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Tarah Richards

College of Southern Nevada

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The child that was observed is a twelve-year-old female in middle school. She is

currently in the sixth grade at the Nevada Virtual Academy, an online school program that she

and her sister have attended for the last two years. Her parents felt that her and her older sister

would benefit more from an at a home-based education to kept them from being bullied. Before

parting from the public school system, they attended a charter school, American Prep. She is of

Native American and Colombia descent. Her parents lived briefly in New Mexico, where she

was born before returning to Las Vegas. She doesn’t remember New Mexico and doesn’t

consider herself to be Native American, just Colombian. She is the second born child with an

older sister and two younger siblings from her father and his wife, her step-mother. She comes

from a two-family home; her mother is not a large part of her life and her father has full custody

of her and her sister. His mother played a large part of her upbringing until her father married.

Her step-mother come into her life when she was four years old. Her parents have decided that

her step-mother should stay at home while he works. He has a very open work schedule which

also allows him to be home a lot. She is from a low economic family, money is tight and

budgeted for household items.


The child, who will be called Child A, for this report is of slender athletic build. I believe

she is at a normal level physically for her age. She attends an online based school so her physical

activities are very low as she is not allowed to leave the house. The research done by Charles H.

Hillman suggest that there is a collation between poor physical activity and cognitive and brain

health (Hillman, 149). According to his research, children with higher physical activities have

better cognitive control and memory (149). Hillman wrote "In children, we have only begun to
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"scratch the surface" of what is known.... increasing physical activity and /or fitness to determine

the relationship with brain and cognition is easily accomplished with the necessary

resources"(151). Physical activity can also reduce the risks of depression in early to middle

adolescence as found by the study done by Anne Mari Sund, Bo Larsson, and Lars Wichstrom.

in their study, Role of physical and sedentary activities in the development of depressive

symptoms in early adolescence (Sund, 431). According to their study, young adolescences who

followed the daily exercise recommendations had less stress a year later (Sund, 432). In a study

done by V.P. Lopes, D. F. Stodden, and L.P. Rodrigues, Weight status is associated with cross-

sectional trajectories of motor co-ordination across childhood, the body weight of the children

has effects the development of motor co-ordination with a vary of factors. The results found that

“normal weight children showed more progress in motor co-ordination than their

overweight/obese peers and, consequently, between group differences in Korperkoordination

Test fur Kinder outcomes became more marked over time” (Lopes, 896).


When asked about her emotional status regarding education and how she feels about

school, she felt calm, open, cheerful, friendly but also had felt annoyed, suspicious, doubt,

offended, and guarded. According to Psychology Applied to Teaching, Erikson’s theory of

psychosocial development, the Identity versus Role Confusion stage that begins at age twelve

years old to eighteen years old deals with children development their own sense of being and

their role in their world and what they want they want to do (Snowman, 30). According to a stud,

Emotional Reactivity and Exposure to Household Stress in Childhood Predict Psychological

Problems in Adolescence by Benjamin G. Sharpero and Laurence Steinberg, found “that

emotional reactivity and low household income during childhood are associated directly with
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increased levels of emotional and behavioral problems in adolescence” (Sharpero, 1579). Child

A has a highly emotional step-mother and the tense runs very deep in the household. The study

found that “family chaos does not have an impact on adolescence behavior problems…but the

impact of family chaos on psychopathology depends on the child’s temperament” (Sharpero,

1580). According to the study, Child A should be able to survive her family chaos regardless of

her family’s income. Empathy forms an great part in children development, it teaches them how

emotions affect others and how they should feel in consider situations. It plays a large part of

children’s moral development and takes a backseat during puberty as found in the report by

Jolien Van der Graaff, Susan Branje, Minet De Wied, and Skyler Hawk (Van der Graaff, 881).

The report, Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern in Adolescence: Gender Differences in

Developmental Changes, “empathy is a complex phenomenon, involving cognitive and affective

processes that might follow different developmental patterns” (Van der Graaff, 881). The study

found that “girls had higher levels of empathic concerns than boys had, and, in concordance with

the literature, this difference was stronger than that for perspective taking. Girls; levels remained

stable during adolescence, and boys reported decreasing levels until age 16” (Van der Graaff,

885). According to the research done by Eva Oberle, Kimberly A. Schonert-Recichl, Kimberly

C. Thomson, Understanding the Link Between Social and Emotional Well-Being and Peer

Relations in Early Adolescence: Gender-Specific Predictors of Peer Acceptance, empathy is a

good indication of peer acceptance (Oberle, 1338). The study also found that “… potential

explanation for why girls in our study and did not necessarily refrain from nominating peers with

whom to be involved in activities, even if they perceived them to exhibit antisocial behaviors”

(Oberle, 1339).

