How babies and children learn and develop
Babies and young children are learning from the moment they are born, and this process continues long into adolescence, the process of development involves a number of various aspects many of which are interlinked. As babies the way they develop begins with a relatively simple pattern of physical reflexes and growing moving onto a more complex and in-depth process as children grow and develop. Babies begin to use their inbuilt senses as soon as they reach the third trimester of pregnancy. Research suggests that a foetus can distinguish bright light from inside the womb, during the later weeks of pregnancy natural light can seep through the body for the foetus to be able to see their hand and feet movements (Developmental Psychobiology). It is also thought that during the last half of the pregnancy the unborn child has the ability to smell and hear from inside the womb.
Once babies are born they can distinguish between various adults through smell and can identify the comforting scent of their mother, new-born babies are known to be comforted by their mother’s scent, they can also feel a strong bond to their mother through touch as it gives them a sense of security. They also feel secure when they hear familiar sounds that they heard from inside the womb and can be comforted by music that the mother listened to during pregnancy. As babies develop their senses play a huge part in helping them develop, they will become more aware of their surroundings and will feel comforted by a loving environment. Their vision will improve, and they will begin to notice things like their hands and feet and how they move, they will also begin to recognise their parents faces and by the age of five months they can begin to notice objects and reach out for them. As baby’s progress onto early childhood their senses will be absorbing a huge amount of information and as they grow so will their senses and they will continue to be an invaluable asset to their learning and development.
Children learn and develop through continuous interaction and communication with those around them communication plays a fundamental part to children’s development, they need to learn how to understand and to be understood. Communication is the foundation for the development of relationships, social interaction and learning through play. Babies need interaction to be able to form attachments with their parents or carer, they will need to develop positive attachments to support their social and emotional development because they will need to have a feeling of security and protection as they grow and develop, this will help them feel reassured and loved. Babies and children will need to receive guidance and support from the adults as they develop. Giving children praise and encouragement will reinforce to them that they are loved and through providing guidance when they are in the wrong. Through modelling behaviour parents are teaching children the correct way to model aspects of behaviour and also things such as language and social interaction.
If parents are responsive to a child’s signals and have good communication with them it reassures them and helps them feel safe and secure. The attachment then underpins their learning and development and it helps children thrive. As parents talk and listen to their child, they learn how to interact socially which helps them develop and forging close connections with those around them. Children need positive interaction to be able to learn the normal ways of communicating and hold a ‘taking turns’ conversation, using eye contact and reading facial expressions. Children who have little interaction and have not developed their speech and language are at higher risk of developing difficulties with their reading, writing and spelling and if children struggle to communicate this could lead to them not being able to express their thoughts and could lead to frustration and behavioural difficulties.https://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/media/2147/all_together_now_-_section_2.pdf
All children who thrive and develop well are generally known have an environment of love and nurture and have developed close and dependable relationships with those they interact with, they can then go onto develop their leaning. Children’s experience of interactions in the first couple of years can go onto have implications on their ability to be accepted by their peers when they come to start nursery or school. Children who are confident around their peers and appear competent in building relationships with them at an early age are often accepted by them and thrive as learners. Children who are aggressive or negative are often rejected by their school peers and although aggression doesn’t necessarily mean they will be rejected this would make friendship building more challenging. Children that are suffering early emotional or behavioural problems can often be made to feel socially isolated by peer rejection, but if they can make early friendships or positive relations they are more likely to protected against any psychological problems in later life http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu
Children learn a vast amount from the relationships they build with those around them and through those relationships they develop social skills. Socialisation is a very important part of development and the children who do not have the opportunity to socialise could end up being isolated and withdrawn and may have trouble developing relationships, Socialisation begins after birth with the younger years being when the child absorbs the most information from those around them, children learn about all the various aspects of life through diverse socialisation, such as culture, manners, communication and language.
