INTRODUCTION I was referred to the child minder as



A reflection of
child observation and development theories. This will compare the various child
development theories as proposed by the various theorists, it will link the
theories to the Child that was observed who is  aged three and within a child minding setting.
The observation has been made over six hours in the course of six days. I
planned and executed the observation on the child on six occasions which were
different to each other in terms of time and the adult individuals’ presence.
It will be looking critically at what was observed and learnt with particular
reference to the cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development
of the child  which is relevant to the
social work practice, reflection on the observation of the child,
anti-oppressive practices and child development.

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 For the purpose of maintaining confidentiality
in accordance with the relevant legislations of the profession, the child will
be named under the pseudonym of Derby.

Derby is a three-year-old
girl who is a white British and lives with her parents. She is currently the only
child but Mum is expecting.  Her parents
work full time, she is at  nursery 3 days
and  child minder 2 times a week full
time. The child minder offers a wide range of activities, has people of various
ethnic and cultural background while also encouraging free play.


observation was done within a child minder context. I observed the child of a
family who is living in a rented home with working class parents. Observation
was made during the childminding hours in the presence of the child minders
with consent from the parents of the child. I made contact with the parents of
the child on 10th November 2017 evening to explain the purpose of
the observation and I was referred to the child minder as they stated it was
the most convenient time and place for the observation to be done. They were
voluntary but still wanted the observation with the child minder. The room was
filled with, books, toys, computer, sand, well designed dining area, paint,
aprons and dressing up clothes and clutter of noise and emotions.


the observation was going on, I noticed Derby was engaging in play with other
children irrespective of their age and colour, She is active, has good motor
skills and speaks understandable language. Derby’s
Social Development seems to be what is expected for her age group. She didn’t
seem to have any difficulty interacting with other children or joining in with
her peers or communicating or expressing her views to others. With regards her physical
development, her fine motor skills where fully developed and she could engage
in activities using both her hands, fingers and all parts of her body.

the beginning of the observation Derby was sat on the Sofa alone watching T.V,
she appeared very engrossed with the programme, however moments later she
joined other kids in play and participated fully while having a special
attachment to a particular child, according to (Flood 2010:129) from about 3
years, children begin to try to integrate themselves smoothly into peer
activities and begin friendships with selected peers this was noticed during
the observation, she had a child who she loved to sit beside, cuddle, share
stories and idea with and also take along to all the play activities, they were
of the same age, noticed she preferred to always have her as a partner but she
was still very flexible in all the play role activities.(Appendix 1-5).

According to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, Derby would be
said to be within the eight stages as identified by the psychoanalytic theory,
in which a healthy developing individual should pass through from infancy. Parten’s theory states that children
of different ages play together differently. They engage in different levels or
categories of social play. This was evident in Derby’s play as she played in
all the stages. (Appendix 1-5) (Szarkowicz 2006)

communicates what she needs within almost a clear language, ask before touching
something, tried to associate what she thought and what others thought too
before doing anything, I noticed she was very observant as she observes before
getting involved in anything either play or discussions. Hence, I found she is
on the right way of development and pass the previous stage successfully. (Appendix 1-6).

observed Derby with respect to Erickson psychosocial theory, it would be seen
she is in autonomy vs. shame stage. According to his analysis in this stage, a child
gains control over eliminative functions and motor abilities, they begin to
explore their surroundings. This was the case with Derby, she was observed
feeding herself independently during lunch, heard telling her friends she is
able to dress herself, and use the bathroom. At this stage, if caregivers
encourage self-sufficient behaviour, toddlers develop a sense of autonomy- a
sense of being able to handle many problems on their own.


the observation, I applied theories to the observation which was the attachment
theory and cognitive development theory. Piaget believes that children go
through specific stages according to their intellect and ability to perceive
mature relationships. Piaget theory started out by two main concepts, accommodation,
and assimilation.

proposed that cognitive development happens in four stages, (0 to 2 years)
being the sensori motor, (2 to 7 years) the preoperational period, (7 to 12
years) the concrete operational period, and 12 years and above the formal operations
period. (Beckett and Taylor 2010). From Piagets theory it would be seen that
Derby is at the preoperational period as she is aged 3.

