All children develop but this is at different levels. In this section I am going to look at and discuss how four to five year olds develop physically and the language and communication development of four to five year olds. And then in the next section look at the same developments but for older children 8-16 years old. Physical development relates to physical movements. Becoming independent is closely linked to physical development.
Communication and language development relates to the ability to talk, listen to and understand what others are saying and to be able to interpret body language including facial expressions. Also involved within this development is reading and writing skills. Communication and language development is closely linked with cognitive development. There are two main ways in which children develop physically (1) fine motor skills, these are the smaller movements that occur of the hands, wrists, fingers, toes etc. and (2) gross motor skills, these being the larger muscle movements for example running jumping etc.
At age four to five children’s gross motor skills will include aiming, throwing, catching and kicking of a ball, hopping on one foot, walking a fine line, to be able to change direction when running, pedal and climb with confidence. Balancing and co-ordination skills by this age are developing very quickly, a five year old will be able to jump a rope, balance on one foot, maybe be able to ride a bike with no stabilizers, use his/her waist to bend, they will be able to touch their toes without bending their knees, speed and agility is developed, running becomes at a faster speed and they are able to respond quickly to obstacles when running.
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The fine motor skills that four to five year olds will develop are that they will be able to button and unbutton, string beads onto a piece of string, cut with scissors, build a block tower using at least ten blocks, being able to confidently put a twelve piece jigsaw together and hold a pencil/pen not using the clench fist grip.
By five years old the child will be able to write more letters than they previously could, if taught to they will be able to write their own name, the pictures that a 4 to 5 year old draws should contain some recognisable objects, they will by this age of developed enough muscle control to cut more accurately and with precision, they will now be able to dress themselves and use a knife and fork correctly. Self-expression and communication opens up as children begin to develop their language skills.
Although as previously stated children do develop at different paces, most 4-5 year olds are beginning to use language in a much more sophisticated manner than previously and their understanding of language has increased dramatically. •By the time a child reaches the age of 4 years old, the majority of them will be able to speak fluently enough to effectively hold short conversations with adults. By this age their speech will consist of full sentences of four or more words that are correctly strung together. Al though children at 4 may still make mistakes with grammar and struggle to use past tense correctly e. g. I seed it’ instead of ‘I saw it’. At four children will have a large vocabulary including words such as colours, body parts, household items etc. The pronunciation of these words is generally correct at this age. By five, a child’s vocabulary will be increased from that of a 4 year old and will contain between 2000 and 5000 words, 5 year olds will use all these words when communicating and will recognise them also. At 5 years old the child will now have an understanding of jokes and riddles and may even begin to re tell jokes to other people. At this age if asked the child should be able to tell you basic information about themselves i. . full name, their birthday etc. The sentence structure of a 5 year old will be more complex than that of a 4 year old, sentences used will be longer and with fewer grammatically errors. An interest in reading and writing may now develop and by 5 a child may be able to recognize simple and short words and their own name. Vocabulary is about 5000 words and their speech is fluent. •Children should be able to understand more complex instructions, and concepts such as first/last, same/different. •They should be able to understand most types of questions. •Their grammar is usually correct when talking but occasional errors may still occur. They should be able to take turns when talking and be involved with longer conversations. •They should be able to tell you about an event fairly clearly. •Should be able to follow more than one instruction. •They should understand harder questions such as “When? ” •They should be able to describe events in sequence order. •They should be able to define a word when asked e. g. “What is a ball? ” a child will say “You catch it / kick it” •A child's speech can generally be understood •They should be able to understand some implied or suggested information in stories and conversations.
Milestones for children’s development can be found from the EYFS and many other websites, these give charts of what most children should be able to do at certain ages. Please see appendix for an example of a development milestone chart for children. By the time a child reaches the age of 8-12 their fine motor skills become much more refined and this allows for much more intricate work/activities to be done as example knitting. By this age less concentration is needed meaning that children will talk whilst using their hands for fine motor movements.
