Early Childhood development is a vital process that begins from birth to five years of age. Areas of early childhood development such as cognitive, emotional, physical, social and fine motor skills provide essential developmental benefits to young children, in all future aspects of their lives. The aim of the observation report is to attain a practical understanding of early childhood development and its direct correlation to young children. The observation report, will observe and compare areas of development through the use of literature and child developmental screening checklist. This will directly relate to social, language, artistic and emotional development as well as conservation tasks, a theory by Jean Piaget (Garhart Mooney,2013).
In this report the young child is referred to as “Finn”, to protect his identity and privacy. Finn is a young Caucasian male child and was 4 years old at the time of filming. Finn resided with both of his parents and currently had no bothers or sisters. Finn was observed through a video recording which was filmed by his father on December 18th 2011. The video recording runs for twelve minutes and forty two seconds and is an observation report conducted by a young male peer, with set activities and questions for Finn to complete.
The observation checklist method discussed by (Fawcett & Watson,2016) was used to asses Finn, through video analysis of an informal interaction with a young male peer and Finn’s father in December 2011. The opportunity to conduct a naturalistic observation method mentioned by (Fawcett & Watson,2016) with Finn was super limited due to the method of non live interaction and the prepared activities being utilised in the video. The checklist had limitations as well discussed by Fawcett & Watson (2016) it gave no quality/reasons for the behaviour that was selected and was often trivial because the observation relied on the questions compiled into the checklist ( See Appendix A). Although in this case the child developmental screening checklist ( See Appendix A), was an appropriate option as it provided a time efficient and simple process to record Finns development while watching the video. The checklist allowed for the noting of behaviours as soon as they occurred and produced an easy to read record (Fawcett & Watson,2016)of the observation. The benefit to observing Finn on video using the checklist instead of live interaction and a naturalistic method, meant the ability to replay and pause the observation.
Finn seems to have good social skills. At the start of video Finn appears a very confident, quiet spoken young boy with the young male peer asking him to line up M&M’s. Finn is very happy and willing to participate from the very start and as they proceed to line up and count the M&M’s, Finn seems to get much louder with excitement from enjoying the activity. Finn also responds to the questions he is asked within context and is very eager to answer right away without delay. Finn seems very happy to be interacting with a male peer a little older, he is not shy or quiet at all during the M&M activity.Finn interacted with the young male peer very well and was comfortable in the setting and followed all instructions from an older peer through out the observation with no real present difficulty. Over all Finn seems socially happy in his observed environment.
Finns language is very understandable and clear. His communication with the young male peer was effortless and easy for the peer to understand. Finn could understand direct instructions and follow almost all of them correctly. Finn was using appropriate loudness for the setting and has a wide range of words he uses to communicate. When counting M&M’s Finn counted from 1-7 very clearly and precise and counted relatively quick to 7. Finn also can form sentences as well as give detailed explanations as to why, this is evident when Finn was completing the water in the glass activity. This activity involved the young male peer to pour glasses of water all of the same volume into different shaped glasses to see if Finn would differentiate by volume or size of the cup. Finn was able to ask for different coloured texter’s while drawing a picture of his family and also explain through words who each person was. During the question time part Finn was able to answer scenario type questions with more than 5 word sentences. Overall Finns language skills seem to be developing strongly.
Fine Motor Skills
When Finn was asked to draw a picture of his family, Finn drew more then 3 and 6 part people. Finn also used different colours for each person/pet and was elaborate on feature such as hair, nose, ears etc, Finn exclaimed “Mummy has a ponytail because she is a girl”. Finn also explained who he was drawing, their names and described what they looked like as he was completing the picture. When holding the texter Finn had a pretty reasonable grip at the end of the texter, which is good as it will give him better control when drawing. Finn also drew circles and lines with ease and was familiar with joining them together. Finn also had no trouble making a straight line with the M&M’s. Overall Finn seems to be developing confident drawing skills within his fine motor skill set.
Finn was asked to line up pieces of paper from smallest to biggest.The young male peer tried to explain it a few times but Finn seemed to being having trouble grasping the explanation he was receiving. Eventually his father explained “like a staircase” and he kind of grasped the concept but not enough to complete the task, when prompted if he would like to try again he simply replied “no”. Finn seems to handle disappointment well as he didn’t get angry he couldn’t complete the task. Finn definitely is more relaxed and happy towards the end of the observation compared to the beginning, sharing his thoughts and feelings while drawing. Overall Finn appears as a very emotionally happy child.
Finns cognitive development was observed through the M&M’s, water in the glasses and the scenario type questions activities. During each of the three activities you could observe Finn thinking and problem solving. During the M&M’s he was questioned if his or the young male peers M&M line was longer. Finn guessed wrong but you could see him trying to make an assumption on which was the bigger line. With the water in the glass and the scenario type questions Finn was using problem solving to think of explanations as to why or how to answer the questions to the best of his knowledge. Finn seems to enjoy problem solving and deep analytical thinking.
