The purpose of this writing is to demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of the term ‘normative development’. I will analyse Daniel’s (child I carried out my child study on) learning and development in relation to my knowledge and understanding of normative development by referring to the Early Years Framework Stage (EYFS) (Scottish Government, 2010). I will show evidence of my knowledge and understanding of two theorists, in which will relate in some way to Daniel’s learning and development. I will show how I supported and provided suitable learning opportunities for Daniel, by referring to all three visits. From this, I will evaluate and reflect on my ability to do this by using the Pre-Birth to Three Guidance (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010) and refer to my own experience and suggest some challenges for staff caring for babies in early childhood centres.
Dryden et al. (2005) utters that every child is a unique individual and will develop at different times and in different ways throughout their life.
Child development is holistic; a child cannot have cognitive development if they do not have language development. When a child develops, the development does not progress in one area and discontinues in another. (Doherty and Hughes, 2009)
‘Normative development’ means stages of development that the majority of children of that specific age are expected to achieve. (Meggit, 2006). I will use the (EYFS) (Scottish Government, 2008) to illustrate Daniel’s (twenty four months old) stage in learning and development.
The EYFS (Scottish Government, 2008) suggests that children aged between sixteen and twenty six months are expected to show signs of using one and two word utterances to express simple and more difficult messages. Daniel demonstrated this on all three visits, however was most evident on visit two when we went to the park. Daniel mainly used one word utterances, such as ‘up’, ‘o’ (go), ‘oggie’ (doggie), ‘you’. He endeavoured to use two word utterances on visit two and three when he said, ‘the water’ and ‘Nana you’. I took pictures of toys and characters from his favourite programmes and put together a book to help support Daniel’s language development.
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Not only do children need to hear language being spoken to develop their language development but social interaction is needed also (Bruner, 1983 cited in Doherty and Hughes, 2008, p.311). A ‘Language Acquisition Support System’ (LASS) (Bruner, 1983 cited in Doherty and Hughes, 2009, p.311) is a group of approaches used by parents/carers to further promote the development of language. This approach is where the adult speaks to the child at a more advanced level than the child is capable of creating on their own (Doherty and Hughes, 2009). On visit two, Daniel uses his hands to splash in the puddles and says to myself ‘you’. I used the scaffolding approach and responded by asking, ‘Would you like me to use my hands to splash in the puddles with you?’ By using the scaffolding approach and asking Daniel if he would like me to join him, has helped me evaluate my practice by referring to one of the four key principles in the Pre-Birth to Three Guidance (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010) ‘Respect’. I respected Daniel’s wishes about what he wanted to do; he made an informed decision by allowing me to accompany him in splashing in the puddles. (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010).
‘Responsive care’ is another key principle and is defined as:
‘building close relationships with children, being observant of them and meaningfully involved with them.’ (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010, p.23)
I was tuned into Daniel’s wishes by observing him and reading his signals. By doing this, I noticed he was extremely engrossed with playing in the puddles. I went over and became involved in what he was doing by participating alongside him. Daniel then presented what most children of that age are expected to show between the ages of sixteen and twenty six months – signs of looking for ways to get attention from others by pulling them into social interaction. (Scottish Government, 2008) Daniel also demonstrated he could use his growing physical abilities to make social interaction (Scottish Government, 2008) by using his hands and feet to splash in the puddles to obtain my attention.
In accordance with the EYFS (2008) children aged between sixteen and twenty six months are expected to look to others for reactions which test what they know about themselves. (Scottish Government, 2008). This is clear on visit one when Daniel sat on his mother’s knee, holding onto her hand, whilst he watched the television. John Bowlby’s theory highlighted the significance of the attachment between children and their main guardian (Sayers, 2008). Daniel showed he had a strong attachment with his mother. Mary Ainsworth established the ‘strange situation’ (Dryden et al. 2005, p. 78) where the baby and mother are in a room playing, the mother then leaves the room, leaving the stranger in the room with the baby. The majority of the time, this experiment resulted in the child being apprehensive and uneasy at their mother’s disappearance. (Dryden et al. 2005). On visit one, Daniel showed signs of anxiousness when his mother left myself in the room with Daniel as she went to answer the door.