Informal socialisation is the part of learning takes place daily from the moment a child is born, they are continually learning from the people they meet and especially those they form attachments with. Playing alongside other children encourages informal socialisation as each child learns from the other as they share ideas and influence the opinions of the other child. Through role play they can copy actions of adults and other children and shape their own minds for the future. Formal socialisation is mainly carried out in formal setting such as a school or other learning environment, children learn through structured education and is controlled by the adults that surround them.
Play provides the underpinning activity to promote all aspects of effective teaching, learning and development. Through playing babies and children can develop their social and emotional skills, language skills, intellectual skills and creativity. For many children playing is a spontaneous and natural action that can take place anywhere at any time although other children may need adult support. Play is recognised as a fundamental part of the Early Years Foundation Stage and is also set down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Learning how to interact with other children, negotiating, listening, using imagination and sharing are all essential parts of learning though play.
Children can play in various ways for example, onlooker play is where children just observe other children playing but are still learning, solitary play is children playing alone, associative play is where children are playing and interacting together but are not necessarily playing the same games and cooperative play is where children are playing together in a structured way such as role play or hide and seek.
Playing can take place either outside or indoors and children learn from a vast array of different learning environments that they can discover, explore and show imagination. During play children learn about risk taking when playing on climbing frames or just general outdoor play, they learn a great deal from playing with natural resources too like a mud kitchen for example, they learn about touch and feel, imagination skills, mirroring parent’s activities in the kitchen and working together. Play can also be a useful tool to help parents and practitioners identify areas of weakness in a child’s development, so they can guide a child and provide activities to help them learn a new skill. The presence of an adult can open up another level of purposeful play, children may use the adult’s attention to try to do something they wouldn’t try on their own like using a climbing frame. Practitioners can also get an up-close view of how a child is developing in a certain area and can use this to plan more purposeful play in the future. Open ended play is a great way to open up a child’s imagination and get them to develop new ways of thinking about how else they can play within a particular activity or use a resource.
Resources are a great way to enhance children’s learning, it provides the vital tools to open up a world of activities and learning and play. Resources can be used to support the development of children as learn for example, practical materials such as building blocks, water, sand, mud kitchen, leaves and stones are all excellent for using during imaginative play as they provide children with the opportunity to build their imagination, promote physical development and could be linked to all the learning areas stated in the EYFS. Sometimes the use of a resource is clear for example, a doll and a pram, but this can still be used to promote learning in a number of areas. There are also a wide range of creative resources such as paint, pens crayons, all improve and develop literacy, maths, imagination skills and promote the development of fine and gross motor skills. Books and reading are a perfect way of getting children to develop their imaginations and encourage good communication and language skills and develop fine motor skills by learning how to turn pages. By providing resources using everyday objects such as carboard boxes and blankets, these can encourage children to be inventive and come up with new ideas of how to play together and come up with new ideas of games to play.
Theories and models of child development
Freud's Theory of Child Development
Sigmund Freud theorised that each stage of child development beginning at birth is directly related to their individual needs and demands. He based each stage on a particular part of the body and all stages are based around a sexual theme. It is important to understand that during the course of his work, the age ranges changed over time due to the fact that he acknowledged that development can vary from child to child and occasionally the stages overlapped. Freud also believed that the way in which parents handle and interact with their children has a “profound and lasting impact on the child’s development overall.” Through his work with people suffering from mental illness, Freud came to understand that experiences during childhood and the unconscious desires of children influenced their behaviour. Freud stated that conflicts that have occurred during any of the developmental stages can have an influence on a child’s personality and behaviour in later life. Freud stated that children’s personalities are created from three parts, the id, the ego and the superego, and as a child develops they are subconsciously influenced by experiences and events that happen. Freud’s theory focused on the relationship between the instinctive part of personality (id) and the superego or conscience which develops in later childhood.
According to Freud child development occurs in a series of stages that are focused on different areas of the body. During each stage children encounter conflicts that play a significant role in their development, this theory suggests that the energy of the child’s urges are focused on different zones at each specific stage and failure to progress through a certain stage effectively can result in children being fixed at that point in development, which he believed had an influence on behaviour as an adult. Whilst others believed experience was developed throughout life and can continue to grow and change, Freud believed it was the early experiences in life that played the most influential role in shaping development, he also believed that personality was largely established and set by the time the child was five.
