Early Childhood Section 1 PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT Growth From Age 3 to 6 Bodily growth Brain development and “infantile” amnesia Health and safety in early childhood Motor Development Gross and fine motor skills Handedness Section 2 COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Theories of Cognitive Development Piaget’s preoperational stage of cognitive development Understanding thinking: the development of “theory of mind” Cultural learning in early childhood Early Childhood Education The importance of preschool quality Cross-national variations Preschool as a cognitive intervention Language Development
Advances in vocabulary and grammar Pragmatics: social and cultural rules of language Section 3 EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Emotional Regulation and Gender Socialization Emotional regulation Moral development Gender development Parenting Parenting “styles” Parenting in other cultures Discipline and punishment The Child’s Expanding Social World Siblings and “only children” Peers and friends Media use in early childhood Summing Up 237 It is midmorning in a day care center in Aalborg, Denmark, and Lars Olsen, age 4, is playing a game with his friend Pelle (pronounced Pell-Uh).
Look out! ” he shouts to Pelle, holding up a toy airplane with a little pilot in it.
“There’s gonna be a crash! ” Pelle, with no airplane of his own, has taken a plastic banana from the kitchen play area and straddled a small stuffed bear on it. “You can’t catch me! I’m too fast! ” he exclaims, and dashes away with Lars in pursuit. Lars catches up to him and hits his toy plane against Pelle’s banana airplane, and the airplanes crash to the ground along with the laughing boys. “Come, children! ” calls the boys’ preschool teacher, Birgitte. It’s story time. ” The children, familiar with this daily ritual, sit on the floor in a semicircle in front of Birgitte as she begins to read the story of the day. Lars enjoys the story, and the “Letter Learning Time” that comes after it. He has learned most of his letters already, and looks forward to being able to read. In the afternoon his mother picks him up on the way from her job at an accounting firm, and the two of them go home. Soon his father arrives home from work, too, and Lars watches television while his parents prepare dinner.
In the afternoon and evening, Mari continues to work alongside her mother and take care of her little brother. There is water to be fetched and firewood to be gathered, and Roberto must be watched constantly. Her aunt and her cousin Gina come by, and she and Gina play with their dolls, pretending that the dolls are taking tortillas into the village square to sell. Mari’s older sister is currently the one who sells the tortillas in town, but Mari knows that within a few years this duty will fall to her.
In the evening the family gathers around the ever-smoldering fire, and Mari sits on her father’s lap. Before long Mari is asleep, and the next morning she will have no memory of being passed from her father to her older sister, or of falling asleep by her sister’s side next to the fire. As we have seen in the previous two chapters, from birth onward children’s development can be very different depending on their culture. In early childhood the cultural contexts of development expand in several important ways, as the stories of Lars and Mari show.
Children begin to learn culturally specific skills, through participation in daily tasks with their parents and siblings in some cultures, as in Mari’s case, or through participation in group care and preschool in other cultures, as for Lars. Their play comes to include pretend play, and the materials of their fantasy games are drawn from their cultural environment— airplanes for Lars, tortillas for Mari. They become increasingly aware of their culture’s differential gender expectations for boys and girls. And they develop an awareness of their culture’s values and moral order.
By sleeping alone in his bedroom, Lars is learning the cultural value of individualism; by sleeping alongside others, Mari is learning that she is always intertwined with others in bonds of mutual support and obligation. We will explore all of these areas in the course of this chapter. First, we examine the changes in physical and motor development that occur in early childhood. After dinner, Lars watches more TV as play a board game. Bedtime comes at 8 P. M. . . . the materials of their fantasy games are drawn from their cultural environment . . his parents clean up, then he and his father sharp. His mother puts him to bed, reading him a story before giving him a kiss and wishing him good night. Meanwhile, an ocean away in a Mayan village in Guatemala, 5-year-old Maricela (Mari) helps her mother make the day’s tortillas. Mari flattens a ball of dough into a tortilla as her mother cooks. When her brother Roberto toddles over to join them, Mari jumps up to hold him away from the fire. He is not yet 2 years old, and she is responsible for keeping him away from danger.
She carries him outside, where they play a chasing game for a while. They notice their father coming home from the fields for the midday meal, and they run to greet him. Soon Mari’s older brother and sister will be coming home from school to join them. 238 “ “ SECTION 1 PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES 6. 1 Describe the physical growth and change that takes place during early childhood. 6. 2 Describe the changes in brain development that take place during early childhood and the aspects of brain development that explain “infantile” amnesia. 6. Identify the main nutritional de? ciencies and the primary sources of injury, illness, and mortality during early childhood in developed and developing countries. 6. 4 Describe changes in gross and ? ne motor abilities during early childhood, and explain how these changes may have a cultural basis. 6. 5 Describe the development of handedness and identify the consequences and cultural views of left-handedness. Growth From Age 3 to 6 The pace of bodily growth continues to decline in the period from toddlerhood to early childhood, as it did from infancy to toddlerhood.
A variety of parts of the brain make crucial strides forward, although brain development still has a long way to go. Optimal growth in the body and the brain require adequate health and nutrition, which are lacking in much of the world during early childhood. Bodily growth Describe the physical growth and change that takes place during early childhood. From age 3 to 6 the typical American child grows 2–3 inches per year and adds 5 to 7 pounds. The typical 3-year-old is about 35 inches tall and weighs about 30 pounds; the typical 6-year-old is about 45 inches tall and weighs about 45 pounds.
Throughout this period, boys are slightly taller and heavier than girls, although the average differences are small. Both boys and girls gain more in weight than in height during early childhood, but most add more muscle than fat. From toddlerhood to early childhood, most children lose their remaining “baby fat” and their bodily proportions become similar to those of adults. In developing countries, average heights and weights in early childhood are considerably lower, due to lower nutrition and higher likelihood of childhood diseases.
For example, the average 6-year-old in Bangladesh is only as tall as the average 4-year-old in Sweden (Leathers & Foster, 2004). Within developing countries, too, differences in socioeconomic status influence gains in height and weight in early childhood. As noted in earlier chapters, economic differences tend to be large in developing countries; most have a relatively small middleand upper-class and a large population of low-income people. Wealthier people have more access to nutritional foods, so their children are taller and weigh more than poorer children of the same age (Ogden et al. 2002). Given roughly equal levels of nutrition and health care, individual differences in height and weight gains during childhood are due to genetics (Chambers et al. , 2001). By their third birthday, most children have a full set of 20 teeth (McGregor et al. , 1968). These are their primary or “baby” teeth that will be replaced by 32 permanent LEARNING OBJECTIVE 6. 1 239 240 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood By age 5, about 40% of North American children have at least one cavity. teeth in the course of childhood, beginning at about age 6.
However, this replacement process takes place slowly, lasting until about age 14, so children use their baby teeth for up to 10 years and have to learn how to take care of them to prevent tooth decay. In developed countries, children usually have their first visit to the dentist around age 3 (Bottenberg et al. , 2008; Chi et al. , 2011). Most children learn how to brush their teeth in early childhood, and in developed countries it is increasingly common for children’s dental care to include fluoride rinses and sealants (plastic tooth coatings).
Some countries and local areas also add fluoride to the water system, which greatly reduces children’s rates of cavities. Nevertheless, about 40% of North American children have at least one dental cavity by age 5 (World Health Organization [WHO], 2008a), primarily due to inconsistent dental care and to diets that are heavy in sugars and starches that cause cavities. Children in developing countries are less likely to have diets loaded with sugars and starches, but they are also less likely to have fluoride in their water systems and less likely to have access to regular dental care that would provide fluoride rinses and sealants.
Overall, children in most developing countries have more tooth decay in early and middle childhood than children in developed countries do (WHO, 2008b). Brain development and “infantile” amnesia 6. 2 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Describe the changes in brain development that take place during early childhood and the aspects of brain development that explain “infantile” amnesia. The size of the brain continues to increase gradually during early childhood. At age 3 the brain is about 70% of its adult weight, and at age 6, about 90% (Bauer et al. 2009). In contrast, the average 6-year-old’s body weight is less than 30% what it will be in adulthood, so the growth of the brain outpaces the rest of the body (Nihart, 1993). The frontal lobes grow faster than the rest of the cerebral cortex during early childhood (Anderson & Jacobs, 2008; Blumenthal et al. , 1999). Growth in the frontal lobes underlies the advances in emotional regulation, foresight, and organizing that take place during the preschool years (Diamond, 2004).
Maturation of the frontal lobes and connections with other parts of the brain help preschool children regulate both positive and negative emotions (Rothbart et al. , 2011). Because of these important changes, temper tantrums usually subside and children are better able to express and understand a range of emotions. Throughout the cerebral cortex, growth from age 3 to 15 takes place not gradually but in spurts within the different lobes, followed by periods of vigorous synaptic pruning (Thompson et al. , 2000). During early childhood the number of neurons continues the decline that began in toddlerhood via synaptic pruning.
