Child Observation



Thisstudy utilizes psychological development theories to evaluate childdevelopment with case observation of a Montessori teacher observationvideo. In this context, development refers to subsequent andage-associated changes that occur throughout a human being’s life.Based upon various studies, the study borrows concepts from renownedpsychologists such as Lawrence Kohlberg, Sigmund Freud, Jean Piagetand Erik Erikson who concur with the fact that development occurs indifferent stages over a long period. Subsequently, researchersindicate that humans exhibit particular characteristics at eachdevelopmental stage of life. Amid the fact that differentpsychologists developed varied development theories, the philosophiesclaim that the development occurs in a given order and the next stateenhances the strengths that an individual learned on the previousphase. On the same note, the characteristics of each stage aredetermined by the child’s age, with the development occurringintermittently since children display distinct capabilities at eachphase.

Basedupon Montessori concepts and backed by other theoretical conceptsthis study indicates the fact that parents, teachers and other peopleinvolved in child development have the crucial role of creating aprogram tailored to the capability of individual kids under theircare. The various theories outlined in this study include Bandura’sSpecial Learning, Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development,Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory, Lev’s Sociocultural Theory, Eric’sEmotional and Psychological Development Theory based upon SigmundFreud’s Psychoanalytic study. The process of gathering developmentinformation is essential, and caretakers can enjoy the challengingexperiences through embracing them and coming up with interventionsaimed at positively impacting in the child’s growth anddevelopment. In order to evaluate children’s requirements duringdevelopment, the essay information is based on observational datafrom two eighteen months’ children that are working on trays. Bothbabies have access to given dishes placed in a tray within a separateroom from the rest of the classroom. The aim of conducting thisobservational case study is determining physical, psychological andemotional development of the children displayed in the video usingestablished development theory.

Thecase being analyzed revolved around a video recording by a Montessoriteacher on two young kids carrying out different tasks. She isactively involved in teaching infants ranging between one and threeyears. The film features two eighteen months’ old boys, and forpurposes of identification, the boy sitting on the right-hand side,wearing a green t-shirt will be identified as John. Further, the boysitting on the left-hand side, and wearing a blue t-shirt will bePeter. Both boys have been given the responsibility of taking turnsin emptying contents from one bowl to another or fixing some plasticcontainers on a pole. Besides, the boys understand that they aresupposed to pick the trays, sit at the table, complete the assignedtasks and then return them to the cupboard. However, Johnoccasionally cries when his tray cannot be in its right position. Theboy is not patient and constantly seeks attention and assistancerather than concentrating and engaging in critical thinking whichwould resolve the impending challenge. From the video, Peter is muchattentive and not just pre-occupied with his task, but also observesthe problem encountered by his peer and assists in placing the trayin the right position. In order to avoid being biased, the teacherrecorded the activities remaining at a distant from the children’sactivities, with the exception of certain instances when sheintervenes to call the attention of John to be patient when he seemedinterested with Peter’s tray that he was working with. The teachertakes the responsibility of letting John know that he has to bepatient for Peter to complete the task. Albeit, the teacher remainsaloof until the child receives support from his colleague. In linewith Stanley (1996: 11), it is evident that the observer has insiderskills in handling children, as well as making them feel comfortable.The primary benefit of this study is to enable the investigator comeup with firsthand raw data from situations in a natural environment.Since the researcher uses either direct cognition or immediateawareness as the primary research method, authenticity and validityof data collected through this process is higher compared to datasources acquired through inferential or mediated process (Oliver,2010: 17).The research is structured as the investigator has alreadyidentified specific tasks that children are supposed to carry out.Once a child completes his task, he is supposed to return the tray inthe cupboards and take another tray with different tools of task.

Oncritically evaluating the video when Peter makes a mistake or facesa challenging situation in the middle of conducting his assignment,he exclaims, “Ohh! Ooh!” and then looks for a solution to theissue without crying or attempting to look out for third partyassistance. For example, when some of the plastics he is fixing on apole cannot pass through because it had only one hole, he exclaimswithout getting upset. He then puts the plastic down and continuessearching for other plastics that can fit. As opined by Rethom(2009), this displays a critical level of thinking from the child. Itis also evident that Peter displays independent thinking and highknowledge because he begins scooping the contents of the first plateto the second after realizing the spoon was not working effectively.At some point, he even took the contents in plate one and drained theentire contents in the second plate. John struggles to transfercontents of plate one to plate two because he is unable to scooplarge contents from the first bowl into the emptying container. Peteris exploratory as he even attempts using one bowl to scoop thecontents of the other bowl. When he realizes that his plan isimpossible, he decides to scoop the contents using his bare palms asthe hands could collect larger amounts of contents at a go than aspoon. This portrays an assertive perspective to the childdevelopment in the sense that he is able to explore and come up withsolutions to the situations at hand (Rethom 2009). Throughout thetest, Peter appears composed and self-confident in everything hedoes. He works at a slower pace than John does, but he ensures thathe has done his work perfectly. He does not care whether someone iswatching or if his colleague has completed the task in such giventime.