Freud divided the stages of development into age bands ranging from birth to puberty. The first stage from birth to eighteen months he named the “oral stage” because he believed baby’s development at this young age was focused around the mouth for example, first nourishment and sucking reflexes. The second stage which he named the “anal stage” from age 18 months to three years because he believed that children derive pleasure from eliminating their faeces, this is also the time most children are potty trained. The next stage age three to six years was named the “phallic stage,” where Freud believed that children’s pleasure was focused on their genitals, he further stated that young boys develop unconscious feelings for their mothers and that they were in competition with their fathers for attention from the mother. This was followed by the “latency stage” from six years to the start of puberty, he seemed to view this stage of development the least complicated where he believed children were concentrating on their education and building friendships with children of the same gender.
Freud theorised that those children who transition smoothly through the stages grow to be well centred adults he said that unsuccessful completion of a certain stage meant that children would either under or over compensate for the other areas. Believers of Freud’s theories on child development try to make every effort to ensure children develop through each stage to ensure they grow into well rounded adults. With the development of research, Freud’s theory is not considered to be very accurate but is still considered important and influential because it was the first development theory that gained recognition, and many other theorists use it as a starting place. https://www.gulfbend.org
Erikson's Theory of Child Development
Erik Erikson was a German psychoanalyst whose theories were influenced by Freud he explored three areas of children’s identity, the ego or self-identity, the personal identity that distinguishes one person from another and the social or cultural identity which is based around the social roles people play. Psychoanalytic theory was very influential during the beginning of the twentieth century and those who were influenced by Freud went on to develop and expand on his ideas and develop theories of their own. One of those theorists was Erik Erikson’s whose ideas are well known. Erikson’s theory was created around eight stages of growth and change throughout life and focuses on how social interactions affects development.
Erikson’s eight-stage theory of development stated this was process from birth through to death and during each stage children and adults are faced with a “developmental conflict” that has an impact on how people function and grow throughout life. The first stage of development according to Erikson was birth to 18 months and is focused on basic trust versus mistrust which should give children hope, during this stage there is an emphasis on the parents nurturing ability and how babies develop and learn to trust their parents to care for them. He states, “if a child does not experience trust they could develop insecurity or mistrust on the world and could feel worthless.” The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years and focuses age 18 months to 3 years. This is the stage where children build on their self-esteem and learn new skills such as right from wrong, during this stage children go through” terrible twos” and tend have temper tantrum and stubbornness and occasionally experiencing shame (Autonomy vs shame = Will). During the third period age 3 to 5 children develop their initiative and creativity, they make up stories and games and begin to ask “why?”. Children also experience guilt during this stage and move into the next stage with a sense of purpose and an identification of their role socially.
The stage where children develop competence is from age 6 to 12 years when children are capable of creating things and learning new skills and as a result develop a sense of industry. Children are said to be very social during this stage and if children experience unresolved feelings they could develop problems with competence and self-esteem. As children start school they begin recognising other authorities apart from their parents and they begin to develop more meaningful friendships. The stages of development then move through to adolescence where children begin to develop a sense of personal identity while they struggle to find their role in the world and how to fit into society. https://www.learning-theories.com/eriksons-stages-of-development.html
Bowlby's Theory of Child Development
John Bowlby was a British psychoanalyst and he believed that mental health and behavioural problems are connected with our experiences in early childhood, Bowlby’s theory of evolutionary attachment suggested that babies are born “pre-programmed to form attachments with others,” this then helps them to survive. Bowlby thought that attachment behaviours are inbuilt and can be activated by conditions that seem to threaten the attachment such as separation. Bowlby said that attachments in early childhood are a crucial part of children’s development and lay the foundation for building relationship. The theory is that babies are born behaviours that help them to keep their primary caregiver close such as crying and smiling to encourage interaction and stimulate caregiving. Bowlby recognised that during the process of evolution it was babies that were close to their mother that survived long enough to have children of their own, he also thought that there was a built in stronger connection with babies and their mother throughout life. Bowlby initially suggested that children would only form one attachment and that attachment figure would act as a secure base for exploring the world and forming new relationships these would act as a basis for all social relationships in the future so if the attachment was broken it could have severe consequences. Bowlby concluded that separation or deprivation in the early stages of a child’s life could cause permanent emotional damage to a child.