The increase in brain size and weight during early childhood is due to an increase in dendritic connections between neurons and to myelination (see Chapter 4 p. 141, if you need to refresh your memory about myelination). Four parts of the brain are especially notable for their myelination during early childhood (see Figure 6. 1). In the corpus callosum, the band of neural fibers connecting the right and left hemispheres of the cerebral cortex, myelination peaks during early childhood, although it continues at a slower pace through adolescence.
The corpus callosum allows for coordination of activity between the two hemispheres, so increased myelination of this area of the brain enhances the speed of functioning throughout the cerebral cortex. corpus callosum band of neural fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the brain Section 1 Physical Development 241 Cerebellum Substantial myelination also takes place in early childhood in the Corpus callosum Connects left and Controls balance and motor cerebellum, a structure at the base of the brain involved in balance right hemispheres movements and motor movements.
Increased myelination enhances connections of the brain between the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex. This change underlies the child’s increasing abilities to jump, run, climb, and throw a ball. In the reticular formation, a part of the brain involved in attention, myelination is completed by age 5, which helps explain the increase in attention span that takes place in the course of early childhood. For example, by age 4 or 5 most children could easily sit through a 10–15 minute period in preschool while a story is read aloud, whereas most toddlers would be unable to sit still and pay attention for so long.
Similarly, myelination in the hippocampus is completed by age 5. The hippocampus is involved in the transfer of information from shortterm to long-term memory, so the completion of myelination by age 5 may explain why autobiographical memory (memory for personal events and experiences) is limited prior to this age (Pathman et al. , 2000). However, myelination in the hippocampus is gradual, and most Hippocampus Reticular formation adults can remember some autobiographical events that happened be- Involved in transfer from Controls attention fore age 5 (Howe et al. 2009). For example, in one study children who of information long-term short-term to had been hospitalized for a medical emergency at ages 2–13 were inmemory terviewed 5 years later (Peterson & Whalen, 2001). Even the children who were only 2 years old at the time of the injury recalled the main Figure 6. 1 Four brain structures with high myelination in early features of their injury experience accurately 5 years later, although childhood. In which structures is myelination completed by age 5? emory for details of the experience improved with age. Other studies have found that many children and adults have autobiographical cerebellum structure at the base of the brain memories for events and experiences that happened as early as age 2, but remember involved in balance and motor movements little or nothing prior to this age (Courage & Cowan, 2009). The inability to remember reticular formation part of the lower brain, anything prior to age 2 is known as infantile amnesia.
One recent theory proposes that involved in attention autobiographical memory before age 2 is limited because the awareness of self becomes hippocampus stucture involved in transfer of inforstable at about 2 years of age and serves as a new organizer around which events can be mation from short-term to long-term memory encoded, stored, and retrieved in memory as personal, that is, as having happened “to infantile amnesia inability to remember anything me” (Howe et al. , 2009). Another perspective proposes that encoding memories is pro- that happened prior to age 2 moted y language development, because language allows us to tell ourselves a narrative Explore the Concept Virtual Brain: Learning and Memory of events and experiences; consequently, most autobiographical memory is encoded only in MyDevelopmentLab after language development accelerates at age 2 (Newcombe et al. , 2007). Autobiographical memory may also be partly cultural. In a study comparing adults’ autobiographical memories, White American adults remembered more events prior to APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE age 5 than Chinese adults did, and their earliest memory was 6 months earlier on avWhat is your earliest memory?
Is there erage (Wang, 2006). The interpretation proposed by the authors was that the greater any way for you to tell if it really hapindividualism of British and American cultures promotes greater attention to individual pened or how accurate it is? experiences and consequently more and earlier autobiographical memories. Health and safety in early childhood Identify the main nutritional deficiencies and the primary sources of injury, illness, and mortality during early childhood in developed and developing countries.
By early childhood, children are not as vulnerable to health threats as they were in infancy and toddlerhood (UNICEF, 2008). Nevertheless, there are many health and safety concerns associated with this period. Proper nutrition is essential to a child’s healthy development, yet in developing countries the rates of malnutrition are alarmingly high. Children in developing countries remain vulnerable to some illnesses and diseases, and children worldwide are subject to high rates of injuries compared to other periods of the life course. LEARNING OBJECTIVE 6. 3 242 C h ap ter 6
Early Childhood NUTRITION AND MALNUTRITION As the rate of physical growth slows down in early childhood, food consumption diminishes as well. Children may have some meals, or even some whole days, where they eat little. This can be alarming to parents, but it is nothing to worry about as long as it does not happen over an extended period and is not accompanied by symptoms that may indicate illness or disease. Appetites vary a lot from day to day in early childhood, and the 5-year-old who barely touched dinner one night may eat nearly as much as Mom and Dad the next night (Hursti, 1999).
Children generally learn to like whatever foods the adults in their environment like and provide for them. In India kids eat rice with spicy sauces, in Japan kids eat sushi, while in Mexico kids eat chili peppers. Nevertheless, a myth persists among many North American parents that kids in early childhood will only eat a small range of foods high in fat and sugar content, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese (Zehle et al. , 2007). This false belief then becomes a selffulfilling prophecy, as children who eat foods high in sugar and fat lose their taste for healthier foods (Black et al. 2002). The assumption that young children like only high-fat and sugar foods also leads parents to bribe their children to eat healthier foods—“If you eat three more bites of carrots, then you can have some pudding”— which leads the children to view healthy foods as a trial and unhealthy foods as a reward (Birch et al. , 2003). These cultural practices contribute to high rates of childhood obesity in many developed countries, as we will see in more detail in Chapter 7. Obesity in American children under age 5 is a growing problem, particularly in Latino and Native American children.
Recent data indicate that rates of obesity for White and African American children are similar, at 11. 4% and 11. 7% respectively. However, the rate of obesity for Latino preschool children is 16%, and the rate for Native American children is 19% (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010c). Being overweight at such a young age can lead to health problems later, such as diabetes, hypertension, and depression. Because young children in developed countries often eat too much of unhealthy foods and too little of healthy foods, many of them have specific nutritional deficiencies despite living in cultures where food is abundant.
Calcium is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, with one-third of American 3-year-olds consuming less than the amount recommended by health authorities (Wagner & Greer, 2008). Calcium is especially important for the growth of bones and teeth, and is found in foods such beans, peas, broccoli, and dairy products such as milk and cheese. Over the past 30 years, as children have consumed less milk and more soft drinks, calcium deficiencies in early childhood have become more common (Fox et al. , 2004). In developing countries, malnutrition is the norm rather than the exception.
The World Health Organization estimates that about 80% of children in developing countries lack sufficient food or essential nutrients (Van de Poel et al. , 2008). The two most common types of malnutrition are lack of protein and lack of iron. Lack of protein is experienced by about 25% of children under age 5 worldwide, and can result in two fatal diseases described in Chapters 4 and 5, marasmus (in infancy) and kwashiorkor (in toddlerhood and early childhood). Iron deficiency, known as anemia, is experienced by the majority of children under age 5 in developing countries (WHO, 2002).
Anemia causes fatigue, irritability, and difficulty sustaining attention, which in turn lead to problems in cognitive and social development (Kaplan et al. , 2007; Rao & Georgieff, 2001). Foods rich in iron include most meats, as well as vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and beets, and grains such as oatmeal and brown rice. As noted in Chapter 5, young children in developed countries may also experience anemia if they do not eat enough healthy foods (Brotanek et al. , 2007). anemia dietary deficiency of iron that causes problems such as fatigue, irritability, and attention difficulties
THINKING CULTURALLY Consider the foods that you typically see on the “Kid’s Menu” in restaurants. How do these menus re? ect cultural beliefs about food? APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE . . . as a Nurse How would you respond to a parent of an overweight 5-year-old who claimed that hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and other high-fat foods are “the only things he’ll eat”? Is your virtual child vulnerable to any health problems? How has your environment impacted your virtual child’s health? Watch the Video Motor Development in Infants and Toddlers in MyDevelopmentLab
Many children in developed countries have nutritional deficiencies despite an abundance of food. Here, a child in London eats a fast food meal that is high in fat and sugar. Section 1 Physical Development Europe Diarrhea-10% Measles-0% Malaria-0% Pneumonia-27% Other diseases-49% Injuries-12% 243 60° Eastern Mediterranean 30° Diarrhea-29% Measles-2% Malaria-5% Pneumonia-31% Other diseases-29% Injuries-5% 30° Americas 0° Diarrhea-14% Measles-0% Malaria-0% Pneumonia-24% Other diseases-47% Injuries-12% 30° Southeast Asia Africa
Diarrhea-24% Measles-1% Malaria-21% Pneumonia-22% Other diseases-22% Injuries-3% 30° 0° 30° 60° 0° Diarrhea-20% Measles-6% Malaria-2% Pneumonia-29% Other diseases-35% Injuries-6% 30° 150° 120° 90° 60° Western Paci? c 90° 120° 150° Number of deaths by age 5 per 1,000 live births Europe Americas Western Paci? c Southeast Asia Eastern Mediterranean African 0 30 60 90 120 Under age 5 mortality rate 150 WHO Region Diarrhea-7% Measles-0% 150° Malaria-0% Pneumonia-31% Other diseases-45% Injuries-16% Top causes of death among children under 5 years of age (% of total) by World Health Organization region
Map 6. 1 Worldwide Mortality Rates and Causes of Death in Children Under Age 5. Which regions of the world have the lowest and highest rates of childhood deaths? How do the causes of death vary by region? ILLNESS AND DISEASE In developing countries, the causes of death in early childhood are usually illnesses and diseases, especially pneumonia, malaria, and measles (UNICEF, 2008). Malnutrition is believed to be indirectly responsible for about half of early childhood deaths, because lack of sufficient food reduces the effectiveness of the body’s immune system.
