Child Development Theories and ExamplesChild Development Theories: A Background Theories of development provide aframework for thinking about human growth and learning.
But why do we studydevelopment? What can we learn from psychological theories of development? Ifyou have ever wondered about what motivates human thought and behaviour,understanding these theories can provide useful insight into individuals andsociety.The following are just a few ofthe many child development theories that have been proposed by theorists andresearchers. More recent theories outline the developmental stages of childrenand identify the typical ages at which these growth milestones occur.Piaget’s Cognitive Developmental Theory Theorist Jean Piaget suggested one of the mostleading theories of cognitive development. His cognitive theory seeks todescribe and explain the development of thought processes and mental states. Italso looks at how these thought processes influence the way we understand andinteract with the world.
He believed that children take an active role in thelearning process. They act like little scientists as they perform experiments,make observations and learn about the world.He has done an observation of hisown nephew and daughter. These observations reinforced his budding hypothesisthat children mind were not just a smaller version of adult’s minds.Based on his observation, heconcluded that children were not less intelligent than adults, they simplythink differently. Furthermore, the older children do not thinkmore quickly than younger children.
In fact, they grow and develop through aseries of stages.Piaget then proposed a theory ofcognitive development to account for the steps and sequence of children’sintellectual development.· The Sensorimotor Stage: A period of time betweenbirth and age two during which an infant’s knowledge of the world is limited tohis or her sensory perceptions and motor activities. Behaviours are limited tosimple motor responses caused by sensory stimuli.· The Preoperational Stage: A period between ages2 and 6 during which a child learns to use language. During this stage,children do not yet understand real logic, cannot mentally handle informationand are unable to take the point of view of other people.· The Concrete Operational Stage: A period betweenages 7 and 11 during which children gain a better understanding of mentaloperations. Children begin thinking logically about real events, but havedifficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts.
· The Formal Operational Stage: A period betweenage 12 to adulthood when people develop the ability to think about mentalconcepts. Skills such as logical thought, logical reasoning, and systematicplanning also emerge at this stage. ResultPiaget cognitivedevelopment theory was a progressive recognition of mental process as a resultof biological maturation and environmental experience.Bowlby’s Attachment Theory (1907 – 1990) Bowlby believed that earlyrelationships with caregivers play a major role in child development andcontinue to influence social relationships throughout life.
Bowlby’s attachment theorysuggested that children are born with an inbuilt need to form attachments. Suchattachments help in survival by ensuring that the child receives care andprotection. He believed Babies are born with the tendency to display certainnatural behaviours, which help ensure closeness and contact with the mother.(e.g., crying, smiling, crawling, etc.
)Researchers have also stretchedupon Bowlby’s original work and have suggested that a number of differentattachment styles exist. Children who receive consistent support and care aremore likely to develop a secure attachment style, while those who receive lessreliable care may develop an uncertain or disorganised style.Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1930)Social learning theory is basedon the work of psychologist Albert Bandura. According to Bandura sociallearning theory, behaviours can also be learned through observation and modelling.By observing the actions of others, including parents and peers, childrendevelop new skills and acquire new information. Bandura’s child developmenttheory suggests that observation plays a critical role in learning, but thisobservation does not necessarily need to take the form of watching a livemodel. Instead, children can also learn by listening to verbal instructionsabout how to perform behaviour as well as through observing either real orfictional character display behaviours in books or films.
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural TheoryAnother psychologist named LevVygotsky proposed an inspiring learning theory that has gone on to become very important,especially in the field of education. Like Piaget, Vygotsky believed thatchildren learn actively and through hands-on experiences. His socioculturaltheory also suggested that parents, peers and the culture at large wereresponsible for developing higher achievements. According to Vygotsky, childrendevelop their language through play, for example, children have dialogues withthemselves when they engage in imaginative play. Role-playing meanscreating a story and giving a voice to the different characters in thestory.
When children imitate others, they are developing a vocabularythat allows them to name and navigate the world around them. Less verbalchildren may talk more during imaginative play than in other settings. Healso believes children copy adults for instance, wash your hand then childrepeats the same sentence.Jerome Bruner(1915- 2016)Bruner’s research was regardinglanguage and cognitive development and educational psychology during(1950-1960). He issued the concerned including racism, class, and poverty andtheir impact on cognitive ability and educational outcomes. Discussing some ofhis work concerning about social class and role of education he draws theconclusion “the education systems affect the way if maintaining a class system,a group at the bottom. It disables the capacity of children in the lowest socioeconomicquarter of the population to participate at full power in society, and did soearly and effectively.
Bruner was also concerned with the equality ofopportunity and his work was to ensure inequality in early years. He alsoconsiders the factors which affect the disadvantaged backgrounds children to dowell/achieve compare to the advantage children.Susan Isaacs, (1885-1948)Isaacs had a passionate belief inthe place of nursery education in society. She felt that attending a nurseryschool should be a natural part of a child’s early life: ‘Experience has shownthat it can be looked upon as a normal institution in the social life of anycivilised community’. The early years setting was a place that should bothmirror the family through love and warmth, as well as offering new and excitingopportunities and resources that might not be available at home. Isaacs wasclear that ‘the nursery school is an extension of the function of the home, notan alternate for it’. Above all, the nursery settingprovided social experiences and friendship that Isaacs believed were vital to achild’s development.
