This assignment exploreshow children’s learning can be effected by various areas of development:physical, intellectual, linguistic, social, cultural and moral. Children’s learningwill be investigated using observations carried out through a child study withreferences to research and theories. The approaches used when observing thechildren were systematic; allowing an in-depth insight of two individual childrenover multitudinal areas and producing a mixture of qualitive and quantitivedata. In this essay child developmentwill be broken down into separate areas, Brodie et al, (2016) asserts that child development is not isolated but intertwined,with all aspects affecting one another. Child development is therefore aholistic process where the child as a whole is considered, contrasting to the1960s where this concept was highly discredited. The observationalevidence collected was based upon two children, referred to as Child 1 andChild 2 and they were observed over 7 days within the school environment. Thisprovided me with the opportunity to collect a range of data to analyse.
The two children observed were both ten and inyear six, Child 1 is male and has no siblings and Child 2 is female and has anolder sister. Both children have divorced parents however, Child 1 has anabsent father and Child 2 has frequent contact with her father. Both childrenstarted the year below national average.Physical developmentis an essential part of a child’s learning, it allows children to discoverconcepts ‘about themselves and the world around them’. (Wilson, 2008, p.2.
). O’connor (2016) claimsthat physical development can be broken down into two separate areas; finemotor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills being, ‘the developmentof fine control, small movements and the management of objects’ (Woodfield, 2004, p.53.) These skills arecrucial to a child’s learning as they impact on the child’s ability to hold apen and write efficiently and therefore, be able to form letters form the Englishlanguage fluently.
However, O’connor (2016, p.4.) states, that ‘it can beseveral years before there is enough differentiation in the joints and musclesof the wrists and hands to enable the fingers to be used effectively’. This means that gross motor skills need tostart developing first, before fine motor skills are developed fully. Doherty et al, (2008) and Cable et al, (2010) agree thatmovement and developing gross motor skills are essential for a child to developtheir independent learning adequately. As physical development occurs, childrenthrough their exploration learn many lessons such as; how to progress fromcrawling to walking, how to wiggle their fingers individually and how to useboth motor skills to play with their new interactive toy. Therefore, physicaldevelopment skills need to be developed before a child can start writing forthe first time.
It is evident from my observations that Child 1 and Child 2could both hold their pencil correctly however, Child 1 struggled with formingthe letters consistently leaving some of his words ambiguous and larger thanChild two’s writing (see appendix 1). Due to this, Child 1 has interventionsessions which focus on his handwriting skills and develop his fine motorskills. The difference in handwriting between each child could reflect the developmentbetween their individual motor skills and the different backgrounds Child 1 andChild 2 come from (see appendix 2).
Cognitiveor intellectual development plays a huge role in a child’s learning. Piaget establishedthe concept of schemas to imply how children acquire cognitive development (Taylor, 2005). Bee et al (2007, p.150) define schemas asa ‘complex of ideas’, Smith(2003, p.391), states that they are ‘mental operations, which canbe applied to objects, beliefs, ideas of anything in a child’s world’.
Piaget theorised that children learn in twoways; assimilation and accommodation (Taylor, 2005). Assimilation is ‘theprocess of taking in, of absorbing some event or experience’ (Bee et al, 2007, p.150) and accommodationis ‘changing a scheme as a result of new information taken in by assimilation’ (Ibid).
Bukatako et al (2012, p.23) agrees with Bee et al (2007) and definesaccommodation as a ‘process of modification in thinking that takes place whenold ways of understanding something no longer fit’. Therefore, it is essentialthe class teacher acknowledges the two ways children learn in order to ensurenew concepts are learnt effectively. Thetwo children in the child study both demonstrated Piaget’s two ways oflearning; assimilation and accommodation through a practical activity designedto address a science misconception (see appendix 3). Child 1 and 2 were bothable to modify their way of thinking, resulting in accommodating their schemato fit the new concept taught.
Thetheorist Piaget stated that there are several stages of cognitive developmentthat children progress through; sensori-motor, preoperational, concreteoperational and formal operational (Taylor, 2005). It is evident that Child 1 and Child 2 are both atdifferent cognitive stages (see appendix 4). Child 1 is at the preoperational stage,the age range allocated to this stage is 2-7 years. This is clear from hiswriting (see appendix 1), where his imagination and intuition is strong, but hestruggles with his complex abstract thoughts. However, Child 2 is at the formaloperational stage which according to Piaget only develops at age 11+.
This isclear from her writing (see appendix 1) where she uses hypothetical thinkingsuch as ‘everyone needed to get across’, ‘there was a swing, and abstract logicand reasoning such as ‘I felt better because Lotte was helping me, and she knewI got scared, but I was still a bit scared.’ and ‘I would have preferred to goat the end (then I wouldn’t have felt so trapped in) but I didn’t complain.’She also shows that concepts used in one context can be applied to another (seeappendix 4).
