self movement. This is about the six to ten month range when they really put their mind to work and try to crawl. Hand-eye coordination is apparent around this time after haptic perception is learned, “haptic perception, the ability to acquire information by handling objects rather then just looking at them” (p.162). The more children are exposed to and toys are given to them they quicker they will learn. When a child is in an environment where learning is acknowledged they tend to pick up on things faster. It is not until age three to six do you really see a significant advancement in them using their motor skills to their fullest. Running, jumping and physically playing contribute to their motor skills and help develop their learning what their body is capable of doing. Handedness and artistic development are also learned around this age, drawing shapes they learn to make pictures of their house, their dog or yard.

Creating pictures of things that are familiar to them shows an increase in a child’s cognitive development, this is, “the change in stability in mental activities; learning, memory, language, thinking, moral reasoning and creativity” (p. ). The main focus during this development is goal directed behavior and object permanence. These are the highlights of what is learned during the first couple years. Information processing is present and growing as well.

There are different ideas about infant memory, Freud for example claims that memories from infancy are pushed far back and stored causing emotional trouble later on in life. Other believe that few have the capability of memory at this point. Not until memory processing starts and is in order do they start remembering. Age two is when we start to see generic memory, which is just activities that are repetitive they catch onto and recognize. Episodic memory is when a child can take those memories and builds a mental picture that makes it lasts long term. If feelings are involved or a child was part of the event it lasts a lot longer in their memory because it means something to them, this is called autobiographical memory. Parents can help their child remember certain things more clearly by talking about it with them.

The development of mental pictures promotes object permanence which is knowing something is there even though they can not see it. Senses and memory are working together here to know there was something there to see it in their mind and physically move and look for the object.

Babies learn about their environment by exploring it, that is why during these first couple years they do things, follow their instincts and involuntary reactions to get what they want or need. They think what they want to accomplish, how to and then do it. The more they experience the more they learn and can adapt new ideas into their thinking. Cognitive theory explains how a child processes new information and how they can manipulate their basic knowledge to the constant flow of new information, “Cognitive perspective focuses on thought process and the behavior that reflects those processes” (p. 33). There were two theories on this perspective one was Piaget who believed children learn things in stages. He became intrigued by children when they answer wrong and the thought process that got them there, so he continued to ask them questions to observe where they went next. He suggested, “Cognitive development begins with an inborn ability to adapt to the environment” (p. 33). The stages he thought to believe children went through were organizational, schemes, adaptation, and equilibration. Equilibration was the last because he thought finding equilibrium promotes the most growth in cognitive development.

Next was Lev Vygotsky’s who thought like Piaget but believe in the sociocultural theory, “Stresses children’s active engagements with the environment” (p. 34) and Piaget thought it was all individual. He believed a child learned from their social experiences and their learning needed to be someone structured before they could grasp it. He mentions scaffolding which is when others give a child help doing something before they are able to do it by themselves. It helps them learn and do it easier then just trying and trying over and over again.

Language is learned through hearing sounds and patterns of sounds to recognize language. When a child first is hearing language the words do not have



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