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In their research study titled “Teaching the Immigrant Child: Application of Child Development Theories”, Onchwari and colleagues seeks to use case examples to demonstrate the multiplicity of challenges facing immigrant children and how various child development theories can be used to deal with these challenges. Specifically, the researchers are interested in analyzing various theoretical dispositions of outstanding child development theorists in a spirited attempt aimed at understanding the divergent needs of immigrant children in a classroom setting.
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The study is informed by the need to come up with proactive solutions to the challenges facing immigrant children, who are undoubtedly the fastest growing segment in the United States child population. It is believed that an estimated one million immigrants enter the United States each year, with many of these immigrants being at their childbearing age in addition to exhibiting exceptionally high fertility rates (Onchwari, Onchwari & Keengwe, 2008).
In one of the case studies discussed in the article, the researchers demonstrate a scenario where the kindergarten teacher has in his class an African child who is often in conflict with other children due to his show-offs, particularly during the time he dresses in his African outfit. Despite the fact that other children in the school frequently complains about this behavior, and in spite of the fact that the teacher has taken time to talk to the African child about this behavior, the child does not stop this undesirable behavior, in large part because it is not viewed as overly negative in the African culture (Onchwari et al, 2008).
Sigmund Freud’s theory revolves around five stages of psychosocial development, “…namely: oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital” (Singelman & Rider, 2009, p. 37). In the phallic stage (3-6 years), Freud explained that the libido is centered on the genitals, and preschoolers develop initiative by formulating and carrying out independent and bold plans. This Freudian assertion therefore demonstrates that the discussed African child, who is a preschooler in a kindergarten, behaves that way in an attempt to find an independent way to satisfy his own needs for recognition and acceptance within the school setting.
In the analyzed research study, another case is mentioned involving a second grader immigrant who just jumps in when he wants to play with the other children, a behavior that the other native children finds not only disturbing, but rude and inappropriate. But in the immigrant child’s perspective, he is only expressing his urge to be part of the play. However, upon close examination, it is revealed that this particular child lost recognition and friendship when he came to America, and therefore he continually exhibits this form of behavior (Onchwari et al, 2008).
Using Freud’s stages of psychosexual development, it can therefore be revealed that something must have gone wrong during the child’s oral stage (0-1 years), and the libido – which is focused on the mouth as a source of pleasure – has been fixated to the extent that the child will continue to exhibit some form of arrested development, particularly with regard to the development of trustful relationships with his peers (Singelman & Rider, 2009). It is only by developing trustful relationships that friendship and recognition are reinforced.
Away from issues of the research study, it is a well known fact that researchers must take extra caution when making some ethical considerations in child development research. Children, by their very nature, are not independent entities and researchers must therefore seek for approval and informed consent from the care givers (parents and guardians) of the children before subjecting them to any form of development research (Pia & Allison, 2008). The right to withdraw from the research process must be guaranteed to the caregivers on behalf of the children, as well as the right to confidentiality of information received from the minors.
Above all, the research methods and data collection tools must be designed in a way that is understandable to the minors, and caregivers must, as a matter of principle, have access to these methodologies to erase any doubts of foul play or inappropriate exposure of children to harmful research methodologies (Pia & Allison, 2008).
Onchwari, G., Onchwari, J., & Keengwe, J. (2008). Teaching the immigrant child: Application of child development theories. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(3), 267-273.
Pia, C., & Allison, J. (2008). Research with children: Perspectives and Practices (2nd ed.). New York: Jessica Kingsley.
Singelman, C.K., & Rider, E.A. (2009). Life-span human development. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.