Map 6. 1 highlights global mortality rates and major causes of death in children under age 5. However, remarkable progress has been made in recent decades in reducing mortality in children under age 5. From 1960 to 2006, the number of deaths worldwide of children under age 5 declined from 20 million to under 10 million, even though the world’s population more than doubled during that time (UNICEF, 2008). The decline is due to a variety of factors, especially improved food production in developing countries and increased prevalence of childhood vaccinations.
In developed countries, where most children receive vaccinations and have access to adequate food and medical care, minor illnesses are common in early childhood, with most children experiencing 7–10 per year (Kesson, 2007). Minor illnesses help build up the immune system, so that children typically experience them less frequently with age. Deaths worldwide among children age 5 and under have declined by half in the past 50 years, largely due to increased childhood vaccinations. Here, a Red Cross volunteer in El Salvador gives an oral vaccination to a 6-year-old boy. 244
C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood INJURIES Do you remember becoming injured at all in early childhood? If you do, you are in good company. Most young children—and their parents—can count on spending a portion of their childhood nursing an injury; a minor “boo-boo” if they’re lucky, but in some cases something more serious. Children in early childhood have high activity levels and their motor development is advanced enough for them to be able to run, jump, and climb, but their cognitive development is not yet advanced enough for them to anticipate situations that might be dangerous.
This combination leads to high rates of injuries in early childhood. In the United States each year, one-third of children under 10 become injured badly enough to receive medical attention (Field & Behrman, 2003). Boys are more likely than girls to become injured in early childhood, because their play tends to be rougher and more physically active. However, in developing countries, most of the injuries and deaths that take place in early childhood occur not due to high activity levels but as a consequence of the prevalence of automobile travel.
In developed countries, the most common cause of injury and death in early childhood is motor vehicle accidents (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], 2011; Safe Kids Worldwide, 2002). Other common causes of injury and death in early childhood are drowning, falls, fire, and choking (Overpeck et al. , 1999). You might think that rates of injury and death due to accidents in early childhood would be lower in developing countries than in developed countries, since people in developing countries are less likely to own the cars that are the predominant source of early childhood injury and death in developed countries.
However, rates of early childhood injury and death due to accidents are actually higher in developing countries. For example, rates of unintentional injury among 1- to 14-year-olds in South Africa are five times higher than in developed countries; in Vietnam, rates are four times higher, and in China three times higher (Safe Kids Worldwide, 2002). This is due to more stringent safety codes in developed countries, such as requiring child seats in cars, strict building codes to prevent fires, and lifeguards in public swimming areas where drowning is a potential danger.
An organization called Safe Kids Worldwide (2009) is working to advocate safety measures for young children in both developed and developing countries. It currently has chapters in 16 countries, including China, Brazil, India, and Canada, and is expanding steadily. Despite the high rates of accidental injury among young children in developing countries, disease is a far greater danger. Only 3% of deaths of children under 5 in developing countries are due to injuries, and virtually all the other 97% are due to illness and disease (UNICEF, 2008).
In contrast, even though rates of accidental injuries are much lower in developed countries than in developing countries, accidental injuries are the leading cause of death for young children in developed countries because so few of them die from illness or disease. What can you do to make your child’s environment safe for play and exploration? APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE . . . as a Nurse Six-year-old Rosy from Mexico injured herself playing soccer. Her parents take this as evidence that girls should not play soccer, because it is too dangerous and they did not play soccer in the rural village they came from.
What might you say to Rosy’s parents? Study and Review in MyDevelopmentLab WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED? 1. What are the average differences in height and weight between children in developed and developing countries? What accounts for these differences? 2. What parts of the brain experience the most notable changes in early childhood? 3. What is the main nutritional deficiency among young children in the United States? How can this deficiency be explained in an environment where food is available in abundance? 4. How has mortality for children age 5 and under changed in the past century worldwide?
Section 1 Physical Development 245 Motor Development One thing for certain about motor activity in early childhood is that there is a lot of it. Children of this age are frequently on the move, enjoying and extending the development of their new motor abilities. Gross and fine motor skills Describe changes in gross and fine motor abilities during early childhood, and explain how these changes may have a cultural basis. In many ways, gross motor development in early childhood extends abilities that first appeared in toddlerhood.
Toddlers can hop a step or two with both feet, but from age 3 to 6 young children learn to make more hops in a row and to hop on one foot. Toddlers can jump, but from age 3 to 6 children learn to jump farther from a standing position and to make a running jump. Toddlers begin to climb stairs, but age 3 to 6 is when children learn to climb stairs without support, alternating their feet. Toddlers can throw a ball, but from age 3 to 6, children learn to throw a ball farther and more accurately, and they become better at catching a ball, too.
They also increase their running speed and their ability to stop suddenly or change direction. Gender differences in gross motor development appear in early childhood, with boys generally becoming better at skills emphasizing strength or size, such as jumping and throwing a ball, and girls becoming better at body-coordination skills, such as balancing on one foot (Cratty, 1986; Lung et al. , 2011). In the preschool period, girls tend to be better than boys at activities involving fine motor skills, such as writing, drawing, and turning the pages of a book (Lung et al. , 2011).
Fine motor development in early childhood involves a similar extension of skills that arose in toddlerhood, along with some new skills. As toddlers they could already pick up a small object using two fingers, but now they learn to do it more quickly and precisely. They could already hold a crayon and scribble on a piece of paper, but in early childhood they learn to draw something that is recognizable to others, such as a person, animal, or building. By age 6 they can even draw shapes such as a circle or triangle, and their first letters and some short words, perhaps including their own name.
New fine motor skills learned in early childhood include putting on and removing their clothes, using scissors, and using a knife to cut soft food (Cratty, 1986; Piek et al. , 2008). Their growing fine motor abilities allow children to learn to do many things their parents had been doing for them, such as using utensils to feed themselves, putting on a coat or shoes, and brushing their teeth. Of course, nearly all the research on this topic has been done in the West, and to some extent the gross and fine motor skills just described are culturally specific.
How can using scissors be a milestone of motor development in a culture where people do not use scissors? In one interesting example of this, researchers asked 10- to 15-year-olds in a New Guinea tribe to draw a person (Martlew & Connolly, 1996). Because they had never tried to draw anything before—their tribe has no written language and no tools to write with or materials to write on—their drawings were very simple and unelaborated. But this does not mean their fine motor skills were less developed than those of much younger children in developed countries who are used to drawing from toddlerhood onward.
It could be simply that the task was unfamiliar to them, and that there are fine motor skills specific to their own culture that they excel in. Recently, efforts have been made to develop assessments of gross and fine motor development that are culturally relevant, by basing the norms for motor milestones on local cultural patterns (Scherzer, 2009). LEARNING OBJECTIVE 6. 4 Gross motor skills advance from toddlerhood to early childhood. 246 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood Handedness 6. 5 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Describe the development of handedness and identify the consequences and cultural views of left-handedness.
Once children begin drawing or writing in early childhood, they show a clear preference for using their right or left hand, but handedness appears long before early childhood. In fact, even prenatally, fetuses show a definite preference for sucking the thumb of their right or left hand, with 90% preferring the right thumb (Hepper et al. , 2005). The same 90% proportion of right-handers continues into childhood and throughout adulthood in most cultures (Hinojosa et al. , 2003). If handedness appears so early, that must mean it is determined genetically, right?
Actually, the evidence is mixed on this issue. Adopted children are more likely to resemble their biological parents than their adoptive parents in their handedness, suggesting a genetic origin (Carter-Salzman, 1980). On the other hand (pun intended), identical twins are more likely than ordinary siblings to differ in handedness, even though identical twins share 100% of their genotype and other siblings only about 50% (Derom et al. , 1996). This appears to be due to the fact that twins usually lie in opposite ways within the uterus, whereas most singletons lie toward the left.
