Child Daycare center, Bright Beginnings

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This Monday, I ventured to the nearby Child Daycare center, Bright Beginnings, in an attempt to analyze the behavior of children. Upon arriving, I was greeted with what I expected before I set foot on the premise: chaos. As an adult, kids are drawn to you for some odd reason, mostly because they look up to you, figuratively and literally. As time passed, I screened out the kids and chose 2 which particularly caught my attention. Child one was a big 5 year old kid that seemed extremely introverted by nature. Child two was diminutive in stature but not lacking in personality.

Through observing these kids, I gained a greater grasp on kids’ behavior, and why they behave the way they do. Pertaining to Child Development, the name Jean Piaget has to be mentioned almost immediately at the broach of the discipline. The proclaimed “Grandfather of Child Development”, Piaget was a brilliant psychologist that concluded children developed in four succinct stages. These stages are: Sensorimotor, Pre-Operational, Concrete Operational, and Formal Operational. Each stage signals a different cognitive capacity for the given child. Sensorimotor takes place during the initial two years of the child’s life.

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Obvious from the name, senses are the main aspect of this stage. The child is in touch with senses and things that are readily apparent to them. Pre-operational occurs from ages 2-6, and involves the development of symbolic function and egocentrism. Concrete operational signifies an ability to thinking logically and seeing things from another’s perspective. Lastly, Formal operational means the child can think abstractly and solve problems. For this project’s sake, all kids at my disposal were in the pre-operational stage as they fell under the 2-6 age range.

Piaget’s importance in the discipline of Child Development cannot be understated, and it is because of him the discipline is where it is today. Using my rich knowledge from class (taught by the best Professor ever I might add), I was able to psychoanalyze the behavior of the kids’ on a deeper level than I would have been able to previously before taking this class. I found myself subconsciously trying to mentally connect the dots, asking myself questions like “Why did he do that? ” and “I wonder how he feels? ”. These questions guided me in my decision to choose the kids that I did.

Their actions and differences in personality, race, and stature intrigued me, and the information I gathered led me to believe I chose the right kids to observe. The first kid I observed was a 5 year old caucasian white male. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to him as Child 1 for the remainder of this paper. What drew me to him was his monstrous height for a child his age. Easily, he was the tallest and biggest kid in the classroom. He had blonde hair, kind of in a Justin Bieber style (not sure if you know who that is! , and along with being tall, was also slim in weight. Child 1 came off to me as a loner for much of the time I observed him. Interestingly enough, he would randomly revert to playing with his peers, and then go back to wandering around aimlessly, or playing alone. Predominantly, Child 1 exhibited Solitary and Onlooker Play. A quiet kid by nature, he seemed to almost be uncomfortable amongst his peers. The first observation I noticed was him in solitary play. He would walk around the room, and play with toys, and other objects, such as the curtain windows.

Shortly after doing this for awhile, he would walk over to where a group of his peers were engaged in associative play, and just watch. This is Onlooker play, or watching others, but not joining in. After watching his peers play, next he again wander off and walk around the room, interacting with no one, and with no clear path of direction. This is a clear example of unoccupied behavior. The first time I saw Child 1 even attempt to be around his peers for an extended period of time, was when the instructor called a group of children to a table to design bracelets.

Child 1 went, and actively participated, but as other kids were exuberant and animated during this crafting session, Child 1 remained quiet and aloof. After finishing his bracelet, Child 1 for the first time went to go play with his peers. A clear demonstration of associative play, Child 1 was playing in some type of float where the kids crawled into a house-like structure. This was the first time I saw a smile and any elicit of happiness from the child, as he appeared with a space cadet trance up until this point. This was short lived though as about 2 minutes into this, e left and began to wander around the room and appear out of sorts all over again. I’m not sure whether or not he was exhibiting this type of behavior because I was there, or if this was an everyday type of ordeal. Regardless, I was intrigued that one kid preferred to be alone, while the rest were busy partaking in shenanigans. For the most part, Child 2 was a stark contrast to Child 1. As stated earlier, this Child was much smaller, too small for even a 4 year old. He was a light skinned male, had buzzed hair, and was skinny. Child 2 was mostly energetic and talkative during my observation.

The first type of play that I observed him engage in was Associative. He played with legos with a group of 3 other kids, 2 male, 1 female. He showed a propensity towards aggressive behavior as he bashed a couple of lego builds that his peers had constructed. At this point in time, he appeared wound-up and overly energetic. I noticed that he would hit the legos that males made, but not those of the female in the group. This communicated to me that maybe boys naturally have an alpha dog mentality, and that he wanted to exert his will and competitive dominance over his male counterparts.

During this session, Child 2 was loud and boisterous. Again, the instructor called another group of kids to a table where they would construct bracelets, most likely for the holidays. Child 2 went off, and it was here that I saw a different side of him. He was quiet, almost serene, and seemed to be in a state of relaxation. A definite change of pace, he seemed focused on the task at hand. At certain points, he would talk and interact with his peers, unlike Child 1, who maintained a stoic approach while participating in the same activity.

After making his bracelet, he actually came and sat down next to me. Where I was seated, a twosome of girls were next to me drawing all types of things (for me! ) and trying their hardest to impress me. Child 2 watched the girls draw, but didn’t once pick up a crayon and join in. This was an example of Onlooker play. The last observation I have of Child 2, was that after sitting next to me, he went off on his own to try and design something with a napkin. At this point, he had mellowed down significantly, and was in his own world it seemed.

It is interesting to me that a kid could go from being so loud and full of energy, to the other end of the spectrum in such a short period of time. The data that I observed for the most part matched what I expected to see, and also what I have learned through handouts and in class lectures. Child 1 exhibited many types of play, but for his age, solitary, onlooker, and unoccupied behavior were too prevalent. At his age, Cooperative play should have been his play of choice, but instead it was his third or fourth choice.

Child 2 demonstrated a much better relationship with the expected types of play for a child his age. For a 4 year old, cooperative and Solitary play constitute 50% of all play. This was consistent in my observation, as these were the two types of play I saw him engage in the most. The handout states that Solitary play is a time for kids to be alone and be able to develop their own ideas even while in the company of other children. Intuitively, one would think that a child playing by themselves is not desired, but I learned that, in moderation, it is not harmful at all.

The only possible indictment of predictions and prescribed play types of kids in this age group, is that Child 1 was not active enough with his peers. A 5 year old, according to the handout, should have 34% of his play be made up by nonsocial activity. I would say that 75% of Child 1 playing was either unoccupied, solitary, or onlooker. With this said, I can say that Child 1 has possibly progressed slower in his given developmental stage. By using a naturalistic observational data collection, data collected is more fluid and credible. The strengths of this method are simple: I get to actually sit and observe my test subjects first hand.

No secondary data, or research was done, I was able to write down what I saw with my very own two eyes, an extremely transparent operation. The only drawback I could think of that could have influenced the data would be the kids acting in a different way because I was there. I personally do not think that kids this age have that much intellectual capacity to manipulate their behavior because of a stranger’s presence, as they were too busy enjoying themselves. I believe that this was the only way to effectively capture this data, and doing so in a different method would result in some sort of bias or a skewed data set.

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Child Daycare center, Bright Beginnings. (2017, Jan 10). Retrieved from

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