Early childhood Early Childhood begins when the relative dependency of babyhood is over, which extends from two to six years, is labeled by parents as the problem, the troublesome or the toy age; by educators as the preschool age; and by psychologists as the pregang, the exploratory, or the questioning age.
Characteristics of early childhood Just as certain characteristics of babyhood make it a distinctive period in the life span, so certain characteristics of early childhood set it apart from other periods. These characteristics are reflected in the names that parents, educators, and psychologists commonly apply to this period.
Names used by parents Most parents consider early childhood as a problem age or a troublesome age. While babyhood presents problems for parents, most of these center around the baby’s physical care. With the dawn of childhood, behavior problems become more frequent and more troublesome than the physical-care problems of babyhood.
-- The reason that behavior problems dominate the early childhood years is that young children are developing distinctive personalities and demanding an independence which in most cases, they are incapable of handling successfully. In addition, they have frequent temper tantrums, they are often bothered by bad dreams at night and irrational fears during the day, and they suffer from jealousies. Furthermore, few young children are as cute as babies, which also makes them lee appealing.
-- Parents often refer to early childhood as the toy age because young children spend much of their waking time playing with toys. -- Studies of children’s play have revealed that toy play reaches its peak during the early childhood year and then begins to decrease when children reach the school age. As a result, whether young children are playing alone or with pears, toys are an important element of their play activities.
Names used by educators Educators refer to the early childhood years as the preschool age to distinguish it from the time when children are considered old enough, both physically and mentally, to cope with the work they will be expected to do when they begin their formal schooling.
Names used by psychologists Psychologists use a number of different names to describe the outstanding characteristics of the psychological development of children during the early years of childhood. On the most commonly applied names is the pregang age, the time when children are learning the foundations of social behavior as a preparation for the more highly organized social life they will be required to adjust to when they enter first grade.
Many psychologists refer to early childhood as the exploratory age, a label which implies that children want to know what their environment is, how it works, how it feels, and how they can be a part of it. one common way of exploring in early childhood is by asking questions: thus this period is often referred to as the questioning age.
However, most children show more creativity in their play during early childhood than at any other time in their lives. For that reason, psychologists also regard it as the creative age.
Developmental tasks of early childhood When babyhood end, all normal babies have learned to walk, though with varying degrees of proficiency; have learned to take solid foods; and have achieved a reasonable degree of physiological stability. The major task of learning to control the elimination of body wastes has been almost completed and will be fully mastered within another year or two.
Developmental tasks of early childhood One of the most important and, for many young children, one of the most difficult of the developmental tasks of early childhood, is learning to relate emotionally to parents, siblings, and other people.
Physical Development • Body changes The average child grows 2.5 inches in height and gains between 5 to 7 pounds a year during early childhood. Many become quite picky eaters. One reason this occurs is that many adults overfeed children, not realizing that young children are naturally quite thin.
Physical Development - Culture, income, and family customs all affect children’s growth. Worldwide, an increasing number of children are eating too much, risking heart disease and diabetes. - Many young children consume too much sugar and too little calcium and other nutrients. One consequence is poor oral health. Children need to brush their teeth and visit the dentist years before the permanent teeth erupt.
Brain Development The brain continues to grow in early childhood, reaching 75 percent of its adult weight at age 2 and 90 percent by age 5. Myelination is substantial during early childhood, speeding messages from one part of the brain to another. The corpus callosum becomes thinker and functions much better. The prefrontal cortex, known as the executive of the brain, is strengthened as well.
Brain Development Brain changes enable more reflective, coordinated thoughts and memory; better planning and quicker responses. Left/right specialization is apparent in the brain as well as in the body, although the entire brain and the entire body work together for most skills.
Improved motor skills Gross motor skills continue to develop, clumsy 2-year-olds become 6-year-olds who move their bodies well, • Improved motor skills guided by their culture. play is their main activity, and it helps them practice the skills needed for formal education. Fine motor skills are difficult to master during early childhood. Young children enjoy expressing themselves artistically, developing their body and finger control as well as self-expression.
Nutrition Energy needs increase as children go through the childhood years. And its requirements vary according to basal metabolism, rate of growth, and level of activity.
There are routines in eating behavior during 3, 4, 5 years old children should follow. Children’s diets should include well-balanced proportions of fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Q:What are some good strategies for helping young children develop their cognitive competencies?
