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Chapter 7

Chapter 7.docx

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University of Ottawa
Gustavo Gottret

Chapter 7: Physical and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood Physical Development Body Growth -the average chid grows about 6.4 cm in height and gains between 2.2 and 3.2 kg a year during early childhood -the percentage of increase in height and weight decreases with each additional year -children lose their top-heavy look and body fat decreases steadily -girls have more fatty tissue while boys have more muscle tissue -growth patterns vary individually -much of the variation is due to heredity -environmental experiences are involved to some extent -the 2 most important contributors to height differences are ethnic origin and nutrition -e.g.: urban, middle-socioeconomic status and firstborn children were taller than rural, lower-socioeconomic status and later-born children -children with growth problems can be treated with hormones directed at the pituitary gland The Brain Brain Size and Growth -the brain does not grow as rapidly in early childhood compared to as in infancy -the brain of a 5-year old is nearly the size it will be when the child reaches adulthood -the head and brain advances more rapidly than the growth curve for height and weight -some of the brain's increase in size is due to an increase in myelination where nerve cells are covered and insulated with a layer of fat cells; this has the effect of increasing the speed of information travelling through the nervous system -myelination is important in the maturation of some abilities in children -the overall size of the brain does not increase from age 3 to 15; rather, the local patterns within the brain change -from 3 to 6, the most rapid growth occurs in the frontal lobe and is involved in planning and organizing new actions and in maintaining attention to tasks -from age 6 to puberty, the most growth takes place in the temporal and parietal lobes, especially areas that play major roles in language and spatial relations The Brain and Cognitive Development -the increasing maturation of the brain, combined with opportunities to experience the world, contribute to children's emerging cognitive abilities -the brain is organized in many neural circuits, which consist of neurons with certain functions -one neural circuit has an important function in attention and working memory (similar to short term memory that helps with performing cognitive tasks) -this neural circuit involves the prefrontal cortex and the neurotransmitter dopamine -from 3 to 6 years of age, the most rapid growth takes place in the frontal lobe areas involved in planning and organizing new actions, and in maintaining attention to tasks Motor Development Gross Motor Skills -at 3 years of age, children enjoy simple movements such as hopping, jumping, and running back and forth; 3 year olds have the highest activity level of any age in the entire human life span -they fidget when they watch TV, sit at the dinner table, when they sleep, etc. -preschool children need daily exercise because of their activity level and their development of large muscles -at 4 years of age, children are still enjoying the same kind of activities but they have become more adventurous by displaying their athletic prowess -at 5 years of age, children are even more adventurous Fine Motor Skills -3 year olds are still somewhat clumsy -e.g.: when they play with a jigsaw puzzle, they are rough in placing the pieces -at 4 years of age, children's fine motor coordination has become much more precise -by 5 years of age, hand, arm, and body all move together under better command of the eye Health and Wellness Energy Needs -the average preschool child requires 1700 calories per day -the average daily energy intake by children aged 4 to 8 in the 10 provinces was 1895 calories -energy requirements for individual children are determined by the basal metabolism rate (BMR) which is the minimum amount of energy a person uses in a resting state -energy needs of individual children of the same age, sex, and size vary due to differences in physical activity, BMR, and the efficiency with which children use energy Eating Behaviour -we often eat on the run and pick up fast food meals, which contribute to the increased fat levels in children's diets -childhood obesity contributes to a number of problems, including psychological adjustment -e.g.: being overweight is linked with lower self-esteem, negative self-image, a pervading sense of sadness, loneliness, and an increase in high-risk behaviour -being overweight or obese in early childhood is a significant predictor of later life health care issues such as continued weight issues -BMI is used to indicate if a person has the expected weight, or is overweight or obese -most children gain weight prior to a growth spurt -prevention of obesity in children includes helping children and parents see food as a way to satisfy hunger and nutritional needs, not as proof of love or as a reward for good behaviour -routine physical activity should be daily Wellness in Canada -the disorders most likely to be fatal during early childhood today are birth defects, cancer, and disease of the nervous system, since vaccines have eradicated things like meningitis, measles, rubella, mumps, chicken pox, etc. -unintentional injuries (i.e.: automobile accidents) are the leading cause of death among children between ages of 1 and 11, totalling 33% of all deaths in this age group -after motor vehicle accidents, drowning, threats