Child Development Essay

Child Development Essay

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There have been many visionaries that have developed theoretical frameworks which give a basic, general approach to understanding the ways in which children develop. Doherty and Hughes (2009) recall that early childhood progression is most commonly presented in terms of specific periods of time. Therefore, this tends to relate to the idea of fixed and limited stages that are strongly linked with chronological age, moreover, providing a very specific ordering of change. The most frequently identified periods of development are prenatal, infancy and toddlerhood, early childhood, later childhood and adolescence. Generalised theories on child development came about in the 17th century, with John Locke’s ‘Some Thoughts Concerning Education’ (1693) forming a foundation where a child was born as a “blank slate.” Contrastingly, Jean- Jacques Rousseau’s ‘Emile’ (1762) explored the idea that children were born with a sense of morality. These two theorists provide the origins of generalised development, meaning that within these theories, children develop in the same way. However, using Gewirtz and Pelaez-Nogueras’ (1992) criteria for evaluating theories, generalised theories do not take account for individual differences that exist as children grow and develop. Thus, it could be suggested that these broad patterns are not likely to be very helpful.

Behaviourism, on the other hand, asserts that development of the individual can be achieved through observation of, and experiences in, the environment. It stipulates that development has to be based on observations rather than speculations about cognitive processes, which are by their nature unobservable.

One early proponent of this theory was John Watson, who, in 1913, published a paper ...


... middle of paper ...


...t reflects slow and steady change over time, or it goes through distinctly defined stages. Arguably, development should be considered as being largely continuous but having certain stages characterised by ‘milestone’ stages such as beginning to walk, where this new skill is clearly different from the child’s previous abilities. The development within early childhood can be seen to be due to many factors that have some clear effects upon some aspect of their progression, such as diverse environments and social settings. Every child experiences a unique combination of genetic and environmental influences that show how children have their own distinctive abilities, suggesting that generalised patterns are not very helpful indicators in considering the development of an individual child except as a loose framework within which to child’s development can be monitored.

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