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development explains how children construct a “mental model” of the world. He believed children did not think the same as adults do and he did not agree that intelligence was fixed and thought cognitive development was a process of development related to biology and interaction with the environment. He believed the way children learn and think is primarily influenced by their age and the stage of their cognitive development, he considered learning based on the experiences they have had as children and built upon later in life. As children develop he believed they adapt their beliefs as their experiences change for example, if a child has only ever seen green apples then that child will believe that all apples are green. As they develop children need to have extended experiences, so they can adapt and learn further. Once they get older children will take ownership of this themselves so that they can think about experiences that they have not yet developed. Piaget was the first psychologist to make a study of cognitive development, he created a stage theory of child cognitive development and detailed observational studies of cognition in children, before Piaget’s work, the assumption in psychology was children are just less competent thinkers than adults, but Piaget found that children think in very different way compared to adults. According to Piaget, children are born with the basic mental ability but his develops as they grow and learn
Piaget proposed there are four stages of cognitive development which reflect the sophistication of children’s thought they are, sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2), the re-operational stage (from age 2 to age 7), concrete operational stage (from age 7 to age 11) and the formal operational stage (age 11+ – adolescence and adulthood). He said each child develops through the stages in the same order, but there are differences in the rate a child may develop due to their social interaction and experiences and some children may never attain the later stages.
Piaget did not claim that children must reach a certain stage by the age specified they were simply a guide. The main objective of the first stage was to get children to acknowledge an object still exist even if they cannot see it, this was recognised as a schema. During the preoperational Stage (2-7 years) children needed to think about things in a symbolic way by making a word or object stand for something else. The Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years) which Piaget thought to be the major turning point in a child’s life because this is when they begin to think logically and figure things out in their head without having to see it physically, the formal Operational Stage (11 years and over) lasts into adulthood and it is when people test other people’s thoughts and opinions.
Bandura's Social Learning Theory
Bandura’s ‘modelling’ or ‘social learning’ theory stated children learn through observing other people rather than it being taught. Children can observe people around them behaving in various ways, this is identified in Bandura’s Bobo doll experiment. Individuals that children observe are known as models, these models in society surround children surrounded everywhere and can be anyone from parents to characters on the television and people they see in the street. These models can display a wide variety of behaviours that children can learn from and can be both good and bad, once children observe a behaviour they can store it in their memory and can imitate it at a later time. Bandura stated that there are a number of processes children need to go through to make their behaviour more appropriate in society.
Firstly a child is more likely to imitate behaviours that they perceive similar to themselves for example, the same gender, Secondly people around the child will respond to behaviour it deems appropriate or inappropriate with either punishment or reward, if a child receives a reward for displaying a certain behaviour it will continue to imitate it for example, if parents see their little child consoling a teddy bear and they say how kind they are, the child is more likely to repeat the behaviour because it has been reinforced. Reinforcement can be positive or negative and external or internal. If a child seeks approval from parents or peers then this approval is external but the feeling of being approved is internal, positive (or negative) reinforcement has little impact if the reinforcement does not match with an individual’s needs, but regardless whether the reinforcement is positive or negative it will create a change in behaviour. Thirdly children will observe what will happen to other people when they decide to copy someone’s actions they will also take this into account when deciding what to do next for example, if they see another child get rewarded for a certain action they may copy that child’s actions, this is known as vicarious reinforcement. Related to the attachment theory children will have identified with people the see as role models and identify with a particular quality they wish to imitate this is known as identifying. Identification is different to imitation as it could involve the child adopting only a certain number of behaviours whereas imitation only involves a single. Often Children copy adults and their peers without being encouraged or told to do so, meaning that the learning is spontaneous.