to breathing, and fire are the most common causes of death in this group -these injuries are all preventable -parental smoking is also a concern for children -children are at risk for health problems when they live in homes in which a parent smokes -children exposed to tobacco in the home are more likely to develop wheezing symptoms and asthma than children in non-smoking homes -have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood -of special concern is the poor health status of young children from low-income families -living in poverty has a negative impact on the health of Canadian children -children under 5 years of age, living in a low-income family had higher rates of asthma and injuries, were more likely to be overweight or obese, had poorer mental health ratings, and had lower level of readiness for school and functional health than children in middle to high-income families -Aboriginal children are also of special concern -their health is poorer than other children -58% of Aboriginal children living on reserve were overweight or obese -type II diabetes is increasing among obese and overweight children -tuberculosis rate is 4.8 times higher than the rate for the general population and 26.4 times higher than Canadian-born non-Aboriginals due to higher housing densities (foreign-born Canadians have higher tuberculosis rates) -other issues include the fact that Aboriginal Canadians live in isolated communities, beyond the reach of healthcare providers Wellness in Other Countries -the link between poverty and children's health is also a factor in the rest of the world -the poor are the majority in 1 in 5 nations in the world -the poor often experience hunger, malnutrition, unsafe water, and inadequate access to health care -poor countries have worse records on child health compared to Canada -the leading factor in death of the world's children is pneumonia -dehydration from diarrheal disease is the 2nd most common cause of death for children under 5 in the world -children require plenty of water to prevent dehydration -sources of water are usually contaminated -measles, tetanus, and whooping cough also cause death though increased efforts for immunization programs have decreased disease -preventable injuries are also a leading cause of death among children -i.e.: road accidents, drowning, burns, falling, poisoning -there have been an increase in the number of young children who have died because of HIV/AIDS transmitted to them from their parents -high rates of poverty are linked to low levels of education -many illnesses can be prevented by parental actions such as adequate birth spacing, care during pregnancy, breastfeeding, immunization, and regular health checkups Cognitive Development Piaget's Preoperational Stage -the infant progresses in the ability to organize and coordinate sensations and perceptions with physical movements and actions -the preoperational stage lasts from 2 to 7 years of age and is the 2nd Piagetian stage -in this stage, children begin to represent the world with words, images, and drawings -they form stable concepts and begin to reason -during this time, the child's cognitive world is dominated by egocentrism and magical beliefs -the child does not think in an operational way -operations are internalized sets of actions that allow the child to do mentally when before he/she did physically -e.g.: mentally adding and subtracting numbers -preoperational thought can be subdivided into 2 substages: 1) Symbolic Function Substage -occurs roughly between the ages of 2 and 4 -in this stage, the young child gains the ability to mentally represent an object that is not present -the ability to engage in this symbolic though is called symbolic function and it expands the child's mental world -young children use scribbled designs to represent people, houses, cars, clouds, and so on -other examples of symbolism are language, pretend play (symbolic play, as when children pretend to be the mother and father), and deferred imitation -the thinking in young children still has 2 limitations: a) Egocentrism -this is a feature of preoperational thought -it is the inability to distinguish between one's own perspective and someone else's perspective -this was studied through the "3-mountains task" -the child walks around the model of the mountains and becomes familiar with what the mountains look like from different perspectives -the child is seated on one side of the table -the experimenter moves a doll to different locations around the table, at each location asking the child to select, from a series of photos, the one photo that most accurately reflects the view the doll is seeing -children in preoperational stage often pick the view from where they are sitting, rather than the doll's view b) Animism -is another limitation within preoperational thought -it is the belief that inanimate objects have lifelike qualities and are capable of action -e.g.: a child might say, "the sidewalk made me mad; it made me fall down" -because children are not very concerned about reality, their drawings are fanciful and inventive -later, a child's drawings become more realistic, neat, and precise -what is the signifier and what is the signified? 