Althoughboth children are in the same academic year and the same age, their cognitivedevelopment stage varies substantially therefore, a teacher should adapt theirteaching to suit an individual’s cognitive understanding (Smith, 2003). Many theoristscriticise Piaget’s argument, that the stages of development automatically progresswith maturity. Santrock(2008) argues that stagesof development should not depend on your physical age and should not bemeasured by the individual alone but take into account other external factors. Linguisticdevelopment is a vital component to children’s learning, as communication is akey element to a child’s life (Wells,2012).
Language is ‘asocially shared code or conventional system for representing concepts throughthe use of arbitrary symbols and rule governed combinations of those symbols’ (Ownes, 2016, p.18). Children mustacquire a common code that allows them to communicate effectively with theirpeers and develop their social development, without these simple principles achild’s learning can be seriously affected.
Chomsky asserted that language wasan innate process that a child naturally acquires (Wen, 2013). He stated thateveryone is born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), that equips themwith the ability to understand and communicate in a common code (Ownes, 2016). However, McCune (2008, p.1) who is part of thebehaviourism field of thought, disagrees with Chomsky and states that ‘language isnot itself an instinct but a product of our human heritage and the work ofinfants and the adults who care for them’. An example of this is the case studyof Genie; a child who was deprived of interaction with human beings for 12years of her life and neglected from any stimulus of learning. This case studyproved that if language was merely an innate process through a LAD as Chomskystated, then Genie would’ve been able to acquire language naturally.
Bothchildren used in the child study had well developed language skills. However,their linguistic ability whilst reading varied (see appendix 5). Child 1 read awell-known Roald Dahl story, which had illustrations and medium sized text. Dueto lack of focus on the text he struggled with pronunciation of adjectives andunfamiliar nouns. Therefore, his fluency was poor and his mistakes created anagitated atmosphere. Child 2 however, read The Hunger Games. She was aconfident reader, shown through her emphasis and stress on certain lexis. Thelarge gap in development in terms of reading between Child 1 and 2 indicatesthe importance of linguistic skills in the classroom environment.
A child’slinguistic skills can have a detrimental effect on their learning if notdeveloped efficiently. Limited learning can occur if there is a languagebarrier or if a child struggles to recognise certain phonemes that make up the Englishlanguage. Anothersignificant part of children’s learning is social development. Many theoristsbelieve that allowing children to socially interact, enhances their learning asthey can evaluate their ideas effectively.
Fawcett et al (2016, p.106) states that ‘children learn language,problem solving and about the environment through group interactions’. This is evident in Child 1 and 2 (see appendix6). When observed for thirty minutesduring a Science lesson, where a practical was taken place, Child 1 spoke toanother person 11 times and Child 2 spoke to another person 14 times. Thiscontrasts with a maths lesson, where Child 1 only spoke to another person 6times and Child 2 to spoke to another person 15 times.
Child 1 spokesignificantly less whilst participating in Maths and Child 2 spoke a little bitmore, this difference could be due to the seating arrangement for Maths (Seeappendix 7). Child 1 has two desks to himself and Child 2 is frequently satsurrounded by people. However, both children talk less in English than in anyother subject. This difference could be due to the change in the structure of thelesson, where the teacher encourages independent thinking throughout English tocomplete a piece of writing whereas, in Science the teacher encourages groupwork to work cooperatively to complete the practical.
The theorist Moyles (2015, p.94) states that, ‘friendshipcan frame and nurture intellectuality challenging learning experiences when theresources available are sufficiently flexible..’.
This indicates that socialinteractions are a compelling part of a child’s learning due to the moresocially developed the child is, the more they can interact and learn fromtheir peers. This ultimately increases their overall understanding of the taskor the subject. Furthermore, Social groups and friendship groups can have amajor effect on a child’s learning. Blades et al (2003) asserts that, ‘in 5-6 year olds, continuedvictimisation led to loneliness and school avoidance. Already probably lackingclose friends at school, victims of bullying are likely to lose confidence andself-esteem even further’.
Therefore, if a child has a secure group of friendswho share the same interests as them, then they will be in the right frame ofmind and headset to learn. However, if a child has a limited social group atschool and is deprived from social interaction from their peers, theirconcentration and enthusiasm to learn may be inconsistent and their willingnessto attend school is vastly decreased. Social development is a key aspect of achild’s learning as human beings learn morals and rules through the act ofsocialisation. If a child lacks social skills due to their social developmentskills not being developed efficiently, their emotional development can beeffected substantially. This therefore, links emotional and social developmentas dependable on each other to create an effective learning environment. Emotionaland social development are interchangeable, as a child’s social state can havea huge effect on a child’s emotional state. Without both these skills beingacquired, learning can be stinted. When a child is emotionally stable and havinggratifying relationships with others, their development in all other areasbecome healthy (Lindon,2016).