to Crawford and Walker (2008), Piaget states that in the preoperational stages,
children are yet to understand the ability to apprehend, offer judgment,
inference or think actions through. He is of the view that children at this
stage are guided by an egocentric thinking by showing difficulty in seeing
things from a point of view other than their own. They also engage in third
person, very curious and want to learn and would so often ask “why”. During my
observation, this was evidenced by Derby on several occasions and the other
children during free play. It is also of note to me that Piaget’s theory are
not fixed and concrete in any child as Derby seemed to be acting and had more a
developed cognition than what will be expected of her age. (Appendix 4 &

believes that children build their understanding of the world through activities
and interaction with others. During the observations, a child aged 1 year fell
and started crying, Derby was quick to give a cuddle and offer some comforting
words and peck to the child, thou I didn’t hear much of what she said, but the
child soon after stopped crying, she showed an understanding that a child needs
to be comforted and cuddled to stop crying and become happy again. (Appendix 3).

Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), study on cognitive growth did not see children as
individual explorers of knowledge, but he saw them as learners from social
interactions. Derby falls within his two levels of cognitive development which
are her actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving
and secondly her level of potential development as determined by the kind of
problem solving she can do under adult guidance or playing with more capable

and Vygotsky agreed that children build their knowledge through experiences.
This was well evidenced in Derby as she was very compassionate and her
cognition level was higher than what I did expect of a child of her age, I was
having memories of how my son who is of same age does behave and he does nothing
close to what Derby did, thou Piaget’s concept have been criticised of denying
other aspects of thinking such as intuition and creativity and for not
examining and explaining individual differences in children. This was evidenced
by Derby during the observation as she was the only English person in the
setting, I noticed she was always quick to cuddle the little children each time
they felt anxious and cried while other kids just sat and watched. Vygotsky’s
theory draws attention to the role of social and culture interaction and
identifies the principle of scaffolding in the children’s learning.


the observation, I observed Derby language development and also how her
emotions where, though several theories have been developed that attempt to
explain the mystery of how children acquire language. Many of these theories
are based upon nature versus nurture arguments. The learning-theory approach is
nurture based, and language development can be attributed to the child’s
environment (Cole and Cole).

 I considered the theories of Chomsky, Piaget
and Vygotsky while observing Derby and I came to understand that language is an
important part in human development because it is a major medium of social
interaction. According to Beckett and Taylor (2011), the vocabulary of children
between the ages of 3 to 6 expands from 2 word sentence to more complex
sentences. Whilst I was observing Derby, I noticed that most of her
conversation and responses were complete sentences (Appendix 3 & 4).Chomsky
(1957) believed that sentences are created every time. Chomsky theory
emphasises the need for language in the environment to stimulate children’s
innate abilities. (Crain 2005)

According to
Piaget’s theory during the preoperational stage children’s language rapidly
progress due to the development of their mental schemas, which allow them to
accommodate new words and build simple sentences. (Appendix 1-5). Derby was able to engage
in small talks about things of the past, the future, people, feelings and
events when one of the child asked why it’s usually sunny during winter and she
responded accurately with why, whom and what happened last winter and summer as
well. This came quite surprising to me considering her age and developmental
stage. (Appendix 3)

Piaget proposed
that, during the sensory-motor period, children’s language is egocentric and
they talk either for themselves or for amusement. (Appendix 2-5). This was observed during
the interaction about a toy camera. During this period, their language often
shows instances of what Piaget termed animism and egocentrism. I feel that
Derby’s language development appears to be within the normal range for her age.
Chomsky proposed that children automatically create grammatical forms according
to the genetic design and in contrast, Piaget proposed that cognitive
structures emerge from the child’s own effort. I am of the view that children
learn entirely on their own as I observed Derby mimicking children and the
adults in their language as they had a different accent and different language
development from her. (Appendix 1-5)

Vygotsky is of
the view that language acquisition is a result of both biological and
environmental factors. By observing Derby, I have gained insight into the
child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and skills and how once environment
can have an impact.



the Child observation, I was
able to understand that being able to operate effectively requires practitioners
to work in anti-oppressive way and this has to be both research led,
experiential and observational, hence every practitioner has to avoid being
judgemental but allow events as they unfold. It is also an important for the understanding
of every child development or issues such
as ethics, values. Adopting an ant
oppressive practice responds to issues and questions which are usually
identified by the oppressed groups themselves, and in this case, the family of
the child would fall into this category.