Vygotsky's Sociocultural Cognitive Theory
Lev Vygotsky proposed a theory named the sociocultural cognitive theory and is has gone on to become very influential in the field of education, like Piaget, Vygotsky believed children learn actively and through hands-on experiences. Vygotsky’s main assumption was that children are surrounded by different social and cultural contexts and their cognitive development is advanced through interaction with people more skilled than themselves. The Vygotsky theory of cognitive development is mainly concerned with the more complex cognitive skills of children and that they are governed and influenced by several principles. This sociocultural theory suggested that a child’s parents, primary caregivers, peers and society as a whole are responsible for developing children’s minds. In his view, learning is a social process and through interacting with other people the learning becomes integrated into a child’s individual understanding of the world. This child development theory introduced the concept of the “zone of proximal development.” This is the gap in the knowledge of what someone can do on their own and what they can do with help. It is said that with the help of others that are more knowledgeable, people progressively learn and increase skills and understanding overall.
BF Skinner's Theory
BF Skinner is a psychologist who thought children learn through the experiences they encounter throughout, he also believed children can be taught through conditioning. He had a theory that stated children’s learning is based on the theory that learning is based on the consequences that follow a certain behaviour. He believed that positive experiences are repeated, and children avoid those that are not so enjoyable, this can be applied to learning, for example when children are praised for doing well, Skinner referred to this as positive reinforcement. He also believed that the best way to understand behaviour was to identify the cause of an action and the consequences to that action. He called this approach operant conditioning, through operant conditioning he believed reinforced behaviour would be repeated and behaviour that is not reinforced would eventually die out.
Skinner studied operant conditioning by carrying out experiments with animals which he placed in a ‘Skinner Box’ and animals were given a reward for an action and then the reward was gradually missed out until the behaviour was instilled, Skinner identified three types of responses that follow behaviour. Neutral operant’s are responses that occur in the environment and they have no influence on behaviour, the reinforcers are responses from the environment that can increase the probability of negative or positive behaviour being repeated and the punishers are responses from the environment that can decrease the likelihood of a certain behaviour being repeated.
Pavlov's Theory of Classical Conditioning
Pavlov developed the idea of classical conditioning, he started from the idea that some things a dog does not need to learn like salivating when they see food, this is known an unconditioned response, which he discovered by accident when researching dog’s behaviour when they would salivate when someone entered the room either with or without food. He then began to ring a bell whenever the dogs were fed so that just by ringing a bell it produced the same salivating response. Because the dogs learnt this response it was classed as a conditioned response. Classical conditioning is used more today to treat people with anxiety problems and help to develop new responses to positive experience.
Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory
American psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner, developed the Ecological Systems Theory that explained how everything in the child and the qualities of child’s environment interact to influence how they will grow and develop. Bronfenbrenner identified the importance of studying children in multiple environments. Throughout their life children are living and learning in a vast number of different environments from home to school and in society and through interaction with different cultures, all these aspects will inevitably influence a child’s development and behaviour. He identified different aspects of the environment that can have an influence on development they are, the microsystem, which is the immediate environment around a child and includes things like interaction with parents and immediate family or school. How these people interact with the child will have an effect on the child for example, if the people around the child are encouraging then the child will grow and develop better and if the immediate environment is not so friendly and welcoming the child may not do so well, this is also the case for how the child interacts with his care givers in return.
The Mesosystem is based around all the components of the microsystem working together for the needs of the child for example, if parents take an interest in a child’s area of interest they are more likely to better. The child can also be affected if two parts of the microsystem are conflicting, such as divorced parents disagreeing on how to raise the child. The Exosystem involves all the other people can affect the child through a member of the microsystem such as the parents boss, these people do not have to have direct contact with the child to have an influence on the immediate environment around the child. The final level is the macrosystem and this is the largest of all the areas as involves things like the government, culture, and all the things people have no control over can have either a positive or negative affect.