Lindon (2016, p.87), stated that thereare three components to emotional development; ’emotional intelligence, emotionalliteracy and emotional vocabulary’. Coleman(1996) affirmed that, all these partsof emotional development combine together to contribute towards a child’semotional awareness. Barnes(1995, p.138), states that young children have limited basicemotions such as ‘sadness, happiness, anger and love’, these fundamentalemotions develop into more compounded emotions as children mature. A keycomponent that a child acquires through emotional development is learning whento display and when to suppress their emotions, Barnes (1995) asserts that some children learn this skill at anincreased rate than others. It is arguable that when a child achieves thisskill, the child is becoming more socially aware and established as a humanbeing.
Barnes (ibid) also recognisesthat if a child has the capability to control their emotions, they aredemonstrating emotional maturity. Young children are more likely to be moreemotional unstable due to the lack of control they have over their emotions.This can have a negative effect on learning as, when an emotion such as ‘sadness’,takes over a child’s body, their brain will find it hard to concentrate on thegiven task at hand. Furthermore, a common emotion children experience is overexcitement, this can lead to children not listening and processing informationeffectively, leading to learning not taking place. Child 1 demonstrated emotionalmaturity (ibid), by controlling hisemotions of anger when a class mate kept throwing pieces of rubber at him. Thiscontrasts to Child 2, who didn’t conceal her emotions of happiness when she wasplaced next to her best-friend during group work. Lindon (2016, p.115) states that, ‘ensuringchildren’s secure emotional development is arguably, the most important role ofan early years’ practitioner’.
Lindon (2016), emphasis the mere importanceof emotional wellbeing and healthy development and demonstrates the resultanteffects it can have on a child’s learning, if not developed sufficiently.Therefore, emotional development is crucial to a child’s learning. Culturaldevelopment is an important aspect of children’s learning and offers a childthe chance to view different aspects in learning from a wider perspective. Moyles (2015, p.
94) states that the most efficient teaching resourcesare, ‘resources that have the potential to chime with their lived, culturalexperiences’. One of the ways children learn is through referring back andrelating to past experiences they have partaken in, however, these experiencescan vary, depending on the child’s cultural background (Fawcatt, 2016). Children who speakEnglish as a second language and therefore, come from a multi-lingual backgroundare more likely to learn languages such as, French and German quicker thanchildren who have not due to their past experiences and cultural background(ibid).
Both Child 1 and 2 were from the same cultural background of WhiteBritish, so the effect cultural development had on children could not bemeasured or compared. However, as seen in appendix 2, Child 2 is more likely tolearn languages quicker then Child 1, due to her past experiences in French andher parental involvement in her learning. Moraldevelopment plays an imperative part in children’s development. Blades et al (2003, p.257) defined moraldevelopment as, ‘how we reason or judge, whether an action is right or wrong’.The theorist Hopkins (2017, p.431) agrees with Bladeset al and states it is as ‘a framework for making decisions about how to treatone another’.
Psychologists such as Freud, believed that boys acquired theirmorality through the Oedipus complex and girls through the Electra complex (Shute, 2015). Kohlberg builds onthis way of thinking and suggests that there are three levels of morality;pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional (Blades et al, 2003). However, Kohlbergis criticised by many as his theory claims that all human beings willeventually reach the same level of morality and generalises the human race as awhole instead of individuals (Eaude,2008). Furthermore, Kohlberg’stheory fails to acknowledge that individual human beings have a range ofdifferent moral views and what is morally right or wrong. Other theorists suchas, Piaget offered another approach to the stages of moral development.
Piagetstated that there are three stages of morality; Amoral, Heteronomous andAutonomous morality (Hopkins,2017). The first stage commencesbefore the child is four years old, the child has no awareness of rules, andunable to give any moral judgement (ibid). The second stage ranges from whenthe child is four till seven years of age, the child recognises that rules governedby authority are obligatory and recognise the consequences for immoral actions(ibid). The latter stage is from age ten onwards and the child recognises thatrules are not always fixed and can be negotiated and challenged, the childbecomes familiar that rules are set to regulate behaviour (ibid). Child 1 andchild 2 both demonstrated when asked a series of moral dilemmas that they wereboth in Piaget’s last stage of moral development. They determined this by ‘notsolely basing their moral judgements on the consequences of their actions alone'(Hopkins, 2017, p.
432). Both children considered the consequences of breaking arule as well, as the intention behind breaking it and whether it was morallyright. Moral development plays a major part in children’s learning as a whole.It encourages children to be independent in learning and to challenge incorrectbehaviour with logical thinking. A child’s moral development can be encouragedacross the wider curriculum through subjects such as RE and PSHE, where moraldilemmas are a common theme.
Therefore,moral development can be applied to all areas of children’s learning. Inconclusion, it is apparent that all areas of child development are crucial tochildren’s learning as a whole and can influence learning substantially. Collectively;physical, intellectual, linguistic,social, cultural, emotional and moral development all link to each other andtherefore, are dependable on each aspect to make children’s learning effective.The holistic nature of children’s development has been explored and studiedthrough concise observations and wider reading.