Good relationship between practioners, families,
children and services users are central to the effectiveness of good
anti-oppressive practice. Dalrymple and Burke (1995) states that social workers
should seek knowledge, understanding and be able to identify their strengths
and weaknesses.

Being able to explain how a childs behaviour and emotions
impacts on other children is vital for the profession, hence it is
essential that one needs to be encouraged to
use anti-oppressive practices when working with children and families,
in settings such as day-cares, child-minding settings and nurseries. However anyone who is in contact
with children needs to be made familiar with legislations such as Children Act
1989 and Human Rights Acts 1998 to effectively engage good anti-oppressive
practice. The observation process provided me with an opportunity to
focus on the vulnerability, resilience and the relative powerlessness of
children in a childminding setting, knowledge and skills.


It would be
seen that theoretical knowledge is the key to effective intervention and good
assessment when observing and assessing children. Critical awareness and self?reflective has allowed me to re-examine my own
values, and biases and as result I have gained basic knowledge of child
development. The observation and my ongoing learning of aspect of human growth
module allowed me to become aware of positions of power and how such power can
impact child development.


Beckett, C. and Taylor, H. (2010) Human
growth and development. 2nd edn. London: Sage Publications

L. (2006) Chidl Development, Boston, USA: Pearson International

Bee, H. and Boyd, D. (2010) The
developing child. 13th edn. London: Pearson Education

Casper, V. and Theilheimer, R. (2009)
Early childhood education: learning together. New York: McGraw-Hill Education

Charlesworth, R. (2011) Understanding
child development. 8th edn. Belmont: Cengage Learning

Crain, W. (2005) Theories of
development: concepts and applications. 5th edn. New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Crawford, K. and Walker, J (2007)
Social work and human development. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd

H. (2011) ‘The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Congitive Development’
Chichester, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

J. and Hughes, M. (2009) Child Development: Theory and Practice 0-11,
Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Fawcett, M. (2009) Learning through
observation. 2nd edn. London: Jessica Kingsley

L.&.F.S. (1994) ”Infant and child observation as preparation for social
work practice’, Social Work Education vol., vol. 13, no. 3, pp.

P. (2011) ‘The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Congitive Development’
Chichester, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

M. (2010) Social Work Perspectives On Human Behaviour, Maidenhead,
Birkshire: Open Universtiy McGraw-Hill.

D.M. (1997) From Birth to Five Years: Children’s Developmental Progress,
London: Routledge.







Date : 16/01/2018

Child’s initial : I

Setting : Child minding – Indoors

Activity : group play, toy play,
watching TV.

Number and age of children: 9(1-4
year olds)

Number of Adults: 3


12:00: The minder informed they were engaged
in play with each other

12:05: she was playing hide and seek
game with other children

12:08: she was still hiding under the
throw pillows where she was hiding

12:13: she was laughing and screaming
in happiness as she had been found by her playmates

12:15: she began running round and
round while the play continued, she was vocal thou I didn’t hear all what she
said. It was noisy.

12:18: she cuddled up a child who had
a fall during the play.

12:20: she sat watching T.V, saying
she is tired but still watched on as the other kids played and was saying

12:25: sat watching T.V

12:30: the adult called on her to
come for lunch

12:35: she was sat on the table ready
for lunch and waited patiently for the adult to offer her own launch.

12:37: she got a tickle from a  child who was sat beside her and she laughed
and tickled the boy back and they both started a tickling play while sat on the
table waiting for lunch to be served.

12:42: Adult in charge told them both
off and lunch was served.

12:43: she is sat having lunch
(sandwich), observing others but not saying a word to anyone.

12:55: she calls on adult and says
she is done with her lunch and needs to go to the play section.

12:57: she has her hand washed.

13:00: she is sat on the sofa and
appears a bit moody.



Date: 18/01/2018

Child’s initial: I

Setting: Child minding- Indoors

Activity:  Free play

Number and age of children: 9(1-4
year olds)

Number of Adults: 3

Time: 13:00- 14:00.

The moment I walked into the room,
she ran to me and said she had just finished her lunch and it was yummy,
thereafter other kids came along as well telling me same thing. All she did
during this observation was running and playing from one sofa to the other with
3 other kids. She did scream and laugh most of the times as she was happy
jumping from one chair to the other.

I noticed when she wanted to use the
toilet she called one of the children to come so they could go together, she
used the toilet independently and came out and informed the adult that she had
washed her hands when she was done. She got a sticker from the adult and she
went back to continue jumping and playing from one chair to the other.




