Child Development: Introduction & Themes:
- What is development?
o Cradle to the grave
o Systematic continuities and changes that occur in an individual between conception and
In an orderly fashion
i.e. reading you learn phonetics then how to pronounce words
o Change and development is consistent, always occurring
o Enduring learning/development still happens. It’s not affected by mood changes, etc.
o Orderly each step defines the next step
o Cumulative each change includes everything before it and more
o Directional skills always refined. Your skills don’t normally digress.
Central Themes of Development
- What are the causes of developmental change?
- In other words, the “nature/nurture” debate
o Biology vs. environment
o The contribution of either of these.
o Which one makes a bigger contribution to child development? The way you were
raised? Or the genetics and biology you were born with?
development is simply maturation- a genetic program of growth that unfolds as a
child gets older
Environmental events shape the course of a child’s development.
your school, your neighbourhood, what surrounded you in your childhood
o Development is an interaction where nature and nurture work together
Genetic of schizophrenia
1% of population is likely
The Active Child
- In infancy and early childhood, children hape their own develppment through their selection
of what to pay attention to, including:
o Rehearsing what she learnt before and what she knew. Children are interested in
their own learning
o Pretend/imaginative play
o Acting out their days and things that they know. Processing and trying to learn.
Creating understanding through play.
o development. They’re active participants in their life. The Active/Passive issue
- are children active contributors to their own development or are they passive recipients of
o Active theories
Children make sense of their world and determine their own learning
o Passive theories
The environment shapes the behavior of the child, who is a passive reactor
- Doesn’t give child enough ownership of their own development.
- Sitting back and letting the environment determine development.
- Crying infant all the time.
o Actively trying to upset parent? No.
o Child is actively contributing towards development even in a negative way.
- Continuous development: age-related changes occur gradually
o Children elevate to more advanced levels of development gradually.
o I.e. development of tree
o Quantitative changes
o Slow incline
o Age-related changes include occasional large shifts so that children of different ages
seem qualitatively different
o i.e. butterfly
o dramatic shifts.
o Each stage is qualitatively different. Being a cocoon is very different than being a
o Piaget belief of very distinct stages of development. Abrupt shifts in cognitive
- So which is right?
- Development is both continuous (gradual) and discontinuous (stage-like):
o It is fundamentally continuous but it is interspersed with transitions that may
appear to be sudden or abrupt.
o Learning how to walk seems abrupt, but actually starts from when they’re on their
back and they’re kicking their legs, etc.
o Boy’s height from birth to age 18 gradually
o How tall you grew each year, happened in abrupt shifts. Looking in terms of the
amount you grew each year. Change in growth shifts
The “Holistic Development” Theme - How inter-related are different aspects of development?
o Physical (biological)
How much taller did you get. Changes in physical growth
o Cognitive (intelligence. How you think about the world, learning, IQ)
Thoughts, intelligence, language
(emotions, interactions with people, regulate emotions, understanding
- All these things happen together
- Very interdependent
o Impact each other
The Sociocultural Context
- Physical, social, cultural, economic, and historical circumstances that make up any child’s
- Contexts of development differ within and between cultures
o Sleeping arrangements: some cultures sleep with your child until they’re very old.
What culture you grew up in has to do a lot with who you are today.
o Neighbourhoods also shape who you are today.
More adversity, more things to overcome
poverty, resources, daycare etc.
The Plasticity Issue
- to what degree and under what conditions is development open to change and
- Are there sensitive or critical periods in development?
- Brain tumours while a child, or while an adult. Brain compensates for the area when you’re
a child. Enhancing brain capacity and compensating in some way.
- As an adult: therapy
- Critical period
o A time during development when it is crucial for a particular ability/behavior to
o If you don’t learn it during that period, you won’t learn it at all.
- Sensitive period
o A time during development which it is optimal for the development of a particular
o Similar ability/behavior can develop after that time, but usually under more intense
o Optimal time to learn language, but you will still learn something. It will happen.
Optimal but can be compensated for.
o Maybe won’t happen as ideally and as smoothly as someone who has done it from
birth, there is a sensitive period. o Not as well developed
- Children’s genes, their treatment by other people, their subjective reactiosn to other
people’s treatment of them, and their choice of environments all contribute to differences
among children, even those within the same family.
- just as we are physically different, we are different at how we approach different aspects of
Chronology of development
- (see table)
- Adolescence happened as a chapter of development only after the industrial revolution and