Gross motor skills are developed further between the ages of 8-12 years old there will be an increase in the child’s co-ordination and perceptual skills thus allowing children of this age to have more concentration on strategies during physical games such as netball, football etc. •The development of language and communication is clearly visible when a child is between 8 and 12 years old, they will have gained a much greater confidence in reading and writing skills, their vocabulary continues to increase and they will now use problem solving and reasoning language. to 12 years - Children will be able to communicate in a clear and fluent manner. •Written communication skills become more refined, although children of this age will still be more able to express themselves verbally and non-verbally than in a written form. •Vocabulary continues to increase, with children questioning, reasoning, chatting and telling jokes. •The rules of grammar are learnt and are being used more. •The language young people use within this age band is often littered with phrases and sayings current to their times. Lev Vygotsky believes that the inexperienced can learn from the experienced, which allows less experienced learners to accomplish more complex tasks. Vygotsky believed that language played a very important part in the development of learning and thinking. He believed language was essential in order to enable the children to think in the abstract. One of Vygotskys main points within his theory was that cognitive development is driven by social interaction. He put great emphasis on the fact that he believed culture played an important role in shaping the cognitive development of children.
Vygotsky talks about the ZPD which stands for Zones of proximal development and this is what he uses to describe the difference of what a person can achieve/do without help so unaided and what he/she can do with help and guidance. Vygotskys theory emphasises the fundamental importance and the role of social interaction. According to Vygotsky (1978) much important learning occurs through social interaction that the child is involved in with a more skilled person, teacher, parent/ carer etc. He believed that language was an accelerator to thinking/understanding.
His theory states that language is developed from social interactions, for the purpose of communication and that later on in a child’s development language ability becomes internalized as thought and inner speech. Vygotsky believed that thought and thinking is a result of language. The Nature vs. Nurture Theory has been heavily debated by theorists for years. At the center of the debate is whether or not an individual's personality is more influenced by his/ her genetic structure (nature) or the environment in which he or she grows up (nurture).
The Nature versus Nurture theory states that physical development depends on the environment a child is raised in, genetic makeup is inherited from a child’s parents and is set at conception, these determine things such as height, eye colour etc, this is nature’s influence. A child’s environment and experiences influence health and activity levels for that individual which contributes to the physical development of a child. The child’s environment is the framework and basis in which he/she physically interacts with the world.
Some scientists believe that a way a person acts and behaves is according to genetic predispositions this is where the ‘nature’ part of the theory comes in. Other scientists believe that an individual’s behaviour is taught therefore this is where the ‘nurture’ part of the theory comes in. Some theorists think that we behave as we do according to genetic predispositions or even "animal instincts. " This is known as the "nature" theory of human behaviour. Other theorists believe that we think and behave in certain ways because we are taught to do so.
This is known as the "nurture" theory of human behaviour. There are many different observations techniques. In my 3 observations I used (1) A written narrative, this is a written account of what you actually see and hear, (2) A check list, this is a table with activities and then you tick to say whether the child you are observing can do them, can’t do them or is working towards achieving them and lastly (3) A time sample this is similar to a written narrative but you observe the child at regular intervals and record the time and what the child is doing and saying.
It is vital that all information gathered from an observation is kept confidential. This can be achieved by ensuring no names are disclosed including child’s name and setting information. Using coding is a good working practice for child care providers and it is essential to ensure information is on a need to know basis only, as an example when writing up an observation TC is used for target child, or FC for focus child, this means the child’s name is not disclosed therefore complying with confidentiality.
The Data Protection Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament and it defines the law on the processing of personal information. It states that information gathered must not be disclosed without permission/consent, this act therefore supports the safeguarding of all children as it ensures that confidentiality occurs within the setting. The observations are kept safely so that they are not on show and only the teachers would have access to them, the parents/carers do however have the right to see them if they wish too. The observations are kept on a need to know basis.
Diversity; the diversity of something is the fact that it contains many very different elements, a range of things that are very different from each other. The concept of Diversity brings together acceptance and respect and an understanding that every individual is unique. It is paramount that diversity exists within a childcare setting. All children come from a variety of backgrounds and family structures, and this should always be respected by a childcare practitioner. This could include things such as a child’s culture, language, beliefs and their care needs.
For children to learn and be happy they need to have love, affection, stimulation and physical care but this however can be at different levels thus meaning a childcare provider must establish a positive attitude to all children in their care and their families. To ensure diversity occurs as a childcare practitioner you should ensure that you find out the background of all children as an example find out their likes and dislikes. It is essential you are always observant so that you are aware and can identify if and when a child in your care needs something.