Cognitive development - Piaget stressed the egocentric and illogical aspects of thought during the play years. He called this stage preoperational thought because young children often cannot yet use logical operations to think about their observations and experiences. • Jean Piaget • 1896 - 1980
Young children according to Piaget, sometimes focus on only one thing (centration) and see things only from their own viewpoint (egocentrism), remainning stuck on appearances and current reality. They may believe that living spirits reside in inanimate objects, a belief called animism
Vygotskystressed the social aspects of childhood cognition, noting that children learn by participating in various experiences, guided by more knowledgeable adults or peers. That guidance assists learning within the zone of proximal development, which encompasses the knowledge and skills that the child has the potential to learn Lev Vygotsky 1896 - 1934
According to Vygotsky, the best teachers use various hints, guidelines, and other tools to provide the child with a scaffold for new learning. Languageis a bridge that provides social mediation between the knowledge that the child already has and the learning that the society hopes to impart. For Vygossky, words are a tool for learning.
Information processing The child’s attention increases dramatically in early childhood, and significant improvement in short-term memory also occurs. Information-processing psychologists believe a task’s components should be analyzed. Young children are curious about the nature of the human mind and develop ideas about what it is like.
Children’s theories Children develop theories, especially to explain the purpose of life and their role in it. Among these is theory of mind—an understanding of what others may be thinking. Notable advances in theory of mind occur at around age 4. theory of mind is partly the result of brain maturation, but culture and experiences also have an impact.
Language Language develops rapidly during early childhood, a sensitive period but not a critical one for language learning. Vocabulary increases dramatically, with thousand of words added between ages 2 and 6. in addition, basic grammar is mastered
Many children learn to speak more than one language, gaining cognitive as well as social advantages. Ideally, children become balanced bilinguals, equally proficient in two languages, by age 6.
Socioemotional Development • Emotional development Learning to regulate and control emotions is crucial during early childhood. Emotional regulation is made possible by maturation of the brain, particularly of the prefrontal cortex, as well as by experiences with parents and peers.
Socioemotional Development • In Erikson’s psychosocial theory, the crisis of initiative versus guilt occurs during early childhood. Children normally feel pride, sometimes mixed with feelings of guilt.Shame is also evident, particularly in some cultures.
Both externalizing and internalizing problems indicate impaired self-control. Some emotional problems that indicate psychopathology are first evident during these years. Boys more often manifest externalizing behaviors and girls, internalizing behaviors. For both sexes, brain maturation and the quality of early caregiving affect emotional control.
Play All young children enjoy playing with other children of the same sex (preferably), alone, or with parents.
Rough-and-tumble play teaches many social skills and occurs everywhere, especially among boy who have space to run and chase. Sociodramatic play allows development of emotions and roles within a safe setting. Both sexes engage in dramatic play, with girls preferring more domestic, less violent themes.
Parenting styles Three classic styles of parenting have been identified: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. Generally children are more successful and happy when their parents express warmth and set guidelines.
- A fourth style of parenting, uninvolved is always harmful. The particulars of parenting reflect the culture as well as the temperament of the child. - Children are prime consumers of many kinds of media, usually for several hours a day and often without their parents’ involvement. Content is crucial. The problems that arise from the media include increased aggression and less creative play.
Parenting styles Authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9GAjT46-aQ
Moral development The sense of self and the social awareness of the young child become the foundation for morality. This is evident in both prosocial and antisocial behavior. There are four types of aggression: instrumental, reactive, relational, and bullying. Instrumental aggression is used by all the children but becomes less common with age. Unprovoked injury (bullying) is considered wrong by children as well as by adults.
Parents’ choice of punishment can have long-term consequences. Physical punishment may teach lessons that parents do not want their children to learn. Other forms of punishment have long-term consequences as well.
Becoming boys and girls - Even 2-year-olds correctly use sex-specific labels. Young children become aware of gender differences in clothes, toys, future careers, and playmates. - Freud emphasized that children are attracted to the opposite sex parent and eventually seek to identify, or align themselves, with the same sex parent. Behaviorists hold that gender-related behaviors are learned through reinforcement and punishment and social modeling.
Cognitive theories note that simplistic preoperational thinking leads to gender schema and there stereotypes. Sociocultrual theorists point to the many male-female distinctions that are apparent in every society and are taught to children. - Evolutionary theory contends that sex and gender differences are crucial for the survival and reproduction of the species.