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Howard Gardner of Harvard university developed the multiple intelligence theory, he identified eight distinctive intelligences. This theory was formed as a result of cognitive research, Gardner introduced this theory it stated that all people learn in different ways based on their own intelligence and aptitudes, and not by a single general ability, he stated that different people with different intelligence do not progress all at the same time, so one child may be at one stage in the learning of language and at another stage in maths. Gardner said that the differences challenged the education system because it assumed that everyone can learn the same things in the same way. He identified the areas in which people learn individually, they are, visual- spatial where people think in terms of the space around them, they like to do drawing and puzzles etc. Bodily-kinaesthetic is how people like to use the body and movement to learn and often enjoy things like play dough, dancing and role play. Musical people like to learn in a musical way and can often study better when listening to music. Interpersonal learners enjoy learning through interacting with other people and often have many friends and are good communicators. Intrapersonal people are those that that like to be alone and shy away from others, but they are often in touch with their feelings and are good at independent study. Linguistic people enjoy using words and like to read and are often good storytellers and logical, mathematical people enjoy learning through numbers and reasoning and like to solve puzzles.
Information Processing Theory
The Information processing theory was developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was based around the idea that the human brain is like a computer and processes information in a similar way, rather than other theorist ideas that people respond to various stimuli or their environment. These theories relate to the thought that the brain receives information and processes or stores it in the same way a computer receives information and processes it. Information gathered from people’s senses is input and stored by the brain, and then brings about a behavioural response which is the output. Information processing theory has developed and broadened over time.
The general model of the information processing theory is developed around three components sensory memory, working memory or short-term memory and finally long-term memory. Sensory memory is information that is gathered through the senses and through a receptor cell it hen altered into a form that the brain can process and stimulate a reaction from the body. Working memory is the memory that is used everyday to process speech and sound and vision it sends information to the brain and the brain stimulate a response, it is also responsible for cognitive development, the working memory is affected by a number of factors including individual characteristics and intellectual ability. Long term memory includes various types of information including remembering how to do something and mental imagery, this is the only part of the memory that has unlimited space to store information. https://www.learning-theories.com/information-processing-theory.html
Reggio Emilia Approach
The Reggio Emilia Approach originated in in the 1940s in the town of Reggio Emilia in This approach is based around the child being in control of their own early learning, children will naturally follow their own interests which can then be developed and adapted by parents and practitioners to help children develop. This approach can be used to help children express their interests and feed their curiosity. The Reggio Emilia Approach can be adapted to be used by everyone as it is a basic idea that can be used all over the world but is specific to each child and community. It is important to remember that each child, student, practitioner, parent, and community are different. No two ‘Reggio-inspired’ communities should be the same as the needs and interests will all be individual.
Typically, this approach to learning is mainly applied to early year’s settings and schools inspired by a child=led approach to learning. The main principles of this approach are; children are capable of constructing their own learning, children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world, children are communicators, the environment is the third teacher, the adult is a mentor and guide, An emphasis on documenting children’s thoughts. The Reggio approach believes that children can use many ways to show how they understand something and how they express their thoughts. The final principle of the approach is a hundred different languages, which means how children use the imagination and creativity to communicate with the outside world, it does not necessarily mean spoken word.
Applying theories and models to support child development
Behavioural theories of children’s development mainly focus on how children interact with the environment around them and how it influences their behaviour. The behaviour analysis of children’s development is supported by the theorist BF Skinner as he believed children learn and behave through the experiences they have during their early childhood he then extended his theory by introducing operant conditioning and verbal behaviour analysis. Ivan Pavlov’s theory of classical conditioning can also be applied into practice by teaching children to behave in certain ways, the two types of learning that were developed from these theories are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning influences learning by pairing a natural stimulus with a previously neutral stimulus, for example getting a natural reaction from children in response something like a noise. Operant conditioning uses reinforcement or punishment to modify a child’s behaviour.