Lying toward one side allows for greater movement and hence greater development of the hand on the other side, so most twins end up with one being right-handed and one being left-handed while most singletons end up right-handed. Nevertheless, as usual, culture is also a big part of the picture. Historically, many cultures have viewed left-handedness as dangerous and evil and have suppressed its development in children (Schacter & Ransil, 1996). In Western languages, the word sinister is derived from a Latin word meaning “on the left,” and many paintings in Western art depict the devil as left-handed.
In many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, only the left hand is supposed to be used for wiping up after defecation, and all other activities are supposed to be done mainly with the right hand. In Africa, even today, using the left hand is suppressed in many cultures from childhood onward, and the prevalence of left-handedness in some African countries is as low as 1%, far lower than the 10% figure in cultures where left-handedness is tolerated (Provins, 1997). Why do so many cultures regard left-handedness with such fear and contempt?
Perhaps negative cultural beliefs about left-handedness developed because people noticed that left-handedness was associated with a greater likelihood of various problems. Lefthanded infants are more likely to be born prematurely or to experience an unusually difficult birth, and there is evidence that brain damage prenatally or during birth can contribute to left-handedness (Powls et al. , 1996). In early and middle childhood, lefthanders are more likely to have problems learning to read and to have other verbal learning disabilities (Natsopoulos et al. , 1998).
This may have something to do with the fact that about one-fourth of left-handers process language in both hemispheres rather than primarily in the left hemisphere (Knecht et al. , 2000). In adulthood, people who are left-handed have lower life expectancy and are more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents (Martin & Freitas, 2002), probably because they are more handedness preference for using either the right or left hand in gross and fine motor activities Why have so many cultures regarded being left-handed as evil or dangerous? Section 1 Physical Development ikely to swerve into oncoming traffic, at least in countries where drivers move forward on the right-hand side of the road. However, this explanation is not entirely convincing because left-handedness is associated not only with greater likelihood of some types of problems but with excellence and even genius in certain fields. Left-handed children are more likely to show exceptional verbal and math abilities (Bower, 1985; Flannery & Leiderman, 1995). Lefthanders are especially likely to have strong visual–spatial abilities, and consequently they are more likely than right-handers to become architects or artists (Holtzen, 2000).
Some of the greatest artists in the Western tradition have been left-handed, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Pablo Picasso (Schacter & Ransil, 1996). It is worth keeping in mind that the majority of left-handers are in the normal range in their cognitive development, and show neither unusual problems nor unusual gifts. Hence the widespread cultural prejudice against left-handers remains mysterious. 247 APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE . . . as a Nurse At their son Brahim’s three-year checkup, his parents complain that he uses his left hand to eat and worry that he may develop left-handedness.
They have tried to get him to use his right hand by restricting his left hand at mealtimes, but, when left to his own devices, he goes back to using his left hand. What can you tell them to help them not worry about this? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED? 1. What kinds of changes in the ability to climb stairs occur in children between the ages of 3 and 6? 2. What gender differences in gross motor development appear in early childhood? 3. What new self-care skills accompany improvements in fine motor development in early childhood? 4. What are some genetic and environmental explanations for handedness?
Study and Review in MyDevelopmentLab Section 1 VIDEO GUIDE :The Growing Child (Length: 1:13) This video explains many aspects of physical development in the early childhood years, including concepts such as lateralization, automaticity, and rates of growth. 1. In this video, the narrator mentions skills that children are better able to complete due to automaticity. Explain automaticity and list at least three activities that children are better able to perform. 2. What are some benefits of children gaining hand preference? 3.
The narrator of this video tells us that the rate of physical growth slows in the early childhood years. What impact would this have on the food and nutritional requirements of children in this age group? Watch the Video The Growing Child in MyDevelopmentLab SECTION 2 COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES 6. 6 Explain the features of Piaget’s preoperational stage of cognitive development. 6. 7 Explain what “theory of mind” is and the evidence for how it develops during early childhood. 6. 8 Identify the ways that cultural learning takes place in early childhood. 6. Identify the features that are most important in preschool quality. 6. 10 Describe the distinctive practices of Japanese preschools and how they re? ect cultural values. 6. 11 Describe early intervention programs and their outcomes. 6. 12 Explain how advances in vocabulary and grammar occur in early childhood. 6. 13 Describe how children learn pragmatics in early childhood and identify to what extent these social rules are culturally based. Theories of Cognitive Development In the course of early childhood, children make many remarkable advances in their cognitive development.
Several theories shed light on these developments, including Piaget’s preoperational stage; “theory of mind,” which examines how children think about the thoughts of others; and theories of cultural learning that emphasize the ways that young children gain the knowledge and skills of their culture. These theories complement each other to provide a comprehensive picture of cognitive development in early childhood. Piaget’s preoperational stage of cognitive development 6. 6 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Explain the features of Piaget’s preoperational stage of cognitive development.
In Piaget’s theory, early childhood is a crucial turning point in children’s cognitive development because this is when thinking becomes representational (Piaget, 1952). During the first two years of life, the sensorimotor stage, thinking takes place primarily in association with sensorimotor activities such as reaching and grasping. Gradually toward the end of the sensorimotor period, in the second half of the second year, children begin to internalize the images of their sensorimotor activities, marking the beginning of representational thought.
However, it is during the latter part of toddlerhood and especially in early childhood that we become truly representational thinkers. Language requires the ability to represent the world symbolically, through words, and this is when language skills develop most dramatically. Once we can represent the world through language, we are freed from our momentary sensorimotor experience. With language we can represent not only the present but the past and the future, not only the world as we see it before us but the world as we previously experienced it and the world as it will be—the coming cold (or warm) season, a decline in he availability of food or water, and so on. We can even represent the world as it has never been, through mentally combining ideas— flying monkeys, talking trees, and people who have superhuman powers. 248 Section 2 Cognitive Development These are marvelous cognitive achievements, and yet early childhood fascinated Piaget not only for what children of this age are able to do cognitively but also for the kinds of mistakes they make.
In fact, Piaget termed the age period from 2 to 7 the preoperational stage, emphasizing that children of this age were not yet able to perform mental operations, that is, cognitive procedures that follow certain logical rules. Piaget specified a number of areas of preoperational cognitive mistakes that are characteristic of early childhood, including conservation, egocentrism, animism, and classification. CONSERVATION According to Piaget, children in early childhood lack the ability to un- 249
Watch the Video The Preoperational and Concrete Operational Stage in MyDevelopmentLab preoperational stage cognitive stage from age 2 to 7 during which the child becomes capable of representing the world symbolically—for example, through the use of language—but is still very limited in ability to use mental operations conservation mental ability to understand that the quantity of a substance or material remains the same even if its appearance changes derstand conservation, the principle that the amount of a physical substance remains the same even if its physical appearance changes.
In his best known demonstration of this mistake, Piaget showed young children two identical glasses holding equal amounts of water and asked them if the two amounts of water were equal. The children typically answered “yes”—they were capable of understanding that much. Then Piaget poured the contents from one of the glasses into a taller, thinner glass, and asked the children again if the two amounts of water were equal. Now most of the children answered “no,” failing to understand that the amount of water remained the same even though the appearance of the water changed.
Piaget also demonstrated that children made this error with other substances besides water, as shown in Figure 6. 2. Type of Conservation Number Modality Change in Physical Appearance Rearranging or dislocating elements Average Age Conservation Is Grasped 6–7 years Watch the Video Conservation Tasks in MyDevelopmentLab Number of elements in a collection Substance (mass) Amount of a malleable substance (e. g. , clay or liquid) Altering shape 7–8 years Length Length of a line or object Altering shape or configuration 7–8 years Area Amount of surface covered by a set of plane figures Rearranging the figures 8–9 years
Weight Weight of an object Altering shape 9–10 years Volume Volume of an object (in terms of water displacement) Altering shape 14–15 years Figure 6. 2 Various substances used in Piaget’s conservation task. What cognitive limitations in young children lead to mistakes in these tasks? 250 C h ap ter 6 View 1 Early Childhood View 2 Piaget interpreted children’s mistakes on conservation tasks as indicating two kinds of cognitive deficiencies. The first is centration, meaning that young children’s thinking is centered or focused on one noticeable aspect of a cognitive problem to the exclusion of other important aspects.
In the conservation of liquid task, they notice the change in height as the water is poured into the taller glass but neglect to observe the change in width that takes place simultaneously. Second, young children lack reversibility, the ability to reverse an acFigure 6. 3 Piaget’s three mountains task. How does tion mentally. When the water is poured from the original glass to the performance on this task indicate egocentrism? taller glass in the conservation task, anyone who can reverse that action mentally can see that the amount of water would be the same.