Daniel also displayed on visits two and three that he can:
‘Make choices that involve challenge, when adults ensure their safety’ (Scottish Government, 2008, p.31).
I used Lev Vyostsky’s idea of the ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD) (Pound, 2005, p.40) to support Daniel’s learning and development in this situation. The ZPD is the space between what a child can do by themselves and what they can do with the support of a person who is more skilful. (Pound, 2005).
On visit two, Daniel indicated he wanted to go on the climbing frame by saying ‘up’. I assisted Daniel with his permission and ensured his safety by going up the climbing frame behind him. Visit three, Daniel also demonstrated this stage of development when he began to climb up the chute backwards at the swimming baths. I ensured Daniel’s safety by modelling how to go up chute the correct way and by holding his hand to climb the steps.
I can relate my practice to the key principle ‘Relationships’ in the Pre-Birth to Three Guidance (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010) as I strongly believe a connection was made between Daniel and I when I helped him climb up the climbing frame on visit two. Also, on visit three when I modelled and helped him climb the steps on the chute by holding his hand. A further key principle I can relate my practice to is ‘Responsive care’ (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010) because I readily responded to what Daniel wanted to do, I believe Daniel began to trust myself and felt safe and secure when I assisted him. (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010)
As previously mentioned, Daniel and his mother have a strong attachment. Daniel showed anxiousness when he was left in the room with myself on visit one when his mother went to answer the door. This could be a possible challenge for early childhood practitioners working with this age group as Daniel may take a while settling into nursery as his attachment with his mother is very strong. It is clear Daniel is still uncertain when being left alone with strangers – myself on visit one. Other members of staff/adults may walk in and out of the room who Daniel do not know, which may result in him getting upset, which again could challenge practitioners.
Consulting with Daniel’s mother, she informed me that Daniel has never attended play group but interacts well with Dion (Daniel’s mother’s friends little girl). On visit one Dion came to visit Daniel and I observed how they interacted with one another. Before long, Daniel hit Dion because Dion wanted her wellington boot back. This may be a possible challenge for practitioners working with this age group as Daniel does not know at this stage how to play with other children because he has not had the experience. He also demonstrated aggressive behaviour towards Dion which may be a further challenge for practitioners.
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The adult to child ratio for under threes is one adult to five children. Daniel is an only child and thrives to gain adult attention. Daniel’s needs are responded to immediately by his family as he is an only child, it is certain from visit one if Daniel does not get what he wants he will cry. This may be a challenge for practitioners as each are responsible for five children and may find it difficult to respond to every child’s needs.
It has been said that parents are their child’s main educator (Whalley, 2007) and is therefore extremely important to involve them in their child’s learning and development (Ward, 2009). Throughout the child study, I involved Daniel’s mother through initial meetings to discuss Daniel’s interests, general information, his learning and development and what my next steps were in taking this further. Throughout the child study I respected and valued the information Daniel’s mother gave me in regards to Daniel.
“For children to develop successfully and reach their full potential, a strong positive relationship between parents, teachers and professional caregivers is essential” (Hobart and Frankel, 2003, p.1)
A relationship was built between Daniel’s mother and I as we both connected and came to agreements on suitable learning opportunities for Daniel. Trust was also created as Daniel’s mother allowed me to interact and devise appropriate learning opportunities for Daniel’s age and stage of development. (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010)
Doherty, J. Hughes, M. (2009) Child Development: Theory and Practice 0 -11 England: Pearson Education Limited
Dryden, L. et al. (2005) Essential Early Years Abington: Hodder Arnold.
Hobart, C. Frankel, R J. (2003). A Practical Guide to Working with Parents. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
Pound, L. (2005) How Children Learn London: Step Forward Publishing Limited
Learning and Teaching Scotland. (2010) Pre-Birth to Three: Positive Outcomes for Scotland’s Children and Families: National Guidance. Glasgow: Learning and Teaching Scotland
Scottish Government (2008) Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Nottingham: Scottish Government
Ward, U. (2009) Working with Parents in Early Years Settings Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Whalley, M and the Pen Green Centre Team. (2007) Involving Parents in their Children’s Learning (2nd Edition) London: Paul Chapman Publishing
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