You should make sure activities that are available reflect a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. Part of your daily practice should involve talking to all children and their parents/carers. Ensuring that you make it visible that all children and their families are accepted by you a as practitioner. It is crucial that you do not have any prejudices or show any ill feeling towards any of the children in your care or their families at any time. Inclusion; this involves making a person or thing part of a group or collection, to include everyone/everything.
Inclusive practice is essential when working with children as a childcare provider. To ensure this occurs as a practitioner you must make sure that every child feels part of the group and is included in whatever you do e. g. activities that are offered should cater for all the needs of all the children within the group. As a childcare provider you must ensure that you show how you will meet the needs of individual children and their families in a way that will make them feel comfortable and not that they are being excluded or classed as a nuisance.
Inclusive practices can be achieved by making sure that childcare practitioners are welcoming to everyone regardless of their background. It is vital that you show all children in your care that you like them, this will be achieved by getting down to their level , gaining eye contact when you’re talking to them or the child is talking to you, always ensure a child has your full attention and that you actually listen to what they have to say.
A practitioner should always encourage all children in their care to participate during activities within the setting but you must not force a child to do anything against their wishes. Another way that as a childcare provider you could ensure inclusive practice is to be sure that all parents/carers receive the same information this may mean adapting it to fit their needs for example if their primary language isn’t English you could have the information translated into their first language.
Evaluation of the obseravtions that I carried out are as follows, TC child is mainly achieving beyond the norms for his age according to the EYFS. According to the EYFS the learning goals for 5 year olds are to *’Move with control and co-ordination’, TC is already achieving this as illustrated by my tick chart (see appendix), TC could do all but one of the activities, and is working towards the star jumps, sometimes being able to do them and sometimes not. The EYFS also states that 5 year olds should be able to * ‘Jump off an object and land appropriately. The time sample observation from an outdoor play session shows that TC jumped off a pirate ship in the playground and fell over, this may be because he was just enjoying his outdoor playtime and was caught up in the moment of playing ‘pirates’. TC is also achieving most the norms for his age within language and communication he can read all his key words and also write them from memory this is clearly shown in my written narrative observation, the EYFS says that by this age children should be able to *’use talk to gain attention’ TC showed and discussed with the teacher the writing he had done.
The EFYS also says that at this age children should ‘take account of what others say’ I would say that from my observations TC needs some extra support with understanding how his actions could make other people feel in the observation I noted he preferred to play alone within the free play session rather than with other children and when another child ask to play with him he responded ‘no’, this may be because TC didn’t need any help doing the puzzle but further observations could help to identify if there any problems with his sharing skills.
From the observations I did TC is at the right stage with his language development. To improve his physical development I would suggest a physical education lesson which includes practicing star jumps and ensuring when jumping off of objects you land safely. The purpose of observations is so as a childcare practitioner you are able to see where children are in their development, to observe what stages they are at, and to see if they are at the correct stages for their age.
From the findings of the observations a practitioner can evaluate the evidence and then plan ways to extend the child’s learning and development. The planning cycle is key to ensure that all children within the setting can achieve and reach their full potential. By this I mean PLAN ; the planning of the observation to take place, DO ; carry out the observation and REVIEW ; assess and evaluate results and findings from the observation, and plan ways to improve (see appendix).
For example if you plan an observation and the child isn’t always achieving what they should be, then as a practitioner you could plan to re do the activity enabling and ensuring as a practitioner the children in your care will achieve and reach the goals set. From observations you will be able to assess individual children’s needs and implement ways to improve and promote their development. As an example if a child lacks fine motor skills you could plan an activity involving cutting and gluing thus providing the child with experiences and activities to help them improve and develop their fine motor skills.
Child observations are vital within a childcare setting to promote all children’s development. It is essential that confidentiality is adhered to when carrying out all observations. It is important that as a childcare practitioner you seek parents/carers permission, this is so the parents are aware of what is going on and so that they know what you are observing on their child. If permission wasn’t requested this could result in the parent being unhappy and could result in the child being at risk.
The information gathered from an observation should be correctly stored in a suitable place where only service professional have access to it. As a childcare practitioner the child’s safety and welfare is paramount, therefore confidentiality is of upmost importance to ensure this occurs. There are strict policies and procedures within all settings and these support confidentiality and ensure it occurs. Objectivity in observations is very important if you as the observer are not objective then the observation will be bias.