Young children cannot APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE perform the mental operation of reversibility, so they mistakenly believe the amount of . . . as a Preschool Teacher water has changed. You are surprised that 5-year-old Octaviana seems to understand conEGOCENTRISM Another cognitive limitation of the preoperational stage, in Piaget’s view, servation, successfully solving tasks inis egocentrism, the inability to distinguish between your own perspective and another volving conservation of number, mass, person’s perspective. To demonstrate egocentrism, Piaget and his colleague Barbel and volume.
You thought that 5-yearInhelder (1969) devised what they called the “three mountains task” (see Figure 6. 3). In olds were still in the preoperational this task a child is shown a clay model of three different mountains of varying sizes, one stage of development. What might exwith snow on top, one with a red cross, and one with a house. The child walks around plain her performance? the table to see what the mountain looks like from each side, then sits down while the experimenter moves a doll to different points around the table.
At each of the doll’s locations, the child is shown a series of photographs and asked which one indicates the doll’s point of view. In the early years of the preoperational stage, children tend to pick the photo that matches their own perspective, not the doll’s. One aspect of egocentrism is animism, the tendency to attribute human thoughts and feelings to inanimate objects and forces. According to Piaget, when young children believe that the thunder is angry or the moon is following them, it reflects their animistic thinking.
It also reflects their egocentrism, in that they are attributing the thoughts and feelings that they might have themselves to things that are inanimate. Children’s play with stuffed animals and dolls is a good example of animistic thinking. When they play with these toys, children frequently attribute human thoughts and feelings to them, often the thoughts and feelings they might have themselves. This is play, but it is a kind of play they take seriously.
At age 5, my daughter Paris would sometimes “find” a stuffed puppy or kitten on our porch that she would treat as if it were a live animal that would now be her pet. If you humorously suggested that this might be an especially easy pet to care for, being stuffed—as I made the mistake of doing one day—she took great offense and insisted it was a real animal. To her, at that moment, it was. CLASSIFICATION Preoperational children also lack the capacity for classification, accord- Watch the Video Egocentrism Task in MyDevelopmentLab When your virtual child begins displaying animism, how will you respond? entration Piaget’s term for young children’s thinking as being centered or focused on one noticeable aspect of a cognitive problem to the exclusion of other important aspects reversibility ability to reverse an action mentally egocentrism cognitive inability to distinguish between one’s own perspective and another person’s perspective animism tendency to attribute human thoughts and feelings to inanimate objects and forces classification ability to understand that objects can be part of more than one cognitive group, for example an object can be classified with red objects as well as with round objects ng to Piaget, meaning that they have difficulty understanding that objects can be simultaneously part of more than one “class” or group. He demonstrated this by showing children a drawing of four blue flowers and 12 yellow flowers and asking them, “Are there more yellow flowers, or are there more flowers? ” In early childhood, children would typically answer “More yellow flowers,” because they did not understand that yellow flowers could be part of the class “yellow flowers” and simultaneously part of the class “flowers. Here, as with conservation, the cognitive limitations of centration and lack of reversibility are at the root of the error, in Piaget’s view. Young children center on the fact that the yellow flowers are yellow, which leads them to overlook that the yellow flowers are also flowers. They also lack reversibility in that they cannot perform the mental operation of placing the yellow and blue flowers together into the “flowers” class and then moving them back into the “yellow flowers” and “blue flowers” classes, respectively. Section 2 Cognitive Development
PREOPERATIONAL SUBSTAGES: SYMBOLIC FUNCTION AND INTUITIVE THOUGHT Age 2 to 7 is a 251 long period with many changes in a child’s cognitive development. Although Piaget called this age span the preoperational stage, he also separated it into two substages. The symbolic function substage is the first substage, lasting from about age 2 to 4. This is when the child first becomes capable of representational thought and of using symbols to represent the world. As mentioned earlier, language is the most important indicator of the capacity to think in terms of symbols, because words are symbols.
Play is another area where symbolic functions are evident early in the preoperational stage. Children of this age can use a stick to represent a magic wand, or dirt and water to represent chocolate pudding. The second substage of the preoperational stage is the intuitive thought substage, lasting from age 4 to 7. During this period children become highly curious about the world, frequently asking “Why? ” when others provide them with information. This shows that they have begun to think logically, because their questions indicate that they are wondering about how one event leads to another event.
Through their questions they learn more about the nature of the world, and they expand their knowledge. However, they are unable to explain how they know what they know. This is why Piaget called this substage intuitive; children in this substage do not know why they know something, they just know it. For example, even if they happen to state the correct answer when faced with a conservation or classification problem, they have difficulty explaining why their answer is correct.
Here, too, the preoperational child’s cognitive functioning is framed by Piaget primarily in terms of what is yet to be learned. EVALUATING PIAGET’S THEORY Piaget’s theory of preoperational thought in early childhood has been challenged in the decades since he proposed it. The criticisms focus on two issues: claims that he underestimated children’s cognitive capabilities, and claims that development is more continuous and less stagelike than he proposed. Many studies over the past several decades have shown that children ages 2–7 are cognitively capable of more than Piaget recognized. With regard to onservation tasks, it has been shown that even 3-year-old children can give correct answers in conservation of number tasks, as long as only two or three items are used (Gelman, 1969; Vilette, 2002). By the time children learn to count to 10 or more, usually by age 4 or 5, they can use counting to solve conservation of number tasks involving larger numbers of items. By age 6—still in the preoperational stage, according to Piaget—they do not even need to count to solve the task, because they understand that the number of items remains the same if no items are added or removed (Klahr & MacWhinney, 1998).
In other ways, too, children ages 2–7 are less prone to cognitive errors than Piaget proposed. Regarding egocentrism, when the three mountains task is modified so that familiar objects are used instead of the three mountain model, children give less egocentric responses (Newcombe & Huttenlocher, 1992). Studies using other methods also show that 2- to 7-year-old children are less egocentric than Piaget thought. As described in Chapter 5, even toddlers show the beginnings of an ability to take others’ perspectives, when they discern what they can do to annoy a sibling (Dunn, 1988).
By age 4, children switch to shorter, simpler sentences when talking to toddlers or babies, showing a distinctly unegocentric ability to take the perspective of the younger children (Bryant & Barrett, 2007). Regarding Piaget’s stage claims, research has shown that the development of cognitive skills in childhood is less stagelike and more continuous than Piaget believed (Bibok et al. , 2009). Remember, Piaget’s stage theory asserts that movement from one stage to another represents a wholesale cognitive shift, a change not just in specific cognitive skills but in how children think.
In this view, children ages 2–7 are incapable of performing mental operations, and then in the next stage they become able to do so. However, as we have just seen, research has generally shown that the ability to perform mental operations changes gradually over the course of childhood (Case, 1999). How does animism reflect young children’s egocentrism? symbolic function substage first substage of the preoperational stage, lasting from about age 2 to age 4, when the child first becomes capable of representational thought and of using symbols to represent the world ntuitive thought substage second substage of the preoperational stage, lasting from age 4 to 7, during which children begin to understand how one event leads to another event but cannot say why they know what they know 252 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood Understanding thinking: the development of “theory of mind” 6. 7 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Explain what “theory of mind” is and the evidence for how it develops during early childhood. Current research on cognitive development in early childhood has moved beyond Piaget’s theories.
One popular area of research in recent years is theory of mind, the ability to understand thinking processes in one’s self and others. Having a theory of mind involves knowing that one has a mind, that other people have minds, and that minds do certain kinds of things. When you have an understanding of mind, you can be aware of mental states in which you think, dream, understand, believe, and even trick or deceive. Understanding how others think is a challenge even for adults, but the beginnings of theory of mind appear very early, in infancy.
Through behavior such as joint attention and the use of prelanguage vocalizations, infants show that they understand that others have mental states such as intentionality (Tomasello & Rakoczy, 2003). By age 2, as they begin to use language more, children show increasing recognition that others have thoughts and emotions that can be contrasted with their own (e. g. , “That man is mad! ” or “I like applesauce. Brother no like applesauce. ”). At age 2, children begin to use words that refer to mental processes, such as “think,” “remember,” and “pretend” (Flavell et al. 2002). By age 3, children know it is possible for them and others to imagine something that is not physically present (such as an ice cream cone). They can respond to an imaginary event as if it has really happened, and they realize that others can do the same (Andrews et al. , 2003). This understanding becomes the basis of pretend play for many years to come. However, there are limits to 3-year-olds’ theory of mind, and crucial changes take place in the course of early childhood.
They are better than 2-year-olds at understanding that others have thoughts and feelings that are different than their own, but they find it difficult to take others’ perspectives. Perspective-taking ability advances considerably from age 3 to 6 (Callahan et al. , 2006), when children’s understanding of their own and others’ minds also increases dramatically. There are several factors related to these changes, including the maturation of the prefrontal cortex (Stone et al. , 1998) and having siblings (Perner et al. , 1994).