Thestudy utilizes observation to come up with data necessary to come upwith conclusive findings meeting the study objectives. However, theobservation data collection method has substantial drawbacks like theinability to generalize findings, lack of control over significantvariables and inability to duplicate similar research due to lack ofevidence (Mertens &amp Ginsberg, 2009: 16). To enhance datacollection accuracy, various literature sources offering detaileddescription of the research method have been utilized. The Center forLearning Innovation (2006) summarizes a variety of developmenttheories invented by renowned researchers. The main fields addressedin the research expound on the behavioral traits of children duringdevelopment in respect to psychological and emotional development,cognitive development, and language development, physical and socialdevelopment. This brings out the unique disparities observed betweenthe two children in the case study. The outlined information from thebooks makes it easy to compare and understand children’spsychological and physical development at given ages.

Inorder to understand the characteristics of the babies in the casestudy better, this essay will utilize child development theory toexplain the development process. The theories are philosophiesdeveloped by numerous psychologists. Each theory is significant as itprovides a platform for understanding concepts that caretakers canuse to enhance children’s learning or development convenience. Theprinciples are also applicable to hospitals and counseling sessionsas they assist professionals to understand psychological developmentof individual children (Center for Learning Innovation, 2006: 61).

SurreyCounty Council (2012) incorporates an analysis of the requirements ofa child development. From the literature, it is evident that eachchild calls for a unique care tailored to suit their needs, due tothe fact each child has diverse needs and their cognitive levels varyconsiderably as depicted by John and Peter in the case analysis. Thetarget population for the book includes parents and other caretakersby providing them with detailed information they can use when takingcare of children. The document contains observation records of childdevelopment from infancy to adolescents. Hall and Forman (2005)claims that the interpretation, observation and documentation ofchildren’s strategies, theories and goals, instructors can haveexcellent understanding of the way children think. The book’sinformation is valuable as it enables teachers to incorporateinvestigations and conversations that have feasibility to enhancestudents’ breadth and depth. Through the use of short videos withboth adults and children, Hall and Forman (2005) discusses andoutlines relevant observational aspects necessary for theintroduction and understanding of the videative concept as anefficient source for analyzing and revisiting documentedobservations.

DevelopmentMatters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (2012) focuses onstrategies that practitioners involved in handling children can useto provide them with the right foundation. The United NationsConvention stipulates that every child have a right to accesseducation that enhances their abilities, personalities and talents inspite of their family background, ethnicity, home language, religionand culture, gender, disabilities and learning difficulties. Thestudy brings out the concept of utilizing efficient approaches to beused by teachers to come up with an appropriate ways of designing asuitable education curriculum to suit the needs of every student. Asindicated by the children in the case study, each child has a varyinglevel of understanding, concentration and cognition of the situationssurrounding them.

ScottishGovernment (2009) offers an efficient approach to investigatecharacteristics of young children and babies with the intention ofenhancing their learning capability. The literature asserts thatobservation method enhances learning activities, experiences androutine training as teachers have better understanding of thestudents’ requirements. In order to offer quality education andskills, there is need to comprehend the unique needs of every child.In addition, the study claims that educators can understand academicrequirements of their students through observing children withouttheir knowledge. The process can be attained through setting a videocameras or just direct observation from a concealed position in orderto let a child explore his or her reasoning unhindered. The casestudy in the video clearly is in line with this study in the factthat the teacher observes the children from a distance and does notinterfere in the course of their tasks.

Toconclusive comprehend the behaviors of the children, the researchemployed theories that offer information for understanding certainchildren’s behaviors. Evaluating Bandura’s Social Learning orObservational Theory, where he conducted a series of experiments from1961 to 1963 using a Bobo doll to evaluate children’s behavior byobserving the reaction after punishing, or rewarding after thechildren faced no consequence after beating the doll. Banduraconcluded that children learn through both watching others beingpunished and rewarded (behaviorism), as well as when they arepunished or rewarded (observational learning) (Center for LearningInnovation, 2006: 61). In the case study video, John occasionallygets upset, when he cannot set his workstation effectively, and thenbegins crying. However, he is suddenly encouraged to focus on hiswork after realizing that the Peter his mate is composed and focusedon his duties. It is evident that if John was working in the tablealone, he would not have done the task conclusively as he would havegiven up. In addition, the teacher’s applause after the boyscompletes the first tasks motivates them to complete the secondassignment due to the fact they feel encouraged and look forward tomore. Further, John continues with the assignment after the teacherencourages him to be patient. Similarly, they stop working on theirprojects only after the teacher congratulates them for completingtheir assignments. The complements function like a form of reward tothe children (Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage(EYFS), 2012: 48).

