Chapter 8: Physical and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood
Children’s body growth and change: • Average growth is 2.5 inches and 5-7 pounds a year during early childhood (less for girls than for boys). • Growth variation due to genetics, nutrition, prenatal problems, experiences, and SES. • Factors that affect child’s growth: • Growth hormone deficiency. • Mother smoked during pregnancy. • Brain growth in early childhood is not as rapid as in infancy—changes occur in neurons.
Changes in child’s brain structure: • Increase in number and size of nerve endings. • Increased myelination: better focus, coordination. • Increased dopamine concentration and most rapid growth in frontal lobe during ages 3 to 6 years. • Rapid growth spurt periods and drastic tissue loss of unneeded cells – brain is always “reorganizing”. • More research is needed to chart connections between cognitive development, brain structure, and information processing.
The Prefrontal Cortex This portion of the brain (bright blue) shows extensive development from 3 to 6 years of age and is believed to play important roles in attention and working memory Prefrontal cortex ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.1
Gross motor development in children: • Simple run-and-jump movements enjoyed at age 3. • Child is more adventurous at age 4. • Child is self-assured taking hair-raising risks at age 5. • Fine motor skills in children: • Picks up tiniest objects at age 3 but still a little clumsy. • Has trouble building high towers with blocks at age 4. • Has better eye, hand, and body coordination at age 5. • Right-handedness is dominant in all cultures and appears to be genetically influenced.
Development of Gross Motor Skills in Early Childhood (Listed in approximate order of difficulty in each period) ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.2
Development of Fine Motor Skills in Early Childhood (Listed in approximate order of difficulty in each period) ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.3
About 95% of right-handed people primarily process speech in left hemisphere of brain. • Left-handers are: • More likely to have reading problems • More common in musicians, mathematicians, architects, and artists.
Nutrition in children: • What is eaten affects skeletal growth, body shape, and susceptibility to disease. • Average preschooler needs 1,700 calories per day. • Energy needs of individual children of same age, sex, and size may vary. • Calories from fat should be limited.
Child obesity is: • A serious problem in the United States. • Linked to diabetes, low levels of fitness, low self-esteem, and iron deficiency anemia. • Leading causes of death in U.S. children are: • Accidents. • Cancer. • Birth defects. • Heart disease. • Of concern for children’s safety today: exposure to tobacco smoke and its link to respiratory problems & vitamin C deficiency.
Poor health of children from low SES is of concern. • About 11 million children are malnourished and at higher risk for diseases and lead poisoning. • UNICEF’s annual reports of “under-5 mortality rate”: • Nutritional health and knowledge of mothers. • Levels of immunization, dehydration, income. • Availability of health services, clean water. • Overall safety of environment and sanitation.
A preschooler’s world is creative, free, and fanciful: • Piaget’s preoperational stage: ages 2–7 years: • Child cannot think without acting. • Operations allow child to mentally rehearse future physical acts, but thinking is still flawed. • First substage of preoperational thought: • Symbolic functions include scribbled drawings representing real objects. • Child at age 2–4, still very egocentric and animistic.
“More eyes” “Eyes” “Nose” “Pelican” “Seal” (b) (a) The Symbolic Drawings of Young Children (a) 3½-year-old’s drawing of “a pelican kissing a seal” compared with (b) 11-year-old’s drawing which is more realistic and less inventive ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.7
Second substage of preoperational thought: • Intuitive thought: child uses primitive reasoning but is still centric in thought, lacks conservation abilities. • Preoperational child’s inability to mentally reverse actions applies to numbers, length, volume, and area. • Some claim Piaget’s views were not completely correct. • Between ages 3-5, children exhaust adults with “why” questions – the questions give clues to the child’s mental development and reflect intellectual curiosity.
B C A A B C Piaget’s Conservation Task Child is asked if (A) and (C) have the same amount of liquid. The preoperational child says “no” and will point to (C) as having more liquid than (A). Two identical beakers shown to child, and then experimenter pours liquid from (B) into (C) ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.8
Some Dimensions of Conservation: Number, Matter, and Length ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.9
Vygotsky’s theory: • Zone of proximal development (ZPD): • Lower limit can be achieved by child alone. • Upper limit can be achieved by child’s skills with adult guidance and instruction. • Other limits can’t be achieved yet. • Scaffolding involves changing level of support during a teaching session—close, direct instruction is reduced. • Language is used for social communication, solving tasks, and monitoring one’s own behavior.