Date : 23/01/2018

Child’s initial : I

Setting : Child minding- Indoors

Activity : Free play, watching TV

Number and age of children: 7(1-3
year olds)

Number of Adults: 2

11:00:  she was dozing off on the chair, sharing a
chair with another child who was watching T.V.

11:10: still sleeping but this time
she kept her head on the child body.

11:12: sleeping while cuddling the

11:14: Awake, went straight to use
the toilet and came back to the chair and sat watching T.V

11:30: she approached the 1 year old
who fell and was crying and gave him a hug and told him “I love you” while she
was still holding him. The adult present said, “she always cuddles them
whenever they cry or fall”

11:38: she returned to her chair and
asked the child who she was sharing a chair if she was alright. She then gave
her a hug and adjusts herself properly unto the sit to watch the TV

11:45: she stands and grabs one of
the toys which was a toy camera. Tells everyone to say smile and say cheese and
they all did, standing up and cheering.

11:55: she was too excited playing
with the camera and gave the same child who she shared a chair with to take a
picture of her and she posed in various ways. Raising her dress up at one of
the times. The adult present corrected her saying girls don’t lift their dress
or undress while taking a picture.

12:00: A child ask why is it sunny
during winter and she responds with, mum says it is not sunny during winter but
rainy, its during the summer you get sunshine




Date: 25/01/2018

Child’s initial: I

Setting: Child minding-indoors

Activity: story time, lunch and free

Number and age of children: 8(1-3
year olds)

Number of Adults: 3


12:00: she is enjoying a story shared
and read by one of the adults, she was very relaxed, observant, refused to be
distracted by the younger kids. She paid attention to the stories like no one
else did from my observation, she did imitate all the actions the adult made
while telling the story.

12:20: she was ready for lunch, sat
on the table and waited patiently. Noticed she has a routine of not talking
while on the table but rather looking around and observing others.

12:25: lunch is served, she eats her
lunch happily and requested for a yogurt. She said “can I please have some
yogurt” I was amazed at this request as my son who is of same age cannot do

12:30: she request to have her hand
washed and to leave the dining area.

12:32: she is using the toilet
independently, comes out and asks the adult if she is looking good. The adult
responds yes you are and she smiles and runs into the play area.

1238: she is playing with the
phonetics play board. She repeated all the words that was said , she did this
alone until her closet peer came to join her and they played together.

12:45: she welcomed the 1 year old
boy who came to join in the play, she found a toy of his age and gave to him,
she watched him all through the play to ensure he was fine and was always
asking the boy if he wants another toy while touching his head. She was very
compassionate towards the little boy.




Date: 25/01/2018

Child’s initial: I

Setting: Child minding-indoors

Activity: free play, watching TV

Number and age of children: 10(1-3
year olds)

Number of Adults: 3

Time:13:30-14:00: She was playing
with other children between the ages of 1-3 with various toys. She is running
following a particular child whom I noticed she has is attached to. It’s a ball
game and the ball is going around to everyone. A child comes to her, hits her
during the play and dashes off, she ignored the child and continued the play
without no retaliation or complains about what the child had done. She was
engrossed with the play.

14:05: she is sat on the chair
breathing fast.

14:07: the child she is close to
comes to her and asks if she is ok. She replied ” I am fine just a bit tired”

14:10: she is sat watching TV sharing
the same chair with her friend.

14:15: a child approaches her, hits
her and she smiles.

14:17: A child pulls her hair, and I
had to step in to intervene as there was no adult around. Her hair is pulled from
the root, she says “you did this yesterday, I will tell mum again”.

14:20: An adult comes in and takes
the two of them away.

14:25: she comes in smiling and
happy. sat back on her space, minutes later she ran to me for a hug, I did ask
if she was ok and she said yes. States the child is being naughty and is in the
naughty corner.




Date: 26/01/2018

Child’s initial: I

Setting: Child minding-indoors


Number and age of children: 8(1-4
year olds)

Number of Adults: 3

Time: 10:00-11:00: she was sleeping
upon arrival and she remained sleeping throughout the observation. She woke up
to use the toilet and went back to sleep. Guess this was because she was the
only 3 year old around on the day, the other kids were 1 year plus and where
all sleepy as well. The oldest child was not feeling well hence she was quiet.