Children tend to contextualize different environments and create meaning to series of thought patterns and meaning to different events they interact with. The term meaning-making revolves around creativity in interpretation of the events by a child as an active agent, who is influenced by the cultural and social interaction with different objects and people (Curtis & Carter, 2013). Therefore, this analytical treatise attempts to explicitly observe a child’s play patterns, interests, and interactions with family/community members, in an attempt to learn more about how a minor makes sense of his or her world.
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Specifically, the treatise will attempt to review the ways I observed a three years old female child construct her meaning of life, role of community or family members in the meaning-making. The paper also examines the role played by things such as toys, books, and computer in the child’s meaning-making. Besides, the paper reviews the impact of popular culture or digital technology in the child’s world. Finally, the paper will relate the above aspects to existing literature and course readings by providing visual evidence in the form of drawings, pictures, and other relevant artifacts.
Ways I Observed a Child Construct His or Her Meaning of Life
Through surveillance of children in the school and home environment, I observed the child under case study construct the meaning of her life through engagement in different activities such as painting, drawing, singings, and playing in the school environment. In the home environment, the case study child was active in communication through gestures and touching everything within her vicinity.
In the school environment, I observed the child create a sketch of her family with the male in the picture holding the female by hand. In another sketch, the child sketched the picture of her mother holding a pot in what appeared like a kitchen setting. On inquiry, the child informed me that the picture is that of her mother who loves cooking and cleaning the house. Within the school setting, I also observed the case study child run and sing in cycle with a group of three other children and they were using hand gestures and tonal variation in what I was told by her teacher is a game.
In this game, the case study child was put in the center of the circle and her play mates would pronounce random words depicting different types of objects in the different settings. The case study child was expected to accurately tell others the location of these objects. For instance, when a playmate shouted orange tree, the case study child was expected to respond by stating that the location was orchard within the shortest time possible or she would be replaced. The cycle continued for different drawings, pictures, and colors
In the home setting, the case study child was very active. The child was very close to her mother and was attempting to do everything she was doing. When the mother was cleaning the house, the child also picked her toy doll and was copying her. The child was asking so many questions about objects surrounding her environment. For instance, she engaged her mother in unrestricted conversation on what they would eat for lunch, when her father would be back, where I had come from, and the name of everything she could visualize.
Role of Family Members and Community in Child’s Meaning-Making
From the surveillance in the home environment, I observed that the mother was a very active player in the child’s learning, since she was expected to respond to all questions asked by creating simple response that could resonate with the minor. The mother was also an observation point from where the child was learning on how to do different things in the home environment. In addition, the mother provided different toys and clean environment for the child to play in. In the school environment, the teacher and other children were part and parcel of the child’s interaction since they provided the ideal environment for free expression. For instance, the playmates were the center of the case study child’s mental and physical interaction by use of words and gestures during the ‘name game’.
Role of Toys, Computers, and Books in the Child’s Meaning-Making
The case study child was very active in playing with her toys in the home environment and actually nicknamed some of her dolls after her school friends such as Janet, Jane, and Eucharist. The child appeared to interact with her toys as though they were her school friends. Apparently, the child had learned to appreciate the emotional attachment to her friends through her toys. In the school environment, the child used her painting book to express her perception of different objects such as family members, plants, and colors. The child was using the panting book to create a mirage of her ideal life and reflection of the physical environment.
How Popular Culture or Digital Technology Play a Role in the Child’s World
The child preferred toys that had sound and could make facial gestures that related to the different musical compositions installed in the toys. Whenever the mother answered a phone call in her mobile phone, the child imitated her by re-acting the conversation in her toy mobile. In the school environment, the child was very keen on observing her teacher use the class computer and would attempt to behave in the similar way when handling her mini-computer. Interestingly, the child was heavily influenced by the digital culture at home and at school, despite her little understanding of how these digital objects work.
Relating the Observations to Course Readings and Discussions
From the course readings, it is apparent that the physical environment affects a child’s cognitive learning. Childhood development, as influenced by external environment, plays an integral role in children growth, development, and relationship with others (Curtis & Carter, 2013). It is such relationships that define educational and development capabilities among toddlers. Similarly, family structures and cultures have a bearing on child development (Fraser, 2012).
Family relationships, parenting styles, cultural, and social values manipulate early childhood development (Fleer, 2004). From the observations of different cultures, parenting styles, beliefs, and values influence the scope of early childhood development. Understanding these facets puts early childhood development into perspective, thus improving chances of successful development (Hughes, 2007).
From the observations, childhood education creates a link in a child’s cognitive, psychological, and physical processes within the confines of care and support services from the surroundings (Curtis & Carter, 2013). Families, communities, and nations need to invest funds in structures that improve such links to ensure successful child development and growth. Similarly, inadequacies in cognitive skills among pre-school toddlers compromise such their ability and motivation to learn upon entry into schools (Fraser, 2012). Therefore, early childhood preparation and development creates a foundation for successful educational future among children.
Child development requires more than classrooms and centers for learning. Recent research shows that the set of cognitive, non-cognitive skills and knowledge children acquire at pre-school remain much relevant in their lifetime outcomes (Curtis & Carter, 2013).
High-quality pre-school programs with adequate space and good supervision of children, quality books, puzzles, and blocks for motor skill development play integral roles in children development and growth (Curtis & Carter, 2013). These act as bases for educational success. Similarly, affectionate and respectful caregivers, routines with individual and group engagements, and regular engagements with parents help in improving children association with society members, hence refining their social skills for future benefits as observed in the case study (Zevenbergen, 2007).
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Pre-school arts and cultural activities strengthen parent-child bonds. This in turn helps engage families in their children’s knowledge acquisition through provision of positive goal for common experience and communication, as was observed in the case study (Curtis & Carter, 2013). Family reading, singing, role-playing, traditional tale sharing, and story-telling offer the best avenue for experience sharing, which are vital for toddler development as observed in the case study (Curtis & Carter, 2013).
Similarly, artistic design, development, and memory sharing via photographs help pre-school children to understand their family setting, background, and previous experiences, thus influencing their bearing and perspective on family social structures and cultures. All these programs help in nurturing children to learn and appreciate existing arts and cultural structures within their family settings by encouraging positive cultural upbringing (Siegel, 2006).
Curtis, D., & Carter, M. (2013). Observing how children seek power, drama, and adventure. In M. Carter (Ed.), The Art of Awareness (pp. 123-143). Minnesota, MN: Redleaf Press.
Fleer, M. (2004). The cultural construction of family involvement in early childhood education: Some indigenous Australian perspectives. The Australian Educational Research, 31(3), 51-68.
Fraser, S. (2012). Reggio Emilia in the Classroom/the Image of the Child. In S. Fraser (Ed.), Authentic Childhood: Experiencing Reggio Emilia in the Classroom (3rd. ed.). (pp. 1-48). Toronto, ON: Nelson Thompson Learning.
Hughes, E. (2007). Linking past to present to create an image of the child. Theory Into Practice, 46(1), 48-56.
Siegel, M. (2006). Rereading the signs: Multimodal transformations in the field of literacy education. Language Arts, 84(1), 65-77.
Zevenbergen, R. (2007). Tetubby tales: Popular culture in the early years language and literacy curriculum. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 1(2), 119-133.