Many early studies found that having older siblings was a benefit in developing theory of mind skills (Lewis et al. , 1996) and more recent studies have found that there is a benefit for the older sibling as well (Peterson, 2000). If you have a sibling, you can understand why having siblings would help a child develop theory of mind. There is another child in the house with whom you have to negotiate, play, and generally get along with. This change is vividly demonstrated in recent research involving false-belief tasks.
In one experiment testing understanding of false beliefs, children are shown a doll named Maxi who places chocolate in a cabinet and then leaves the room (Amsterlaw & Wellman, 2006). Next another doll, his mother, enters the room and moves the chocolate to a different place. Children are then asked, where will Maxi look for the chocolate when he returns? Most 3-year-old children answer erroneously that Maxi will look for the chocolate in the new place, where his mother stored it. In contrast, by age 4 most children recognize that Maxi will believe falsely that the chocolate is in the cabinet where he left it.
The proportion of children who understand this correctly rises even higher by age 5. In another well-known test of theory of mind, children are shown a box that appears to contain a kind of candy called “Smarties” and asked what they think is in the box (Gopnik & Astington, 1988). After they answer “candy” or “Smarties” they are shown that the box in fact contains pencils. Then they are asked what another person, who has not been shown the contents, will think is in the box. “Candy” or “Smarties”
Watch the Video Theory of Mind in MyDevelopmentLab APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE . . . as a Parent When you complain of a headache, your 3-year-old daughter offers you her teddy bear for comfort. How can you explain this? Watch the Video False Belief Task in MyDevelopmentLab theory of mind ability to understand thinking processes in one’s self and others Section 2 Cognitive Development is the correct answer, showing theory of mind; “pencils” is incorrect. Most children pass the test by the time they are 4 or 5 years old.
By age 6, nearly all children solve false-belief tasks easily. Notice the similarity to Piaget’s description of the developmental course of egocentrism. Poor understanding of theory of mind can be seen as a kind of egocentrism, and with Piaget’s egocentrism tasks as well as false-belief tasks, children make great advances in the course of early childhood. Some theory of mind research has now been done in other cultures, enough to show that the development of theory of mind depends strongly on cultural context and language.
For example, Chinese languages have several different forms of the word belief, some of which signify that the belief is false; the use of these forms of belief in false-belief tasks make it easy for Chinese children to solve them (Tardif et al. , 2004). Also, not all languages have words to signify mental states. Among the Quechua people of Peru studied by Penelope Vinden (1996), their language has no terms for mental states. Perhaps for this reason, children there do poorly on false-belief tasks not just in early childhood but through middle childhood as well. 53 Cultural learning in early childhood Identify the ways that cultural learning takes place in early childhood. In Piaget’s depiction of cognitive development, the young child is like a solitary little scientist gradually mastering the concepts of conservation and classification and overcoming the errors of egocentrism and animism. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning takes a much different approach, viewing cognitive development as a social and cultural process (see Chapter 5).
Children learn not through their individual interactions with the environment but through the social process of guided participation, as they interact with a more knowledgeable member of the culture (often an older sibling or parent) in the course of daily activities. Early childhood is a period when this kind of cultural learning comes to the fore. More than in toddlerhood, young children have the capacity for learning culturally specific skills. The Mayan example that began this chapter provides one illustration.
A 5-year-old can readily learn the skills involved in making tortillas, whereas a 2-yearold would not have the necessary learning abilities, motor skills, or impulse control (Rogoff, 2003). In many cultures, the end of early childhood, ages 5–6, is the time when children are first given important responsibilities in the family for food preparation, child care, and animal care (LeVine & New, 2008). During early childhood they acquire the cultural learning necessary for these duties, sometimes through direct instruction but more often through observing and participating in adults’ activities.
It is not only in traditional cultures that cultural learning takes place via guided participation. For example, a child in an economically developed country might help his parents prepare a grocery shopping list, and in the course of this process learn culturally valued skills such as reading, using lists as tools for organization and planning, and calculating sums of money (Rogoff, 2003). Children in Western countries are also encouraged to speak up and hold conversations.
For example, over dinner American parents often ask their young children a series of questions (“What songs did you sing at preschool? What did you have for a snack? ”), thereby preparing them for the question-and-answer structure of formal schooling they LEARNING OBJECTIVE 6. 8 How is cultural learning taking place here? 254 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood will enter in middle childhood (Martini, 1996). This is in contrast to cultures from Asia to northern Canada in which silence is valued, especially in children, and children who talk frequently are viewed as immature and low in intelligence (Rogoff, 2003).
Two factors make cultural learning in developed countries different from cultural learning in traditional cultures. One is that children in developed countries are often apart from their families for a substantial part of the day, in a preschool or another group-care setting. Cultural learning takes place in the preschool setting, of course— recall the example of Lars that began this chapter—but it is mostly a more direct kind of instruction (e. g. , learning letters) rather than the cultural learning that takes place through guided participation in daily activities within the family.
Second, the activities of adults in a complex economy are less accessible to children’s learning than the activities that children learn through guided participation in traditional cultures, such as child care, tending animals, and food preparation. Most jobs in a complex economy require advanced skills of reading, analyzing information, and using technology, so there is a limit to which children can learn these skills through guided participation, especially in early childhood. Study and Review in MyDevelopmentLab WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED? 1.
According to Piaget, what two kinds of cognitive deficiencies are evident in children’s mistakes on conservation tasks? 2. What are the two main issues raised by critics of Piaget’s theory of preoperational thought? 3. What advances in theory of mind take place between the ages of 2 and 3? 4. What two factors make cultural learning in developed countries different from cultural learning in traditional cultures? Early Childhood Education Traditionally in many cultures, formal schooling has started at about age 7. This is the age at which children have been viewed as first capable of learning the skills of reading, writing, and math.
However, because the need to learn how to use words and numbers is so strong in the modern information-based economy, in many countries school now begins earlier than ever. In developed countries about three-fourths of 3- to 5-year-old children are enrolled in group child care, preschool, or kindergarten (UNESCO, 2006, p. 20). In developing countries, the percentages are lower but rising. In the United States, about half of American states now fund some preschool programs for 4-year-old children, usually focusing on children from low-income families.
Watch the Video Early Literacy Development in MyDevelopmentLab The importance of preschool quality 6. 9 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Identify the features that are most important in preschool quality. What are the cognitive and social effects of attending preschool? For the most part, attending preschool is beneficial for young children (Campbell et al. , 2002). Cognitive benefits of attending preschool include higher verbal skills and stronger performance on measures of memory and listening comprehension (Clarke-Steward & Allhusen, 2002).
Children from low-income families especially benefit cognitively from preschool (Loeb et al. , 2004; Vandell, 2004). They perform better on tests of school readiness than children of similar backgrounds who did not attend preschool. Watch the Video Choosing the Right School in MyDevelopmentLab Section 2 Cognitive Development There are also social benefits to attending preschool. Children who attend preschool are generally more independent and socially confident than children who remain home (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD] Early Child Care Research Network, 2006).
However, there appear to be social costs as well. Children attending preschool have been observed to be less compliant, less respectful toward adults, and more aggressive than other children (Belsky et al. , 2006). Furthermore, these negative social effects may endure long past preschool age. In one large national (U. S. ) longitudinal study, children who attended preschool for more than 10 hours per week were more disruptive in class once they entered school, in follow-ups extending through sixth grade (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2006).
Yet these findings concerning the overall positive or negative outcomes associated with preschool can be misleading. Preschool programs vary vastly in quality, and many studies have found that the quality of preschool child care is more important than simply the fact of whether children are in preschool or not (Clarke-Stewart & Allhusen, 2002; Maccoby & Lewis, 2003; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2006). What factors should parents consider when searching for a high-quality preschool experience for their children?
There is a broad consensus among scholars of early childhood development that the most important features include the following (Lavzer & Goodson, 2006; National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 2010; Vandell et al. , 2005): Education and training of teachers. Unlike teachers at higher grade levels, preschool teachers often are not required to have education or credentials specific to early childhood education.
Preschool teachers who have training in early childhood education provide a better social and cognitive environment. Class size and child–teacher ratio. Experts recommend no more than 20 children in a classroom, and a ratio of children to preschool teachers no higher than five to ten 3-year-olds per teacher or seven to ten 4-year-olds per teacher. Age-appropriate materials and activities. In early childhood, children learn more through active engagement with materials rather than through formal lessons or rote learning.
Teacher–child interactions. Teachers should spend most of their time in interactions with the children rather than with each other. They should circulate among the children, asking questions, offering suggestions, and assisting them when necessary. Notice that the criteria for high-quality preschools do not include intense academic instruction. Here again there is a broad consensus among early childhood scholars that preschool teaching should be based on developmentally appropriate educational practice (NAEYC, 2010).
