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More Often Than Not We Hear People

More often than not we hear people commenting on things that children say and do, without having much regard to the child’s cognitive skills, coordination physical traits (height, weight, appearance), or even the manner in which they interact with their peers. These are all factors that contribute to a child’s development. The child development process “can include everything from sensory awareness and fine motor skills to language and socialization ability” (Psychology Today, 2018). Every child experiences various physical, emotional and personal development depending on their age. While that is the case, there are various factors that influence a child’s development such as genetics, nurture, or even nature (environment). During a visit to a child care center, I was able to observe various features of child development.

There were about 15 children at the day care, when I got there. All of the kids seemed to well manner and somewhat content, but there was one child in particular that peeked my interest; I later learned that her name is Jennine. Jennine is a 21-month-old girl who is active in the playing field. I observed her in the playground as she interacted with other peers and other children. She had a normal height for a child of her age. Her health seemed as normal as that of a child her age, as far as I could tell by just looking at her. She did not seem to have any complications or physical developmental issues. She actively participated in sporting activities, often following other children as they moved around the playground. She particularly enjoyed activities that allowed her to run around the playground, even if there was no particular direction. Her weight seemed normal for a child who was as active as she was. Studies show that active children tend not to be overweight. However, she was also not under-weight, and her active demeanour indicated that she was healthy.

Jennine was noticeably able to coordinate her movements and balance. She could easily get off the ground after falling and continue enjoying the activities. Her body was stable, and even if she stumbled quite often, she did not fall every time she stumbled. When she fell, she quickly and independently got off the ground without requiring any help. Her motor coordination was further supported by the fact that she could grasp items at the playground and carry them with no difficulty. She enjoyed picking up brightly colored things from the ground, indicating that she had good coordination of eye-hand movement. While most of the movements involved running, she demonstrated an ability to walk in a stable and coordinated manner when she walked (CHOC Children’s, 2018). Jennine had developed a strong sense of independence, and she did not seem perturbed by playing away from her parents or caregivers, who seemed to give her space. However, she would often look around for the caregivers, showing a sense of finding security in their presence, whenever she did not see them, she would stand and look around confused and only get back to play when she saw them.

Jennine was easily distracted by noises (cheers, laughs or crying) from other children. Whenever another child shouted or screamed, she would look in the direction of the noise with excitement. This appeared to be a conditioned response as she seemed to associate noises from other children with an exciting activity as she would look at the direction of the noise excitedly or sometimes she would even run to the area where she heard the noise. At times she would stay there and join the screaming but often times I noticed she would come back to what she was doing before the scream. This further indicated that she had a strong perception of sound and direction as she would look follow the noise. The conceptual representation of excitement noises and play seems to have been a part of her development as she would also indulge in the screams whenever she was excited or whenever she wanted to express her joy.

Furthermore, I also observed her interaction with other children, and here, she demonstrated an inability to share items with other children. She did not share her items and would often snatch things away from other children, indicating that she may not have been familiar with the concept of sharing. Whenever other children would deny her things, she would try to fight them off or start throwing a tantrum. While she wanted to play with the other children, it seemed like she didn’t want them to use or play with what she believed was “hers”. Although, I didn’t understand this at first, I later learned that she was an only child, which explains why she exhibited a lack of ability to share. On the contrary when the staff explained to her that she needed to share if she wanted to stay in the playground, she nodded her head as if she believed that it was a reasonable request. Once the staff spoke to her, though she was reluctant at first, she was able and more willing to share with the other children.

Notably, whenever she picked something up, she would show a keen interest in it for a couple of minutes before losing interest or getting distracted by something else. However, when another child showed interest in what she had lost interest in, she would suddenly develop an interest in it again. This sense of selfishness shows that she has not been training with the concept of sharing and taking turns, but she listened when she was told that that behavior was unacceptable.

Jennine had a good development of speech and language as she could string along words to express herself and she understood when others spoke to her. She could communicate with other children, issue commands and follow commands in guided play. She demonstrated an ability to pay attention to the person guiding play within the playground and was able to follow simple commands of the direction of movement or actions. Notably, she enjoyed affirmation as she would look excited whenever the person guiding the play clapped for her. Jennine would also show off new activities to her care givers and she got excited and encouraged whenever she noticed that they were watching her or cheering her on (CHOC Children’s, 2018). At times, she would get upset when she noticed that the staff weren’t noticing what she was doing. It was evident that she was accustomed to always being noticed and acknowledged. Thus, she seemed to have been conditioned to get applause for her actions and actively looked for this whenever she was playing. Again, this can be attributed to the environment she was brought up as an only child. As an only child in the household, she gets undivided attention from both her parents, she expects to receive that same level of attention at the day care.

I noticed she had remarkable motor skills. She could comfortably threw items, and she seemed to have been left-handed as she used the left hand to pick items off the ground, grasp on places in the playing field and generally used the left hand more than the right hand. She also knew the differences between girls and boys as she could be heard referring to a boy as he and a girl as she while pointing. Notably, she enjoyed group plays more than independent play as she actively sought out and participated in group activities. She could also pick out children her age and tended to gravitate towards those who were her height and played games that involved running. Her sense of independence could also be observed in the way she organized other children for group activities. For example, I observed her asking other children to hold hands and jump around the playing field as they were playing a game. This indicated that she had the ability to conceptualize simple activities of play and perceive order and coordination of simple activities (CHOC Children’s, 2018). She seemed to interact well with both her peers and the staff at the day care center.

During my visit to the day care center, I was able to learn a considerable amount about child development. There were various age groups at different development levels at the day care center. While the younger children were just learning how to walk on their own and sounding out single syllable words, the older children were more cognitive and profound in the language skills, and they had better hand and feet coordination.

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.