If the observer is not objective this could result in untrue observations being recorded, observers could develop an opinion about what they think the results should be. To ensure that reliable results are recorded during observations you must be objective, as a childcare practitioner you can’t be prejudice and must not take into account ethnic background etc. Therefore objectivity leads to reliable results and results that you would be able to compare to other results.
Objectivity has to occur as not one person can observe all children, you need to be objective to be able to compare results fairly, or conclude what milestones the child being observed has reached. As a practitioner you have to carry out observations and assessments. There are many implications that a childcare provider must consider within their working practice. One of these limitations is weather the observation has validity. A practitioner must focus on if the achievements and findings from the observation are a true indicator and that the learning outcomes that were intended were stuck to.
A practitioner must think about and consider how reliable their observation results are, there could many reasons why the findings are not reliable for example the child being observed may be ill or having an off day this would result in the observation having to be carried out again at a later date. When recording observations a practitioner must consider the best observation technique to use and ensure no pre-assumptions, bias, or personal opinions are bought into it, making sure as a practitioner you only record what you actually see and not what you think you see or what you think the child can achieve.
To be able to observe children Legislation states you must seek parents’ permission to do so, it is therefore essential that excellent parent/teacher relations are built and maintained. Having good relationships with parents/carers means that the parent will feel free to come and disclose information to you which may result in you as the practitioner not carrying out a planned observation but re-scheduling it ensuring results are as reliable as they can be.
For example a parent/carer may come in and say to the teacher that the family pet had died and child A is very upset, this would obviously impact on a child’s behaviour and if an observation was to still be carried out the results would not be reliable. Sometimes the practitioner may need to seek advice from other service professionals and they would need to ensure a good working partnership which would in turn enable the child to reach their best possible learning outcomes, e. g. speech therapist, a translator etc.
When observing within the setting this could be disrupted to the rest of the class and could have an impact on the results of the observation for example you may need it to be quiet and this may not always be possible. As a childcare provider you need to ensure all other staff members are aware of what you are doing, so that when you are doing an observation they don’t interrupt etc. Some activities may have to be changed or adjusted to fit the aims of the observation and this could cause disruption or be confusing so you would have to do the activity more than once to ensure realistic ecordings of the observation. Vygotskys theory can be and is applied to working practice today. He believed that relationships are key to learning; this can be seen within a setting by the fact that children do well and achieve if there is mutual trust and a good teacher/child relationship. This can be supported in that as a childcare provider you should have respect for all children in your care with no prejudices or pre assumptions etc. Vygotsky also stated that language was one of the most important tools in a child’s development.
Part of the daily routine within a childcare setting should involve the practitioner talking to all children, this results in ideas that are being discussed being developed and language is used to think. His theory also discusses that children can develop further. Therefore observations are important in working out the next steps and building on the child’s current levels. According to Vygotsky adults extend children’s cognitive development through guidance and teaching, and this is clearly visible in settings today, the practitioner teaches and guides children in their care ensuring they reach their full potential. Through others we become ourselves. ”- Lev S. Vgotsky. Also, Vygotsky is relevant to instructional concepts such as "scaffolding" and "apprenticeship", in which a teacher/tutor or a more advanced peer helps to structure or arrange a task so that a less advanced person/peer can work on it successfully. Vygotsky's theories also lead current day practice into the current interest in collaborative learning, which suggests that group members should have different levels of ability so more advanced peers can help less advanced members be successful within their zone of proximal development.
Another theory that has had an impact on practices today is that of John Bowlby. He looked at and studied ‘attachment’, his 1952 report lead to huge changes with how children are treated in hospitals and institutions. A great deal of emphasis was put onto the importance of the mother and child relationship, Bowlby believed that when attachment behaviours are nurtured by the primary care giver the child feels secure and positive to explore. As this relationship grows and becomes stronger the child will feel happy to leave their parent/carer.
Due to the extensive researched carried out by Bowlby we are now able to understand the influence of having key relationships. This is visible in settings today as there are key workers in place who have a selected few number of children to work with. Bowlby did extensive research into the concept of attachment, describing it as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194). He believed that everyones early attachment styles are established in childhood through the infant/primary caregiver relationship.
In addition to this, Bowlby believed that attachment aids in survival. "The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals is a basic component of human nature" (Bowlby, 1988, page 3). To conclude as a practitioner observations are vital in ensuring all children in your care reach their full potential and development further. There are many different theories on childhood development and the research carried out in these has had a massive impact on practice today and is visible within settings.
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