At the preschool age, this means that learning should involve exploring and discovering through relatively unstructured, hands-on experiences—learning about the physical world through playing in a water or sand area, for example, or learning new words through songs and nursery rhymes, as you will see in the Research Focus: The Montessori Preschool Program feature on page 256. In contrast, structured academic learning, with worksheets and memorization tasks, mostly in large groups, is discouraged as developmentally inappropriate for preschool children.
Several studies have shown the benefits of developmentally appropriate educational practice for preschool children, both cognitively and socially (Hart et al. , 1998; Huffman & Speer, 2000). Generally, a constructivist approach (see Chapter 1) that is child-centered, like Montessori programs, benefits children’s learning because children are allowed to explore and discover—through play, touch, art, and individual interest—in a largely self-paced and self-structured way.
Teacher-directed approaches stress academic learning and are almost always given at a set pace, where all children must follow along. 255 APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE . . . as a Preschool Teacher The parent of one of your students questions why you spend so much time letting the children play with sand and sing songs rather than teaching them academic skills. How do you respond? What type of preschool program would you choose for your virtual child? Why? 256 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood RESEARCH FOCUS The Montessori Preschool Program A Lillard compared two groups of 3- to 6-year-old children.
One bout a century ago, an Italian doctor named Maria group of children had attended a Montessori preschool, and the other Montessori developed a new approach to enhancing the group attended other types of preschools. All the children in the noncognitive development of young children. She had obMontessori group had originally applied to Montessori schools but served that children from poor families were often well behind were not able to enter due to space limitations, with admission detertheir peers by the time they entered school, and she sought to find mined by a random lottery.
This was a crucial aspect of the study dea way to assist them in preschool so that they would have a better sign; do you see why? If the researchers had simply compared children chance of school success. in Montessori schools with children in non-Montessori schools, any Montessori (1964) was focused on making her approach apdifferences would have been difficult to interpret, because there may propriate for the developmental stage of early childhood. She behave been many other differences lieved that young children should between the families of children in not be subjected to tests and the two types of schools (e. . , chilgrades. In her view, children have dren in Montessori schools may a natural desire to learn about the have more-educated parents). world that should be encouraged Because the families of children in and enhanced. The program she the non-Montessori schools had developed emphasizes learning also applied to get their children through self-directed exploration. into the Montessori schools, it can Children are provided with a vabe assumed that the family backriety of different materials and grounds of the children in the two activities, and they learn in a selfgroups were similar. irected way as they choose from The children who attended among the options. Teachers are Montessori preschools were present and sometimes facilitate more advanced in both cognitive small-group activities to enhance and social development than the children’s development of social children who attended the other skills, but the emphasis is on alChildren attending Montessori schools show cognitive preschools. Cognitively, the Monlowing children to learn through and social advantages. tessori children scored higher on self-initiated discovery. ests of reading and math skills than the other children. They also Montessori’s design for preschool programs proved instantly performed better on a card-sorting task that tested the ability to appopular, and remains popular today. There are thousands of ply decision rules. Socially, in playground observations the Montessori Montessori preschool programs worldwide, but until recently they children engaged more in cooperative play and less in rough, chaotic had not been evaluated systematically through research.
Now play such as wrestling. In sum, the Montessori approach appears to studies by developmental psychologist Angeline Lillard (2008; provide children with a setting that encourages self-initiated, active Lillard & Else-Quest, 2006) have demonstrated the validity of learning and thereby enhances cognitive and social development. Montessori’s insights. Cross-national variations 6. 10 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Describe the distinctive practices of Japanese preschools and how they reflect cultural values.
Although attending preschool has become a typical experience among children in developed countries, there is great variation in how countries structure preschool and what they wish young children to learn. In most countries, parents hope for social benefits from preschool, but there is variation between countries in the expectations of cognitive and academic benefits. In some countries, such as China and the United States, learning basic academic skills is one of the primary goals of having children attend preschool (Johnson et al. 2003; Tobin et al. , 2009). In other countries, such as Japan and most of Europe, learning academic skills is a low priority in preschool (Hayashi et al. , 2009). Rather, preschool is mainly a time for learning social skills such as how to function as a member of a group. THINKING CULTURALLY How does the Japanese practice of having children wear identical uniforms in preschool represent a custom complex? That is, what cultural beliefs underlie this cultural practice?
Section 2 Cognitive Development Japan is of particular interest in this area, because Japanese students have long been at or near the top of international comparisons in reading, math, and science from middle childhood through high school (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2011). You might expect, then, that one reason for this success is that they begin academic instruction earlier than in other countries, but just the opposite turns out to be true.
In one study of Japanese and American parents and preschool teachers, only 2% of the Japanese listed “to give children a good start academically” as one of the top three reasons for young children to attend preschool (Tobin et al. , 2009). In contrast, over half the Americans named this as one of the top three reasons. There was a similarly sharp contrast in response to the item “to give children the experience of being a member of the group. ” Sixty percent of Japanese endorsed this reason for preschool, compared to just 20% of the Americans.
Preschools in Japan teach nothing about reading and numbers. Instead, the focus is on group play, so that children will learn the values of cooperation and sharing. Preschool children wear identical uniforms, with different colors to indicate their classroom membership. They each have the same equipment, which they keep in identical drawers. Through being introduced to these cultural practices in preschool, children also learn collectivistic Japanese values. 257 Japanese preschools emphasize group play and cooperation.
Preschool as a cognitive intervention Describe early intervention programs and their outcomes. One type of preschool experience that focuses intensively on cognitive development is the early intervention program. These are programs directed at young children who are at risk for later school problems because they come from low-income families. The goal of early intervention programs is to give these children extra cognitive stimulation in early childhood so that they will have a better opportunity to succeed once they enter school.
By far the largest early intervention program in the United States is Project Head Start. The program began in 1965 and is still going strong, with about 1 million American children enrolled each year (Office of Head Start, 2010). The program provides one or two years of preschool, but it also includes other services. Children in the program receive free meals and health care. Parents receive health care as well as jobtraining services.
Parents are also directly involved in the Head Start program, serving on councils that make policies for the centers and sometimes serving as teachers in the classroom. Canada has a similar program focusing on First Nations minority children who are often at risk for later school problems. Do these programs work? The answer is not simple. The main goal of Head Start originally was to raise the intelligence of children from low-income backgrounds so that their academic performance would be enhanced once they entered school.
Children in Head Start show a boost in IQ and academic achievement after their participation in the program, compared to children from similar backgrounds who did not take part, so in this respect, yes, the program worked. However, a consistent pattern in Head Start and many other early intervention programs is that the IQ and achievement gains fade within 2 or 3 years of entering elementary school (Barnett & Hustedt, 2005). LEARNING OBJECTIVE 6. 11 early intervention program program directed at young children who are at risk for later problems, intended to prevent problems from developing 58 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood This is not surprising in view of the fact that children in the program typically enter poorly funded, low-quality public schools after their Head Start experience, but nevertheless the fading of the initial gains was unexpected and fell short of the original goals of the program. However, there have been some favorable results from the Head Start program, too (Brooks-Gunn, 2003; Resnick, 2010). Children who have participated in Head Start are less likely to be placed in special education or to repeat a grade.
It should be kept in mind that Head Start is a program with a million children in tens of thousands of programs, and inevitably the programs vary in quality (Resnick, 2010; Zigler & Styfco, 2004). The more parents are involved in the program, the more their child demonstrates benefits in terms of academic and social skills (Marcon, 1999). Head Start was designed to serve children ages 4–6 and give them a “head start” in school readiness, but in the 1990s a new program, Early Head Start, was initiated for low-income families and their children under the age of 3 (Raikes et al. , 2010).
The goal of this program was to see if greater effects on cognitive and social development could be obtained by beginning the intervention at an earlier age. Sometimes the program entails center care, sometimes home visits by skilled child care workers, and sometimes a mix of the two. Research on the effects of Early Head Start is now in progress, but so far the mixed programs (center care combined with home visits) appears to have the strongest positive effects on cognitive and social development (Robinson et al. , 2009). Some small-scale, intensive early intervention programs have shown a broader range of enduring effects.
One of the best known is the High Scope Preschool Project, which entailed a full-day two-year preschool program for children from low-income families (Schweinhart et al. , 2004). The High Scope children showed the familiar pattern of an initial gain in IQ and academic achievement followed by a decline, but they demonstrated many other benefits of the program, compared to a control group. In adolescence, the girls were less likely to become pregnant and the boys were less likely to be arrested, and both boys and girls were more likely to graduate from high school and attend college (see Figure 6. ). At age 27, the High Scope participants were more likely to be married and to own their home, less likely to have spent time in prison, and their monthly income was higher. At age 40, High Scope participants still displayed benefits of the program in a wide range of areas, including income and family stability. This program shows that an intensive, high-quality early intervention program can have profound and lasting benefits. 100 Program group No-program group 80 Percent 60 40 20 Source: Schweinhart et al. , 2004. Gr Ba Ho m ad sic Figure 6. Major findings of the High Scope preschool study. High Scope participants showed better academic performance, IQ scores, and earning potential and were less likely to be arrested later in life than other children. 0 Ar tim rest es ed by 5+ 40 vm at ent 14 $2 0 at K+ 40 t1 5 ua t hig ed r h egu sc la ho r ol ka hie ed ew ac or Ea rn IQ 90 + at 5 Section 2 Cognitive Development 259 WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED? 1. What constitutes developmentally appropriate educational practice for preschool children? 2. How do Japanese preschools differ from American preschools? 3.