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When Child A was asked about education her responses were depressing. Child A had a

basic understanding of the means of education, it can not be taken away from you after you have

acquired it; but had no real fondness for education. A study wrote by Selva Lewin-Bizan, Alicia

Doyle-Lynch, Kristen Fay, Kristina Schmid, Caitlin McPherran, Jacqueline V. Lerner, and

Richard M. Lerner, Trajectories of Positive and Negative Behaviors from Early to Middle

Adolescence, conducted research on positive youth development and have found that youths who

are taught to manage their positivity are at a lower risk for behavior problems such as depression

and risk behaviors (Bizan, 760). This study is still in its infancy stage and further studies are

needed. According to Classical and Contemporary Approaches for Moral Development, “Piaget

and Kohlberg approach moral development from cognitive perspective. Piaget used various

stories in order to investigate moral development and observed the children during the play

setting. Piaget emphasized the importance mutuality autonomy in moral development….The

Piagetian views led Kohlberg to develop a new theory based on three levels and six

stages…Kohlberg’s contributions to moral development have been very influential (Cam, 1222-

1223). Child A’s moral development is strongly shaped by her relationship with her younger

sister and step-mother. The younger child has learned that when she lies to her mother Child A

usually get the blame for it. Child A has stated many times she in not allow to hit her sister or

she’s get in trouble even when her sister is causing trouble. Child A is started to see the injustice

of this and avoid being with her younger sister. The Development of Leisure Boredom in Early

Adolescence: Predictors and Longitudinal Associations with Delinquency and Depression, by

Michael Spaeth, Karina Weichold and Rainer K. Silbereisen, stated “positive leisure (e.g.

participation in creative and goal-oriented activities) has the potential to contribute to adolescent

individuation, socioemotional competence, initiative and mental/physical health. Adolescent

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leisure boredom, in turn, may indicate a mismatch between adolescents’ needs and actual leisure

experiences and/or a lack of personal skills to participate in satisfying activities (Spaeth,1380-



Child A must be a self-starter as she is attending school online and has be logged in to her

classes by a certain time. She must get up on time, remain quite while the rest of the house sleeps

and feed herself. She does not engage with her classmates while in class and any help she needs,

she turns to YouTube videos, Khan Academy, and her teacher. The school requires her to attend a

brick and mortar building once a week where she can meet with her teachers, but she is not

allowed to stay and interact with the other students afterwards. This has created a belief in her

that she does not need friends, that education is not a social place; the only people she interacts

with on a regular basis are her immediate family members. In the Psychology Applied to

Teaching, Piaget stated that “peer interactions do more to spur cognitive development that do

interactions with adults (Snowman, 45). According to the study by Irene H.A. De Goede, Susan

J. T. Branje, Wim H. J. Meeus, Developmental Changes in Adolescents’ Perceptions of

Relationships with Their Parents, it is normal for adolescents to move towards their friends and

activities outside of the home (De Goede, 75). There are two theories that deal with this

adolescent need to distant themselves from their parents: the separation-individuation and the

autonomy-relatedness (De Goede, 75). In the separation-individuation theory, adolescents grow

apart from the family unit and agreements are common among parents and their adolescents

children (De Goede, 75). The autonomy-relatedness theory stated, “adolescents development

more autonomy, which may create a temporary dip in parent-child connectedness, although

connectedness to parents remains important” (De Goede, 75). “Friends are an important source
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of social support” as noted in Why Do Friends Matter?, by Brett Laursen and Karen Mooney

(Laursen, 323). Friends offer supports for family problems, victimizations, school adjustment

difficulties (Lausren, 323). Friendships help adolescents see other people’s point of view and

allows them to grow in a relaxed matter (Laursen, 323). According to an article written by Eva

Oberle, Social-emotional competence and early adolescents’ peer acceptance in school:

Examining the role of afternoon cortisol, “Peer acceptance is an important developmental

milestone in early adolescence; it has been linked to early adolescents’ wellbeing, resilience, and

success in and outside of school (Oberle, 1)


Child A’s current grade in school is failing, she will have to continue taking classes into

the summer, this is also what happened to her and her sister last year. Before she was placed in

Nevada’s Virtual Academy, her fourth-grade teacher told her parents that math was her worst

subject and she was too social during class to pay attention to the lesson. According to the 14th

edition of Psychology Applied to Teaching, Piaget’s Cognitive Development has many stages

and middle school students are in the Formal Operational Stage (Snowman, 43). At this stage,

adolescents should be able to focus on the problem and not its context (Snowman, 43). The

formal operational stage is where adolescents begin to form a solid identity (Ahmad, 74).

