Chapter 6- Families.docx

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Family Relations and Human Development
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FRHD 1010

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Friday October 19, 2012 FRHD 1010-Human Development Chapter 6- Early Childhood Section 1:Physical Development Growth from age 3 to 6 Bodily Growth The typical 3 year old is 35 inches tall and weighs about 30 pounds; the typical 6- year old is about 45 inches tall and weighs about 45 pounds. By their third birthday y most children have a full set of 20 teeth. These are their primary or baby teeth that will be replaced by 32 permanent teeth in the course of childhood, beginning at about age 6, and lasting until about age 14. Brain Development and “Infantile” Amnesia At age 3 the brain is about 70% of its adult weight, and at age 6 about 90%. The average 6 year olds body weight is less than 30% what it will be in adulthood, so the growth of the brain outpaces the rest of the body. The increase in brain size and weight during early childhood is due to an increase in dendritic connections between neurons and to myelination. Four parts of the brain are especially notable for their myelination during early childhood. In the corpus callosum, the band of neural fibers connecting the right and left hemispheres of the cerebral cortex myelination peaks during early childhood, although it continues at a slower pace through adolescence. The corpus callosum allows for coordination of activity between the two hemispheres, so increased myelination of this area of the brain enhances the speed of functioning throughout the cerebral cortex. Myelination also takes place in early childhood in the cerebellum, a structure at the base of the brain involved in balance and motor movements. Increased myelination enhances connections between the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex. This change underlies the child’s increasing abilities to jump, run, climb, and throw a ball. In the reticular formation, a part of the brain involved in attention, myelination is completed by age 5, which helps explain the increase in attention span that takes place in the course of early childhood. Similarly, myelination in the hippocampus is completed by age 5. The hippocampus is involved in the transfer of information from short term to long-term memory, so the completion of myelination by age 5 may explain why autobiographical memory is limited prior to this age. Myelination in the hippocampus is gradual and most adults can remember some autobiographical events that happened before age 5. The inability to remember anything prior to age 2 is known as infantile amnesia. One recent theory proposed that autobiographical memory before age 2 is limited because the awareness of self becomes stable at about age 2 and serves as a new organizer around which events can be encoded, stored, and retrieved in memory as personal, as having happened “to me”. Encoding memories is promoted by language development, because language allows us to tell ourselves a narrative of events and experiences; consequently, most autobiographical memory is encoded only after language development accelerates at age 2. May also be partly cultural. In a study comparing adults’ autobiographical memories, British and American adults remembered more events prior to age 5 than Chinese adults did, and their earliest memory was 6 months earlier on average. The greater individualism of British and American cultures promotes greater attention to individual experiences and consequently more and earlier autobiographical memories. Health and Safety in Early Childhood Nutrition and Malnutrition The majority of children under age 5 in developing countries experiences iron deficiency, known as anemia. Anemia causes fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sustaining attention, which in turn lead to problems in cognitive and social development. Motor Development Handedness Handedness appears long before early childhood, infact prenatally fetuses show a definite preference for sucking a thumb of their right or left hand, with 90% preferring the right thumb. Section 2: Cognitive Development Theories of Cognitive Development Piaget’s Preoperational Stage of Cognitive Development Early childhood is crucial turning point in children’s cognitive development because this is when thinking becomes representational. During toddlerhood and in early childhood we become representational thinkers. Language requires the ability to represent the world symbolically, through words, and this is when language skills develop most dramatically. Age 2-7 is the preoperational stage, emphasizing that children of this age were not yet able to perform mental operations, that is, cognitive procedures that follow certain logical rules. Conservation Conservation is the principle that amount of a physical substance remains the same even if it s physical appearance changes. Children make two mistakes on conservation tasks, the first centration meaning that young children’s thinking is centered or focused on one noticeable aspect of a cognitive problem to the exclusion of other important aspects. Second, young children lack reversibility, the ability to reverse an action mentally. Egocentrism Egocentrism is the inability to distinguish between your own perspective and another person’s perspective. Animism is the tendency to attribute human thoughts and feeling to inanimate objects and forces. Classification Preoperational children also lack the capacity for classification according to Piaget, meaning they have difficulty understanding objects can be simultaneously part of more than one “class” or group. Preoperational Sub stages: Symbolic Function and Intuitive Thought The symbolic function sub stage is the first sub stage, lasting from 2-4 years of age. This is when the child becomes capable of representational thought and of using symbols to represent the world. Second stage is the intuitive thought sub stage, lasting from 4-7. They become highly curious about the world frequently asking why when other provide them with information. This shows they have begun to think logically, because their questions indicate they are wondering about how one event leads to another. Evaluating Piaget’s Theory Critics focus on two issues: claims that he underestimated children’s cognitive capabilities, and claims that development is more continuous and less stage like than he proposed. Piaget’s stage theory asserts that movement from one stage to another represents a wholesale cognitive shift, a change not just in a specific cognitive skills but in how children thing. Research has generally shown that the ability to perform mental operations changes gradually over the course of childhood. Understanding Thinking: The Development of “Theory of Mind” One popular area of research in recent years is theory of mind; the ability to understand thinking processes in one’s self and others.  At age 2 children begin to refer to mental processes, and by age 3 children know it is possible to image things that are not physically present  Perspective taking ability advances considerably from age 3-6  By age 6 nearly all children solve false-belief tasks easily Cultural Learning in Early Childhood In Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning children learn not through their individual interactions with the environment but through the social process of guided participation, as they interact with a more knowledgeable member of the culture.  Young children have the capacity for learning culturally specific skills  Two factors make cultural learning in developed countries different from cultural learning in traditional cultures: o Children in developed countries are often apart from their families for a substantial part of the day o The activities of adults in a complex economy are less accessible to children’s learning than the activities that children learn through guided participation in traditional cultures Early Childhood Education The Importance of Preschool Quality  Attending preschool is beneficial for young children  Cognitive benefits include higher verbal skills and stronger performance on measures of memory and listening comprehension  Children who attend preschool are generally more independent and socially confident  Children attending preschool have been observed to be less compliant, less respectful towards adults, and more aggressive  Learning should involve exploring and discovering through relatively unstructured, hands-on experiences Preschool as a Cognitive Intervention  One type of preschool experience that focuses intensively on cognitive development is the early intervention program-programs directed at young children who are at risk for later school problems because they are from low income families  The goal is to give the children extra cognitive stimulation in early childhood so that they will have a better opportunity to succeed once they enter school Language Development Advances in Vocabulary and Grammar  Average 3 year old has a vocabulary of about 1,000 words by age
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