Child development is divided into four areas of development; social / emotional, physical (motor), cognitive, and language. Typically children develop in a sequence of stages in each area. Although development normally follows the same series of stages, there are individual differences in what age each stage occurs. Development in part depends on the experiences a child encounters. According to Wardle (2004), young children learn from their total experience in a program. For example, children not only learn during teacher directed activities, they also learn while playing in interest areas, on the playground, while riding the bus, or during meals. Vygotsky saw the child as part of an active social world in which communication with others and self speech help the child understand the world around him/her. (Lefton, 2000). Another area that is crucial to a child’s development is the involvement of the child’s parent is his or her education. In order to be an effective teacher one must have a general understanding of all areas of development, the role the parents have in a child’s education, the importance of play on the child’s success, and the role the teacher plays in all of this.
Physical (Motor) Development
Physical development proceeds from head downward and from the body outward. An infant develops control of the head first. In the next few months, the infant will be able to use their arms to lift themselves up. Between six and twelve months, the infant is able to crawl, stand, or walk as they gain control of the legs. Movement dominates the first year of toddlerhood. beginning with the skills he / she develops as an infant. During this period, toddlers become very mobile and skilled. The child is on the move at all times though still clumsy and uncoordinated.
As children’s bodies become more streamlined and less top-heavy, their center of gravity shifts downwards toward the trunk. As a result, balance improves greatly, paving the way for new motor skills involving large muscles of the body. (Berk, 1999) During the preschool years until approximately age seven, fundamental motor skills develop including the locomotor skills needed to run, jump, hop, and skip. Also the object control skills such as throwing, catching, and kicking are developing. By the age of six or seven, children begin to integrate two or more of these skills. Though all children will not develop these skills at the same age, they will follow the same sequence.
During the early childhood period, environments should be organized to promote motor development. During toddlerhood the environment should be organized to allow the toddler space to explore and move. Confining the child to a limited space such as a playpen could result in a delay in their large motor skills. (Charlesworth, 2004) The environment for the preschooler should be conducive to learning these skills. ...