Lookingat Erik Erikson’s emotional and psychological development theory,it is based on Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic study. It assertsthat life is based on a series of biological and psychologicaldevelopment that occurs in a defined series. However, eachdevelopment phase has both negative and positive outcomes dependingon a child’s caregiving experiences and environment that childrenundergo (Center for Learning Innovation, 2006: 4). Erikson observedthat the acquisition of given functions at certain phases is notcompulsory to proceed to the subsequent stage, but the skippedcharacteristic could reappear in the future as a form ofcompensation. Erikson classified psychosocial development into eightdifferent stages. The development phases extend from birth to anindividual’s death at old age. The children in the case study videoare in the first psychosocial development phase as it begins at birthand ends at about two years. This phase is significant becauseinfants are mainly contesting between trust and mistrust. If theprimary caregiver, the mother, exposes the child to desirablecomfort, affection, warmth and regularity, a baby develops confidencetowards the world. Observable characteristics of children that havesuccessfully passed through this stage include happiness and desireto explore new things. Besides, children are playful, even withstrangers (Erikson, 1994: 11). In the Montessori tray work case studyvideo, both children under observation portrays positivepsychological development. For example, Peter confidently completeshis assignment without seeking assistance from neither the teachernor his fellow pupil. In line with Erikson’s theory of psychosocialdevelopment, it asserts that infants that have acquired trust as aresult of being exposed in the desired environment at early stagesare inquisitive and confident. Both children in this study portrayassertive and inquisitive characteristics. For example, Peter stopsusing his spoon to empty the contents of the first bowl into thesecond container as instructed, and resolves to use his bare palm toempty the content into the other bowl. Erikson’s psychosocialdevelopment theory also noted that encouraging children instead ofridiculing them at early ages make them bold and intelligent, justlike the boys in the case study video (Welchman, 2000: 31).

EvaluatingJohn Bowlby’s attachment theory it associates emotional andpsychological development of children and parents’ relationship totheir ability to develop social behaviors. Children are stated ashaving natural behaviors that encourage both parents and significantothers to maintain close ties with them. Some of theproximity-seeking characteristics included crying, laughing andgurgling. It is evident from the video on given instances when theboys cries or exclaims seeking attention or expressing displeasurewith progress of the task. The theory claims that the parent-childattachment develops gradually, and the regular caregivingresponsibilities children and parents experience determine that rateof growth of the relationship (Center for Learning Innovation, 2006:4).Attachment theory concludes that children that have developedclose ties with their caregivers tend to seek assistance for doingalmost everything. For example, John wails loudly to attract theteacher’s attention whenever he needs assistance for simple taskslike placing his tray in position. In addition, both boys blendexcellently at their workstation. Both boys in the video are composedand focused on their respective tasks. For example, John appears tobe attached to the teacher because he begins wailing immediately heexperiences little challenges. He looks towards the teacher expectingassistance. On the contrary, Peter seems indifferent and focused onthe tasks ahead of him. He appears disconnected to the teacher andany other person. He mainly depends on his personal knowledge tosolve his challenges (Haggerty et al., 1997: 110).

Inaddition, Peter portrays a high level of self-esteem andassertiveness depicted by the determination to explore and try newtechniques aimed at completing his task of emptying the content ofone bowl to the other. As a matter of facts, he tries three newapproaches that include emptying the contents using his bare hand,using the other bowl to scoop the entire contents in the second bowland draining the stuff in the second bowl into the first one.According to Erikson, infants that are exposed to desirable growthenvironment during the first two years tend to be exploratory andshow high critical thinking capability (Fedrizzi et al., 1994: 89).Therefore, the caregiver in charge of baby Peter is supposed to bevigilant because he is likely to touch or do something that may puthis life in danger. For instance, he may touch poisonous things orengage in actions that may cause severe injury while attempting toremain creative. It therefore means children with such confidence andoutgoing nature call for more care and observation at a distance forsafety purposes (Haith, 1994: 67). It is also evident from the videothat the kids are not emotionally attached to their caregivers. Theymost often engage in critical thinking than their colleagues whodesperately wait upon their caregivers to solve their problems (Light&amp Littleton, 1999: 44). For instance, boy Peter remains composed,confident and capable of solving even simple tricky situation such asarranging trays that his colleague appeared incapable ofaccomplishing

Reviewof Mary Ainsworth’s attachment theory focuses on emotional andpsychological development on positive association between childrenand mothers. The characteristics of children determine if they areemotionally attached or detached. For example, children with stableemotional development can freely associate with strangers and explorefurther world than their parents explore. Conversely, emotionallyunstable children are reluctant to explore the outside world or eveninteract with strangers in a social environment (Center for LearningInnovation, 2006: 4). Mary concluded that observable behaviors andreaction of a child in the presence of a stranger is adequate todetermine a child’s relationship with his or her parent (Isaacson,2006: 6). For example, both boys in the case study appear they havesecure attachment since they explore the given responsibility in theabsence of their caregivers. None of them appears upset because theyare in a location where only two of them are doing a given task.