According to Sharma & Cockerill (2007) 4-5 year old children’s development involves having growing understanding of rules of which Finn displayed while undertaking the observation activities. (p. 77) Finn also had supervision from his father while interacting with the young male peer as well as support with social understanding which is normal for children of 4-5 years of age according to Sharma & Cockerill’s (2007) within table 6 key stages of social development. (p. 77) Finn is in the 4 year old range for co-operative (creation of fantasy scenarios) and narrative play (negotiation with peers and appreciation of rules) according to table 7 cognitive and social sequences of play by Sharma & Cockerill (2007). During Finns observation he participated in scenario based questions which showed he is capable of co-operative play, he was also using narrative play to complete the observation by negotiating to buy M&M’s in the first activity and also via listening to the instructions given for each activity and following it through. Overall Finns social development seems to be within the developmental aspects for a child of his age according to Children’s Developmental Progress Social Behaviour and Play by Sharma & Cockerill. (2007)
Buckley (2003) states that by the age of 4.5 years a child’s pronunciation closely resembles that of an adult. Finn’s pronunciation was clear, easily understood and not misinterpreted which is within the expectations of Buckley. (2003) Finn held good conversation at time which was initiated by the young male peer during the activities apparently this is because children’s abilities to hold conversation progress (Buckley, 2003) and at around the age of 4 they develop control over devices, such as repeating ‘and . . .’ to indicate they have not yet finished speaking (Pan and Snow 1999; Buckley, 2003). Buckley (2003) mentions at four years of age stories grow in size, have a main character, item or scene. Children will portray the series of events in novel from beginning , middle and ending with detailed information,Finn portrayed these aspects when he was drawing the picture of his family. Overall Finn’s language seems within developmental range according to children’s communication skills by Buckley. (2003)
Fine Motor Skills
Finns fine motor skills assessed via the observation showed Finn’s drawing skills and enthusiasm is very normal as suggested by Dinham & Chalk (2017) the Arts subjects represent powerful ways for young children to ‘be in their world’ – experiencing, investigating, expressing and sharing. According to Dinham & Chalk (2017) Finn is developing practices and understandings of the world and everyday life through his drawing of his family. Through drawing Finn’s fine motor skills improve but it also enables to learn about perceptions, emotions and thoughts. (Gardner, 1980; Malchiodi, 1988; Steele, 1998). Creative, learning in the Arts such as drawing which Finn thoroughly enjoys, provides children with ‘room to move’ through opportunities to make decisions, solutions to problems, arrive at individual interpretations, express their own perceptions, ideas and feelings, and direct their learning (Adair Keys, 2014; Dinham & Chalk,2017 ). As suggested by Dinham & Chalk, Finn should continue drawing to develop his fine motor skills but essentially to help express his own self as children lead through learning with a sense of personal authority.
Wasserman & Zambo (2013) suggest emotional development is built into the architecture of the human brain and as young children like Finn develop, early emotional experiences become embedded in the architecture of their brains (Fogel et al., 2009 ). The interrelated development of emotions and cognition relies on the emergence, maturation, and interconnection of complex neural circuits in multiple areas of the brain according to Wasserman & Zambo(2013). These functions are intimately involved in the development of problem-solving skills of which Finn would have used when he did the water in the glass activity and the scenario based questions. (Dinstein et al., 2008 ). Finn has obviously used emotional experiences to gain better understanding of problem solving and reasoning with doubts, as he held his emotions together when he struggled at times through out the observation especially during the arrangement of the smallest to biggest paper test. Overall Finn seems emotionally stable through out the observation suggesting he is developing well according to Wasserman & Zambo’s explanations of emotional development.
Piagets stages of cognitive development shown in figure 4.1 (Garhart, 2013) show the preoperational stage of 2-7 years of age. Preoperational stage means that a child is gaining knowledge from first hand experiences of life. Garhart (2013) mentions telling children something is less effective than finding a way to help them think their own way through a problem, this was definitely present when observing Finn. Through Garhart (2013) Piagets theory of conservation tasks explains that due to inexperience, most young children would initially be surprised that a beach ball is lighter than a baseball. Unable to separate height from age, preoperational children will insist that the tallest person is the oldest.(p. 56) Using Piaget’s conservation task theory, the young male peer conducted a water glasses test. The young male peer filled glasses of different shape and size all with the same volume amounts, to see if Finn would determine via volume or size/shape. Finn is well with in his developmental aspects as Finn chose via shape/size over volume as this was his best perception estimation he could make given his age.
In conclusion compared with the literature, Finn seems to be on a reasonable path of social, language, fine motor skills-artistic, emotional and cognitive development. During the observation all of the areas discussed about Finn’s development seemed to be at preforming level for a 4 year old. Finn showed great interest in actively participating with adults, the questions as well as the props. Finn also showed a keen interest in art especially drawing and was very narrative of his drawing in good relative detail. Finn spoke with clear language that was easily interpreted by the adults and also had no difficulty in communicating with adults or people older than him self. Fin handled his emotions well through out the observation even when faced with harder activities he stayed focused and used problem solving and analysis to make an informed decision. Overall the observation has provided an outcome with satisfactory results in relation to early childhood development and its direct relation to young children.
- Fawcett, M., & Watson, Debbie. (2016). Learning through child observation (Third ed.).
- Sharma, A., & Cockerill, H. (2007). From birth to five years : Children’s developmental progress.
- Buckley, B., & Buckley, B. (2003). Children’s communication skills : From birth to five years.
- Dinham, J., & Chalk, B. (2017). It’s arts play : Young children belonging, being and becoming through the arts.
- Wasserman, L., & Zambo, Debby. (2013). Early Childhood and Neuroscience – Links to Development and Learning (1st ed. 2013. ed., Educating the Young Child, Advances in Theory and Research, Implications for Practice, 7)
- Garhart, M. C. (2013). Theories of childhood, second edition : An introduction to dewey, montessori, erikson, piaget & vygotsky.