She planned the Melting House School carefully. Where shethinks indoor space and resources stimulate learning, she kept the variety ofresources such as art and craft, dressing up, blocks, typewriter, like the MontessoriSchool. The tables, chairs were designed to the lower level for the child’s ease.There were rugs and mattress to comfort/quiet play and rest. She underlines therole of the adult’s in the nursery to provide the resources and activities toplay. She was determined that children learn and express their feeling,emotions through play which was a vital part of a child’s emotional and socialdevelopment.Maria Montessori (1870-1952)The Montessori Method is anapproach to education which underlines individuality and independence inlearning.
Her interests were more practical than theoretical. A centralcomponent of Montessori’s theory is the concept of the sensitive period. Forexample,” if a child is prevented from enjoying these experiences at the verytime when nature has planned for him to do so, the special sensitivity whichdraws him to them will vanish, with a disturbing effect on the development. Heridea was to give a child the freedom of play and choice, to observe theirinterests and increase their confidence and self-esteem. She prepared teacherand assistant to create the class room’s environment and observant mind. She also believes that children make mistakesand adults approach should be positive; for example, if a child spills thewater on the floor, then calmly recognise his mistake ohh you spills water onthe floor, let’s clean it together with a cloth. Instead, of making them feeluncomfortable by Montessori classrooms for children from 2½ or 3 to 6 years oldare often called Children’s Houses, a typical classroom serves 20 to 30 childrenin the mixed-age group. To engage the learning in the class room was full ofthe practical material such as washing up, scrubbing tables, pouring, mathmaterial, cultural material, music and arts.
McMillian(1859-1917)The core of the educationalphilosophy of the MacMillan sisters was the importance of health. Like RobertOwen, they observed that deprived working and living conditions for poor cause,long–term health problems. They visit many schools they showed that factorssuch a poor nutrition’s, lack of hygiene, poor sanitation and living in a dampcondition harmful to a child’s health.
As a result of living in poverty,the MacMillan sisters firmly believed that children could not expect to learneffectively, due to the chronic health issues. Together they open a nursery andchildren’s centre which has core policies and procedures that are still greatlyinfluenced by its pioneers, for example, ‘Cold and outdoor policy.’ They alsosuggested the role of play and outdoor learning in the curriculum and itsimportance.B.
F Skinner(1905-1990)Like Watson, Skinner was a strictbehaviourist. He believed psychology should distribute with any reference e tointangible mental states such as goals, desires, or purpose. Skinner alsobelieved that an operant behaviour, in comparison to respondent behaviour,plays a much greater role in human life. E.g. when we brush our teeth, drive acar or read a book, our behaviour automatically inspired by a specificstimulus.
Another example is if a girl calling a Stanger on the street Da-Daher parents must now teach her to make her a finer discrimination. They mightsay”, that’s right”, when she says Da Da in the presence of her father, but notwhen she looks at any other man.Abraham Maslow (1943 – 1954)The Maslow theory on child’sdevelopment suggested the five stages are typically shown as a pyramid. On thebasic level, biological and physiological needs must first be met before thechildren can advance to any other level. The basic level they just need, milk,food, sleep, warmth, shelter. Once a child’s initial needs are met, they may bemore aware of their additional needs at this stage. On the second level, theyneed safety, security, protection freedom from fear.
Next, they need love,friendship and the sense of belonging,Furthermore, he said the fourthstage esteem revolves around children’s needs to gain independence,self-respect or successes. This is where children benefit from being praisedfor their work or being able to do something on their own, like tie their shoesor eat their snack.Noam Chomsky (1960s -) Noam Chomsky believes thatchildren are born with a natural ability to learn any human language. He claimsthat certain language structures which children use so accurately must bealready printed on the child’s mind. Chomsky believes that every child has a’language acquisition device’ which converts the major principles of a languageand its grammatical structures into the child’s brain. Children have then onlyto learn new vocabulary and apply the acceptable structures from to formsentences.
Chomsky suggested that a child could not possibly learn a languagethrough imitation alone because the language spoken around them is highlyirregular – adult’s speech is often broken up and even sometimes ungrammatical. Chomsky’s theory applies to all languages asthey all contain nouns, verbs, consonants and vowels and children appear to be’hard-wired’ to develop the grammar. Every language is extremely complex, oftenwith indirect dissimilarities which even native speakers are unaware of.However, all children, regardless of their intellectual ability, become fluentin their native language within five or six years.SummaryAs from above research I havenoticed that some of psychology’s best-known thinkers have developed theoriesto help explore and explain different aspects of child development.
While notall of these theories are fully accepted today, they all had an importantinfluence on our understanding of child development. Today, contemporarypsychologists draw on a variety of theories and perspectives in order tounderstand how the children grow, behave, and think. These theories represent just afew of the different ways of thinking about child development. In reality, tounderstand how children change and grow over the path of childhood requireslooking at many different factors that influence physical and psychologicalgrowth. For example Genes, the environment, Culture and the interactions withother children/adults and how the children grow physically as well as mentally.