Accordingto Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children developthrough four stages. The first phase is “sensorimotor” wherebabies explore the world using their five senses and movement. Duringthis development phase, children are so egocentric such that theycannot perceive the world from another individual’s perspective.Infants aged between zero and eighteen months are classified in thisclass, which in turn contains six sub stages (Piaget &amp Warden,2009: 49). Piaget’s assertion is evident in the case study videobecause each child focuses on his work. Each is assigned a differenttask: at one instance Peter emptying the contents of a bowl intoanother while in John inserts plastics in a small pole however,everyone accomplishes the assigned duty independently (Piaget &ampInhelder, 1969: 21). For example, John used a spoon as the instructorhad directed them to empty the contents in the bowl to the second onewhile Peter picks up the bowl and empties the entire content into theother at once. It is critical to note that Peter and John are atdifferent cognitive development stages despite that both of them areeighteen months. At Piaget’s “Sensorimotor” fifth developmentalphase, he claimed that babies portray curiosity, circular reactionsand novelty (Calloway, 2001: 66). For instance, Peter resolves toscoop the content of the bowl with the other instead of emptying thecontents using the provided spoon. In addition, he beginstransferring the substance of the bowl to the other using his barepalm after he discovered that it was impossible to use another bowlto transfer the contents of one container into the other. On theother hand, John cognitive development appears to be still inSensorimotor stage four (Bringuier &amp Piaget, 1980: 114). At thisphase, children are able to coordinate secondary routine actionseffectively. Besides, individuals have the capacity for combining andrecombining schemata effectively in order to accomplish a givenobjective. This implies that they understand how to use givenobjects, but originality of ideas is still small (Piaget, 2007: 16).John understands that he is supposed to empty the contents of thebowl into the other, but his mind is restricted to using the providedspoon despite that it is challenging him. This contradicts with Peterwho realizes that using a spoon is quite challenging, and he resolvesto use his hand and even emptying the whole content into the otherbowl (Piaget, 2001: 8).

Onthe other hand, Lev Vygotsky sociocultural theory claims that thecognitive development and knowledge of children mainly depends ontheir association with the adults. He stressed that children’scognitive knowledge developed quickly when they associate with peersthat are more knowledgeable and adults. This theory is mainly commonin education environment where bright students are placed in the samework groups with the academically challenged students so that theycan acquire the desired learning support (Lloyd &amp Fernyhough,1999: 47). In line with this argument, it is evident from the casestudy how Peter who appears of higher cognitive level assists andinfluences John in the course of their different tasks. Vygotsky’stheory concludes that the cognitive development of children isenhanced when they interact with adults and peers that are moreknowledgeable than they are. On the contrary, I refute the premise ofthe philosophy because it is my belief that children are explorativein nature. Their curiosity encourages them to explore new and variousthings in their environment using different approaches. Provided achild is in a positive environment, where they are free to exploretheir novelty, their knowledge can grow substantially (Lloyd &ampFernyhough, 1999: 29).

Inconclusion, it is evident that the development of a child involves acontinuous process that is determined and affected by various factorswith psychological aspects positively affecting the overall outcome.It is a process that occurs in a defined series resulting tocognitive and behavioral outcomes in the life of a child. Based onvarious theoretical studies backing the case study on a Montessoriteacher, the behavioral development of a child is unique and callsfor significant steps in developing an educational curriculum to fitthe development of a child and improve their cognitive level. Parentsand caregivers alike contribute to a great extent in the developmentof a child due to the fact they understand the challenges facing thechild, in their environment (Piaget, 2007). On the same note,children rely on senior people around them for guidance orassistance. Positive assistance is necessary for the child in orderto ensure that their knowledge development is enhanced. The varioustheories evaluated in the essay create a continuum of conceptsnecessary in the improvement of early childhood development andeducation through curriculum and behavioral development. Through theuse of observation research methods, teachers, parents and otherrelevant people in the life of a child can be able to influencepositive development through guidance and offering assistance. Thishelps in analyzing behavior patterns of the children and then delvedeeper into comprehending the probable reasons for given behavioraltraits by children in their early life. Thus, through criticalreflection of the child’s behaviors and interaction with others, aparent or teacher can make out their cognitive levels and establisheffective ways for improvement.


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