Vygotsky claims that: • Language and thought develop independently of each other and then merge. • Child uses language to communicate with others before she/he can focus on inward thoughts. • Transition to use of internal speech occurs between ages 3 and 7 and is followed by action without speaking aloud. • Socially competent children use private speech more. • Piaget: self-talk is egocentric and reflects immaturity. • Research finds private speech is used more in difficult tasks; users are more attentive and perform better.
Vygotsky’s recommended teaching strategies: • Effectively assess child’s ZPD. • Use the child’s ZPD in teaching. • Used more-skilled peers as tutors. • Monitor child and encourage private speech. • Place instruction in meaningful context. • Transform the classroom with Vygotskian ideas. • Using Vygotsky’s ideas, children from collaborative schools were more cooperative.
Comparison of Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s Theories Sociocultural Context Constructivism Stages Key processes Role of language View on education Implications for teacher ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.11
A child’s ability to pay attention changes significantly during preschool years. • Memory: • Short-term: one can retain information up to 30 seconds with no rehearsal—memory span increases (in digits) with age but varies between individuals. • Speed and efficiency of memory process improves with age and experience. • Young children can remember a great amount of information when given the right cues and prompts.
The Planfulness of Attention J J (a) (b) In 3 pairs of houses, all windows were identical. In 3 pairs of houses, the windows were different. By filming the reflection in children’s eyes, one could determine what they looked at, how long they looked, and the sequence of their eye movements. Children under 6 were different from older children in this study. ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.12
8 7 6 5 4 Digit Span 3 2 1 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Adult Age (years) Developmental Changes in Memory Span In one study, memory span increased from 3 digits at age 2, to 5 digits at age 7, to 7 digits at age 12. ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.13
How accurate are young children’s long-term memories? • There are age differences in children’s susceptibility to suggestion. • There are individual differences in susceptibility. • Interviewing techniques can produce substantial distortions in children’s reports about highly salient events.
The young child’s theory of mind: • Age 2–3: children begin to understand three mental states—perceptions, desires, emotions. • Age 4–5: children understand “false beliefs,” and that people can be mistaken. • Only beyond preschool years do children have a deepening appreciation of the mind. • In middle and late childhood, children understand beliefs are “interpretive.”
Developmental Changes in False-Belief Performance 100 90 80 70 60 Percentage Correct 50 40 30 20 10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Age (months) ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Figure 8.15
As children develop through early childhood, they: • Grasp the rules of grammar at a rapid rate. • Make all sounds of their language. • Use most parts of speech correctly. • Overgeneralize the rules. • Learn the rules of syntax. • Talk about things that are not present. • Use different styles of speech to suit the situation.
Between 18 months and 6 years of age, young children learn about one new word every hour. • By the time they enter first grade, children know about 14,000 words. • They learn how to make plurals (showing a use of word tools and rules), even when words are made-up (Berko’s study).
Understanding Morphological Rules—Berko’s Study ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Variations in early childhood education: • Child-centered kindergarten: focus on whole child. • Montessori approach: teacher is facilitator, child has freedom with emphasis on peer interaction. • Reggio Emilia approach: mostly for special children in Italy, learning by investigation and exploration of topics. • Educational practices should be developmentally appropriate, taking into consideration the uniqueness of the child.
Project Head Start to help the disadvantaged: • Federally funded, created in 1965. • Not all programs in the U.S. are equal. • Seeks to intervene where there is a lack of enriched early childhood educational experiences. • Issues in early childhood education: • What should the curriculum be? • Does preschool matter? • When is a child ready for school?
Comparison of Japanese and U.S. Parents’ Views on the Purpose of Preschool 70 60 Percentage of parents who say that the purpose of preschool is to give children experience in being a member of a group 50 40 30 20 10 0 U.S. Japan Figure 8.18 ©2008 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Home Schooling – Pro’s • Control over input • Control over peers • More individualized • Bible – centered • More efficient
Home Schooling – Con’s • Socialization • Resources • Meeting parent’s emotional needs, justification for not having a “real job” • Energy levels needed to be consistent • Too much time together, enmeshed • “In the world, not of the world”