What is the goal of early intervention programs? 4. How have results of small-scale early intervention programs such as the High Scope Preschool Project differed from those of programs such as Head Start? Study and Review in MyDevelopmentLab Language Development As we saw in Chapter 5, by age 3 children are remarkably adept at using language. Nevertheless, their language development from age 3 to 6 continues at a remarkable pace, in areas including vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatics. Advances in vocabulary and grammar Explain how advances in vocabulary and grammar occur in early childhood.
Perhaps the most amazing advance at this age is the growth in children’s vocabulary. The average 3-year-old has a vocabulary of about 1,000 words; by age 6, the average vocabulary has increased to over 2,500 words (Bloom, 1998). This means they are adding words nearly every day (Clark, 1995). Interestingly, language development does not proceed at the same pace in all families around the world. Children in lower-SES families tend to lag behind children in the middle class in vocabulary development (Hart & Risley, 1995), and this can lead to lower performance in school.
Children in lower-SES families are not exposed to as many different words, and they have smaller vocabularies and use simpler grammar than children in the middle class. However, even children in poorer families acquire new words regularly and build their vocabularies over the preschool period. How does children’s language progress so quickly? Clearly children’s brains are built for learning language, as noted in the previous chapter, and early childhood is a sensitive period for language learning, when the capacity for learning new words is especially pronounced (Pinker, 1994).
As we learned in Chapter 5, young children add new words to their vocabulary through a process known as fast mapping (Ganger & Brent, 2004; Swingley, 2010). This means that as young children learn new words they begin to form a mental map of interconnected sets of word categories. When they hear a word the first time they instantly connect it to one of these categories based on how the word is used in a sentence and how it seems to be related to words they already know, to help discern its meaning. The kinds of words children fast-map earliest depend partly on the language.
Children learning Eastern languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tend to learn more verbs than nouns at first, because sentences often emphasize verbs but only imply the nouns without speaking them (Kim et al. , 2000). In contrast, children learning English and other Western languages fast-map nouns earlier than verbs, because nouns are prominent in these languages. In both Eastern and Western languages, modifiers (such as large, narrow, pretty, low) are added more slowly than nouns and verbs (Mintz, 2005).
As young children add new words to their vocabulary, they also continue to learn grammar, which is a language’s distinctive system of rules. Some examples of rules LEARNING OBJECTIVE 6. 12 sensitive period in the course of development, a period when the capacity for learning in a specific area is especially pronounced grammar a language’s distinctive system of rules 260 C h ap ter 6 Early Childhood This is a wug. Now there is another one. There are two of them. There are two . Figure 6. 5 Berko’s language study. How do the results of this study show young children’s grasp of grammar? Source: Adapted from Berko, 1958. nclude single/plural forms; past, present, and future tense; word order; and use of articles (such as “a” and “the”) and prepositions (such as “under” and “by”). Without any formal training, young children grasp the grammatical rules of their language with few errors simply by hearing and using the language in daily interactions. By age 4, it is estimated that children use correct grammar in 90% of their statements (Guasti, 2000; Pinker, 1994). But how do we know they have really learned the rules of their language? Couldn’t they simply be repeating what they hear older children and adults say?
In a classic study investigating this question, Jean Berko (1958) had young children respond to questions involving nonsense words (see Figure 6. 5). Although they had never heard the words before—Berko had made them up—the children were able to apply the grammar of English and use nouns in plural and possessive forms. As noted in Chapter 5 (p. 207), the readiness with which children learn grammar indicates that they possess what Chomsky (1965) called a language acquisition device, which is an innate capacity for grasping quickly a language’s rules.
Pragmatics: social and cultural rules of language 6. 13 LEARNING OBJECTIVE Describe how children learn pragmatics in early childhood, and identify to what extent these social rules are culturally based. In order to use language effectively, children must learn not only vocabulary and grammar but the social rules or pragmatics for using language in interaction with others. Pragmatics guide us in knowing what to say—and what not to say—in a given social situation. For example, children learn to say “please” when asking for something and “thank you” when they receive something.
Even before they begin speaking, children begin learning pragmatics through gestures, for example when they wave “bye-bye” to someone when leaving. By the age of 2, they know the pragmatics of a basic conversation, including taking turns speaking (Pan & Snow, 1999). However, at this age they have not yet grasped the pragmatics of sustaining a conversation on one topic, and they tend to change topics rapidly as new things occur to them, without much awareness of the other person’s perspective.
By age 4, children are more sensitive to the characteristics of their conversational partner and will adjust their speech accordingly. In one study using hand puppets, 4-year-olds used different kinds of speech when acting out different puppet roles (Anderson, 2000). When playing a socially dominant role such as teacher or doctor they used commands frequently, whereas when playing subordinate roles such as student or patient they spoke more politely. The use of pragmatics represents not only social understanding but cultural knowledge.
All cultures have their own rules for what kinds of speech can be used in what kinds of situations. For example, some cultures require children to address adults with respectful titles, such as “Mr. ” for adult men. Many cultures have words that are classified as “bad words” that are not supposed to be spoken, especially by children. These are the kinds of pragmatics children learn in the course of early childhood, but while they are learning them there can be some embarrassing moments for parents along the way.
One day when she was about 3 years old my daughter Paris and I were going through the checkout line in the grocery store, and she said to the clerk, apropos of nothing, “When pragmatics social and cultural context of language that guides people as to what is appropriate to say and not to say in a given social situation THINKING CULTURALLY Can you think of examples of how pragmatics have changed in your culture compared to a century ago? How might the language used in this kind of play demonstrate a grasp of pragmatics? Section 2 Cognitive Development I grow to a mommy, I’m going to have a baby in my tummy! On another occasion, at age 4 my son Miles was talking about how he planned to live to be 100 years old and asked me if I would still be around by then. “Probably not,” I said. “You’re only four years old, and I’m forty-six. ” “Ooohhh,” he said with genuine concern in his voice, “then you don’t have many years left! ” Adults understand intuitively that young children lack a sense of pragmatics, so they tend to find such moments amusing rather than offensive. By middle childhood, most children learn when it is culturally appropriate to speak and when it is best to keep your thoughts to yourself. 61 What are some cultural rules that your virtual child will need to learn in order to communicate with others in your environment? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED? 1. What changes to a child’s vocabulary occur between the ages of 3 and 6? 2. How do children learning Eastern languages differ from children learning Western languages in the kinds of words that they fast-map earliest? 3. Give an example of a young child showing an early understanding of pragmatics. 4. How do pragmatics represent cultural knowledge? Study and Review in MyDevelopmentLab
Section 2 VIDEO GUIDE :Theory of Mind Across Cultures (Length: 6:44) This video contains several demonstrations of children from various countries performing tests of theory of mind. 1. How does acquiring a theory of mind impact a child’s social interactions? 2. According to this video, does acquiring a theory of mind occur at the same age across cultures? 3. Can you think of any interactions that may help or hinder a child in developing a theory of mind? W t h th Vid Watch the Video Theory of Mi d A Th f Mind Across C lt Cultures in i MyDevelopmentLab
SECTION 3 EMOTIONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT LEARNING OBJECTIVES 6. 14 Identify advances in emotional understanding and self-regulation during early childhood. 6. 15 Describe moral development in early childhood, including empathy, modeling, and morality as cultural learning. 6. 16 Describe the roles that parents and peers play in gender socialization and explain how gender schemas lead to self-socialization. 6. 17 Describe the four types of parenting “styles” and the outcomes associated with each, and explain why those outcomes are complex. 6. 8 Describe the major cultural variations in approaches to parenting. 6. 19 Describe the main cultural variations in how parents discipline young children, and explain how cultural context in? uences children’s responses to discipline. 6. 20 Identify the most common features of sibling relationships worldwide, and describe how children with no siblings differ from other children. 6. 21 Explain how the quality of friendships changes from toddlerhood to early childhood, and describe the role of play and aggression in young children’s friendships. . 22 Identify the rates and consequences of media use in early childhood. Emotional Regulation and Gender Socialization APPLYING YOUR KNOWLEDGE . . . as a Preschool Teacher A child in your class loves to answer questions and regularly blurts out answers. What might you do to help the child learn the appropriate behavior? After the emotional volatility and intensity of the toddler years, children make great advances in emotional self-regulation in early childhood. Also
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