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It is essential to understand children development, as this will enable you to recognize physical, emotional, cognitive, educational and social growth of a child from birth till early childhood. Child development can be defined as psychological, emotional and biological changes in human beings that occur between birth and adolescence period. These changes are greatly influenced by different events that occur in a person’s life mainly when he/she is in a prenatal life.
The changes also come as a result of genetic factors. This means that development in children is mainly influenced by environmental factors, as well as genetic factors attained from learning. Human brain is “made” in a special way that enables it to easily adapt to any surrounding, and this is what encompasses development in children. For many years, research has been conducted on child development. This led to formulation of many theories that attempt to illustrate all the aspects of child development ranging from social, emotional, educational to cognitive growths. There are many areas which compass child development and these include: language, cognition, motor, perception, physical growth and social-emotional development.
Areas of development
Motor development is one of the areas of development in children within their first two years of life. This is a period when a child learns how to walk. Their physical body changes to accommodate movement patterns from largely reflexive patterns to highly skilled patterns. During early life of a child motor development, speed is usually high. This is because there is alteration in reflexes of the infants during their first year (Maslow1987).
However, motor development always slows down later on, as the child begins to mature up. Motor development has a pattern that is predictable just like a physical growth. Development of torso goes to extremities and head to foot is always predicted. This is because it is always natural that body movement begins at the end of the head before the lower parts, including the feet and the hands. There is a sequential motor development in human beings starting from childhood to adolescent period.
For example, at the age of 6-8 months, locomotion takes place whereby a child begins to creep in fours, then pull himself to stand while holding tight the objects, then they walk while holding the parents hands and finally walk on their own. At the age of two or one and half years, children normally continue with their sequential growth where they learn how to run, gallop, skip, hop and jump and even stand on one foot. It is, however, important to note that motor development ability mainly depends on the weight and organization of the body of a child. However, practice, instructions, and observations also greatly affect motor development in children after infancy.
Language development is another area of development in children within their early years of life. Language development is mainly the ability of a child to use and understand a particular language. It can be said that a child has attained language development when he/she is able to identify sounds or phonology, semantics, pragmatics and syntax (Wood1998). A child can begin to understand someone’s speech at the age of 6 months.
However, at the age of one year, a child can produce words, express language, and move rapidly. At the age of two, a child can explode vocabularies. They are able to do so because they have the ability or tendency of repeating other people’s words, especially two year old children. They can easily combine words when they are two and half years. All this is contributed to functioning of the brain. Human brain is programmed in a way that it can easily recognize speech, differentiate and discriminate particular sounds of speech (Berger, 2009). This enables young children to gather and put words together to form meaningful words and sentences.
The social environment in which the child is raised greatly determines particular languages which the child is able to master. A child’s accent, dialects and size of vocabulary is also determined by the social environment. A child who spends more hours where people talk is able to develop fast in language. This means that genes alone cannot enable a child to develop language. The degree of brain development in children always differs from that of adult; children are first when it comes to learning, especially languages. This is because during early life of human beings, the brain is still more impressionable. This is why a child’s brain can easily capture things which facilitate faster learning.
Cognitive development is the capacity of young infants to learn, recognize and identify information and be able to solve them. Infants are able to process and learn things faster. Their memory also lasts longer which means that they can contain information for a long period of time. Cognitive development in children is a result of biological and genetic mechanisms (Berger, 2009). However, some people believe that cognitive development is a result of brain functions and changes. Children are able to actively build their own knowledge on how to understand the world and everything around them and that depends on cognitive development which also affects their social lives.
The difference that exists in cognitive development in children who come from different ethnic groups is a result of environmental factors (Wood,1998). This is why we find that young boys and girls have different preferences and possess different skills. Adequate gender model is important for children, as this will enable them to grow up knowing what is expected of them by looking up to the parents. This will help shape their identity as an individual in the society. Poverty always deprive children of the ability to have a fulfilling social, psychological, and cognitive life (Wood,1998).
Berger, K. (2009). The developing person: Through childhood and adolescence (8th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Maslow, A. (1987). Developmental Psychology: From Infancy to Adulthood. NSW: Pearson Education Australia.
Wood, D. (1998). How Children Think and Learn (2nd edition). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.