Concept acquisition is the biggest payoff in this stage (Ahmad, 74). In a study by Zhannat

Saparkysy, Gulzhan Isatayeva, Zahida Kozhabkova, Almzhan Zhakesheva, Gulzhamal

Koptayeve, Gulzhan Agabekova and Sholoan Agabekova, The formation and development of

Cognitive Activity od Students in the Learning Process, found that students are learning

differently than they learned twenty years ago (Saparkysy, 12236). This is due to the increase use

of technology and the fast pace in should adolescents live their lives (Saparkysy, 12236). Susan
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Edwards wrote in her article, Active learning in the middle grades, that the main goal as

educators is for students to be “intellectually engaged with the context” (Edwards, 26). “Young

adolescences have an intense curiosity about the world around them and are trying to make sense

of that world. Instructional strategies that capitalize on that curiosity and require students to

actively make sense of the context are ideal for the middle grades” (Edwards, 26). According to

Edwards, middle grades benefit greatly from a active learning lesson though there are many

different approaches available for them to learn (32).


I would recommend for Child A’s physical development would be to increase her outside

activities. I believe having her participate in a sport would help her continue to development at

the age level she is at. For her emotional development, I would recommend she kept a daily

journal and record her thought and feeling in it. This will help her development her identity more

clearly and allow her some autonomy from her parents. For her philosophical development I feel

she would benefit great by reading classical novels. These classical novels will open her mind to

other possibilities and help her establish a stronger belief system. As I stated about Child A’s

physical development recommendations, I believe her participation in a sport will help her social

development as well. Being apart of a team and getting to interact with children her age will help

her adjust to more responsibilities. Her intellectual development will benefit from a different

learning environment. I believe she would benefit from a school program that is not online, she

needs the ability to interact with students her own age. She would also benefit from having a

teacher and student relationship with her teachers.

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Ahmad, S., Ch, Dr. A.H., Batool, A., Sittar, K., and Malik, Dr. M. (2016). Play and cognitive

development: formal operational perspective of Piaget’s theory. Journal of Education

and Practice, Vol 7. 72-79.

Cam, Z., Seydooguullari, S., Cavdar, D., and Cok, F., (2012) Classical and contemporary

approaches for moral development [Supplementary Special Issue]. Educational Sciences:

Theory & Practice, 12 (2) 1222-1225.

De Goede, I.H.A, Branje, S. J. T, and Meeus, W.H.J., (2008). Developmental changes in

adolescents’ perceptions of relattionships with their parents. J Youth Adolescence, 38, 75-

88. doi: 10.1007/s10964-088-9286-7

Edwards, S., (2015). Active learning in the middle grades. Middle School Journal, 26-32.

Hillman, C., Conclusions and future directions of the research on physical activity and the

childhood cognitive and brain health. Monographs of the society for research in child

development (149-152).

Laursen, B., & Mooney, K.S., (2005). Why do friends matter?. Human Development, 48, 323-

326. doi:10.1159/000086878

Lewin-Bizan, S., Lynch, A.D., Fay, K., Schmid, K., McPherran, C., Lerner, J.V., and Lerner

R.M., (2010). Trajectories of positive and negative behaviors from early – to middle-

adolescence. J Youth Adolescence,39, 751-763. Doi: 10.1007/s10964-010-9532-7

Lopes, V.P., Stodden, D.F., Rodrigues, L.P., (2013). Weight status is associated with cross-

sectional trajectories of motor co-ordination across childhood. Child: care, health, and

development. 40 (6), 891-899. doi: 10.1111/cch.12127

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Malone, J.C., Liu, S.R., Vaillant, G.E., Rentz, D.M., and Waldinger, R.J., (2015). Midlife

Erikson psychosocial development: setting the stage for late-life cognitive and emotional

health. Developmental Psychology, 52 (3), 496-508. Doi:10.1037/a0039875

Oberle, E., (2018). Social-emotional competence and early adolescents’ peer acceptance in

school: examining the role of afternoon cortisol. PLOS One, 1-12. doi: 10.1371

Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, K.A., Thomson, K.C., (2009). Understanding the link between

social and emotional well-being and peer relations in early adolescence: gender-specific

predictors of peer acceptance. J Youth Adolescence, 39, 1330-1342. doi:10.1007/s10964-


Saparkyzy, Z., Isatayeva, G., Kozhabekova, Z., Zhakesheva, A., Koptayeva, G., Agabekova, G.,

and Agabekova, S. (2016). The formation and development of cognitive activity of

students I the learning process. International Journal of Environmental & Science

Education, 11(18), 12235-12244.

Shapero, B.G. and Steinberg, L., (2013). Emotional reactivity and exposure to household stress

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Spaeth, M., Weichold, K., and Silbereisen, R.K., (2015). The development of leisure boredom in

early adolescence: predictors and longitudinal associations with delinquency and

depression. Developmental Psychology, 51(10) 1380-1394. doi: 10.1037/a0039480

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Sund, A.M., Larsson, B., and Wichstrom, L. (2011). Role of physical and sedentary activities I

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Van der Graaff, J., Branje, S., De Wied, M., Hawk, S., Van Lier, P., and Meeus, W., (2013)

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developmental changes. Developmental Psychology, 50 (3), 881-888. doi:

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