2) Intuitive Thought Substage -occurs between approximately 4 and 7 years of age -in this substage, children begin to use primitive reasoning and want to know the answers to all sorts of questions -children seem quite sure about their knowledge and understanding, yet are unaware of how they know what they know -centration is the focusing, or centring, of attention on one characteristic to the exclusion of all others and is characteristic of preoperational thought -it is most clearly evidenced in young children's lack of conservation (the awareness that altering an object's or a substance's appearance does not change its basic properties) -in a conservation task, a child is presented with 2 identical beakers, each filled to the same level with liquid -the child is asked if these beakers have the same amount of liquid, and the child usually replies yes -the liquid from 1 beaker is poured into a 3rd beaker, which is taller and thinner than the first 2 -the child is asked if the amount of liquid in the tall, thin beaker is equal to that which remains in one of the original beakers -children younger than 7 or 8 years usually say no and justify their answer in terms of the differing height or width of the beaker -this shows centration in children or focusing on just one aspect of the event -older children usually answer yes and justify their answers appropriately -a child's inability to reverse actions mentally is an important characteristic of preoperational thought -e.g.: in the conservation of matter, preoperational children say that the longer shape has more clay because they assume that "longer is more" -they cannot mentally reverse the clay-rolling process to see that the amount of clay is the same -CRITICISMS OF PIAGET'S PREOPERATIONAL STAGE: -Gelman showed that when the child's attention to relevant aspects of the conservation task is improved, the child is more likely to conserve -conservation appears earlier than Piaget thought -due to egocentrism, children should not realize that they need to provide an audience with information concerning the time and location, not just the action, of their past experiences if the audience were not present at the same events -children may not be as egocentric as Piaget suggested -the animism that preoperational children sometimes show may reflect a lack of knowledge of certain objects, rather than the presence of a qualitatively different cognitive structure Characteristics of Preoperational Thought 1) More symbolic than sensorimotor thought 2) Inability to engage in operations; cannot mentally reverse actions, lacks conservation skills 3) Egocentric (inability to distinguish between own perspective and someone else's) 4) Intuitive, rather than logical Vygotsky's Theory -the basic principles of Vygotsky's theory are: 1) the child's cognitive skills can be understood only when they are developmentally analyzed and interpreted 2) cognitive skills are mediated by words, language, and forms of discourse, which serve as psychological tools for facilitating and transforming mental activity 3) cognitive skills have their origins in social relations and are embedded in a socio- cultural background The Zone of Proximal Development -is Vygotsky's term for the range of tasks too difficult for a child to master alone but that can be learned with the guidance and assistance of adults or more-skilled children -the lower limit of the ZPD is the level of problem solving reached by the child working independently -the upper limit is the level of additional responsibility the child can accept with the assistance of an able instructor -e.g.: an adult helping a child put together a jigsaw puzzle -Vygotsky's emphasis on the ZPD shows his belief in the importance of social influences, especially instruction, on children's cognitive development -the ZPD captures the child's cognitive skills that are in the process of maturing and can be accomplished only with the assistance of a more-skilled person; a.k.a the "buds" or "flowers" of development Scaffolding -the changing in the level of support -over the course of a teaching session, a more-skilled person (i.e.: teacher or more advanced peers) adjusts the amount of guidance to fit the child's current performance -when the task the student is learning is new, the more-skilled person may use direct instruction; as the student's competence increases, less guidance is given -dialogue is an important tool of scaffolding in the zone of proximal development -Vygotsky viewed children as having rich but unsystematic, disorganized, and spontaneous concepts -through dialogue, these concepts meet with the skilled helper's more systematic, logical, and rational concepts -through dialogue, the child's concepts become more systematic, logical, and rational Language and Thought -Vygotsky believed that young children use language not only for social communication, but also to plan, guide, and monitor their behaviour in a self-regulatory fashion -the use of language for self-regulation is called inner speech or private speech -for Piaget, private speech is egocentric and immature -for Vygotsky, it is an important tool of thought during the early childhood years -there is more support for Vygotsky's view of the positive role of private speech in children's development -Vygotsky believed that language and thought initially developed independently of each other and then merge -all mental functions have external, or social, origins -children must use language to communicate with others before they can focus inward on their own thoughts -children must communicate externally and use language for a long period of time before the transition from external to internal speech takes place -this transition period takes place between ages 3 and 7 and involves talking to oneself -after, self-talk becomes second nature to children and they can act without verbalizing
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