All of the child development theories are based around observation and assessment of children and how they develop and learn in relation to various situations. Observing children is an integral part of the practitioner’s role, watching and listening to children is how we establish what stage of development a child has reached. John Bowlby’s theory of learning is that children cannot learn unless he has a friendly feeling towards their teacher. Observations enable practitioners to compare development milestones to individuals, which is the basis of the Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage and Every Child Matters documents. We need to acknowledge all children develop at their own pace and we need to plan enabling activities to ensure they learn and develop new skills, there are also external factors such as environmental and genetic. Howard Gardner identified how all children learn and develop at their own pace and through observations, practitioners can identify the stage a child has reached and help them to develop further.
Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory and Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, both have an influence on the way practitioners and settings need to structure and plan activities for children to develop. They identify the importance of adapting the environments to provide stimulating areas for individuals and doing things in different ways to appeal to different learning styles. Such as using reward or recognition to promote good behaviour or strengthen learning. The influence of the Reggio Emilia approach can be identified in EYFS framework because it emphasises the importance of children’s own interests being considered in their learning
Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning influence can be identified in the use of consultations, interventions and referrals, as it shows that there are various aspects of behaviour and development that can be taught or modified. There is a link to all or most of the theorist when there is cause for concern for a child because all agencies work in partnership to support each other. For example, if a child is not developing is there a link to their environment (Bandura, Bronfenbrenner, Bowlby) is there a connection with Freud or Bowlby where a child as failed to connect with their caregiver because of various reasons.
Piaget identified how important it was to extend children’s learning by providing experiences for them to explore and challenge their thinking. Through individual planning and assessment practitioners are required to look at the children as individuals and provide activities tailored to their likes, this links in with Reggio Emilia too as well as Lev Vygotsky’s theory of allowing children to have ‘hands on experiences’ which should be considered when planning. John Bowlby’s theory of attachment suggest a child’s confidence and develops through developing attachments and interacting with those around them, this would affect the way confidence develops. This can be seen in the way young children can develop relationships and have effective communication with others.
How evidence-based approaches can inform own practice
Having an evidence-based approach to inform own practice is about having the integration of research and legislation, adapting it to suit the individual needs of the children in the setting, by mixing evidence of research with practitioner expertise and values of legislations settings can ensure they are creating the best possible learning environment and consistency for the children in the setting. Bronfenbrenner identified the importance of studying children in multiple environments. It is very important that practitioners keep their professional knowledge up to date and ensure they are aware of any current research if it could affect their practice, this will ensure practitioners are aware any new findings around children’s development. By attending regular training sessions and attending any network meetings practitioners can ensure they are made aware of any changes in practice or legislation that could influence the outcomes for children. Any relevant updates in practice or legislation should be implemented as soon as possible and continued to be reviewed when necessary to ensure consistency and effectiveness in the relevant areas. Practitioners need to take the responsibility to do their own research around the relevant subjects, especially if they are lone workers such as childminders or stay at home parents who are home schooling. Through continuous interaction with children, parents, carers and other agencies, whilst also evaluating own practice, practitioners can ensure they are providing the best quality care and education possible for them.
Evidence-based approaches through observations and planning of the curriculum involve looking at each child as individuals through planning and providing each individual child with an enabling environment. Settings and practitioners are led by the EYFS which links closely in the legislation of many of the theorists and approaches such as Reggio Emilia. Children are looked at as individuals and their learning should be led them on a day to day basis, using the child’s characteristics of effective learning to plan how they can learn and develop further.
In order for settings to work effectively they need to be aware of any changes in legislation or guidance so they can anticipate and plan how this will affect their day to day running and through regularly reviewing and evaluating practice to ensure that policies and procedures are up to date. Health and Safety in the setting is of paramount importance and has research is continually being carried out, risk assessment must be in place and constantly being reviewed and updated as legislation changes. Issues around safety, safeguarding and child protection are the foundation of everything that happens in a setting, children needs must always be monitored and maintained, whilst practitioners need to keep constantly updated through training and network meeting to inform practice. Use and effectiveness of interventions and strategies are influenced by research findings and could affect the way settings or practitioners carry out or target interventions in the setting for example, if there is new research looking into how children respond to certain interventions practitioners need to know this information.
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