Physical and Cognitive Development in Early Childhood

Chapter 7

© 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc 1

Guideposts for Study
How do children’s bodies and brains change between ages 3 and 6, and what sleep problems and motor achievements are common?  What are the major health and safety risks for young children?  What are typical cognitive advances and immature aspects of preschool children’s thinking?

© 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc
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Guideposts for Study
 What

memory abilities expand in early childhood?  How is preschoolers’ intelligence measured, and what are some influences on it?  How does language improve during early childhood, and what happens when its development is delayed?  What purposes does early childhood education serve, and how do children make the transition to kindergarten?

© 2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc

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Bodily Growth and Change
 Around

age 3, children lose ‘baby roundness’
Limbs lengthen, height increases

 Cartilage

turns to bone faster

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Physical Growth: Ages 3 to 6
Age Height in Inches Boys 3 4 5 6 37.5 40.5 43 45.5 Girls 37 39.5 425 45.5 Weight in Pounds Boys 32 36 40 46 Girls 30 35 40 45
5

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Preventing Obesity
 Over

10% of 2-5 year olds overweight  Low-income children of all ethnicities at greatest risk  Heredity and learned eating habits also contribute

As ‘junk food’ spreads through developing countries, obesity rate increases
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Sleep Patterns
 By
– –

age 5, most children

Average about 11 hours sleep a night Give up naps

 Bedtime
– –

varies among cultures:

Zuni: No regular bedtime, sleep when sleepy Canadian Hare: Bedtime after dinner, but no naps

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Typical Sleep requirements

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Sleep Disturbances
 Night

Terrors

Abrupt awakening; extremely frightened Common

 Nightmares

 Walking
– –

and talking (enuresis)
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Fairly common Accidental activation of brain’s motor control About 10-15% of 5-year-olds

 Bed-wetting

Brain Development
 By

6 years, brain is at 95% peak volume

 Corpus

callosum, linking left and right hemispheres, improves functioning rapid growth in areas that support thinking, language and spatial relations

 Most

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Motor Skills
 Gross
– –

Involves large muscle groups Jumping and running

 Fine
– –

Using eye-hand and small-muscle coordination Buttoning a shirt, drawing pictures
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Handedness
 Usually

evident by age 3  Heritability  Single-Gene Theory
– –

Dominant allele for right-handedness 82% of population is right-handed

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Artistic Development

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Preventing Obesity
 Approximately

14% of 2-5 year olds

obese  Overweight children tend to become overweight adults

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Malnutrition
 Almost

30% of children worldwide are underweight, some severely.  19% of U.S. children under 18 live in foodinsecure households.  Malnutrition can harm long-term cognitive development.  Early education and improved diet can moderate the effects.
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Deaths and Accidental Injuries
 73%

of deaths of children under 5 occur in poor, rural regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  In U.S. most child deaths are caused by injury rather than illness.

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Low SES and Health
 

Lower SES increases risk of injury, illness and death Poor children are more likely to: – Be of a minority – Have chronic health problems and/or lack health insurance – Suffer vision and hearing loss 10% of poor children are homeless—more likely to have health problems and/or depression
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Exposure to Pollutants
 Parental

smoking: Increases child’s risk of asthma and bronchitis pollution: Increases risk of chronic respiratory diseases poisonings: Most occur in young children
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 Air

 Pesticide

Exposure to Lead
 Dangerous

levels of lead in nearly 8% of

children  Mostly poor and on Medicaid  Lead gets in the bloodstream via:
– –

Contaminated food or water Contaminated dust of lead paint at home or school
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Cognitive Development: Symbolic Function
 The
– – –

ability to use symbols that have meaning
Words Numbers Images Deferred imitation Pretend play
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 Examples
– –

Understanding Objects in Space
 Why

is it hard for children under age 3 to understand scale models and maps?  Because they need to keep more than one mental representation in the mind at one time.  Advancing spatial thinking:  Using simple maps and models becomes easier after age 3
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Causality
 Transduction:

Mentally linking phenomena, whether logical or not ’My parents got a divorce because I was
bad.’

 Familiar

settings help advance causality  ‘I am quiet so I won’t wake the baby.’
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Animism
 The

tendency to attribute life to inanimate objects
 ‘The cloud is smiling at me!’

 Familiarity

increases accuracy

 ‘I know that a person is different from my doll.’

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Numbers: Five Counting Principles
 Ordinality:  Cardinality  Counting  Number

number knowledge

patterns  Abstraction

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Immature Aspects of Preoperational Thought
 Centration
– –

Tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation and neglect others Egocentrism Thinking simultaneously about several aspects of a situation Inability to decenter leads to illogical conclusions
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 Decentering
– –

Conservation
Something remains the same even if its appearance is altered
– – – – – –

Matter/mass Liquid Length Number Area Volume
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Irreversibility
 Failure

to see that an action can go two or more ways
 A belief that pouring juice from glass to glass changes the amount of juice

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Egocentrism: The Three Mountain Task

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Theory of Mind
 Children’s

awareness of their own mental processes and those of other people generally believe that mental activity starts and stops middle childhood, understand that activity is continuous
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 Preschoolers

 By

False Beliefs and Deception
What do you think is in the crayon box?  Crayons!  What is actually in the crayon box?  Candy!  What do you think Joe will say is in the crayon box?  Candy!

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Appearance versus Reality
 Related

beliefs  Requires child to simultaneously refer to two conflicting mental representations

to awareness of false

Is a birthday candle wrapped in a crayon wrapper a crayon or a candle?
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Fantasy versus Reality
 Distinguishing

between real and imagined

events
 Magical  Do

thinking…witches and dragons

you want to hold a box with an imaginary bunny or an imaginary monster?!
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Influences on Theory-of-Mind Development
 Heredity  Child’s  Talking

and environmental effects

social skills with children about mental states attitudes children do somewhat better
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 Cultural

 Bilingual

Three Steps of Memory
Encoding Storage Retrieval

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Types of Memory
Sensory Working
• •

Executive function Central executive

Short-term Long-term
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Types of Memory Retrieval
 Recognition
– –

The ability to identify something encountered before Picking out a missing mitten from lostand-found Reproduce information from memory Describe the missing mitten
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 Recall
– –

Three Types of Childhood Memories
 Generic

Produces ‘scripts’ - general outlines of repeated and familiar events  Episodic  Remembering a specific event at a specific time  Autobiographical


– –

Memories that form a person’s life history Specific and long-lasting

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Social Interaction Model of Memory
 Children

collaborate with parents and adults when constructing autobiographical memories
• •

Low elaborative style High elaborative style

 Culture

affects what children remember
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Intelligence: Psychometric Measures
 Tests

include verbal items

Results are more reliable than nonverbal tests for younger children
 Stanford-Binet  WPPSI-R

Intelligence Scale

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Intelligence: Vygotsky’s Theory
 Children

use ‘scaffolds’ to learn – the temporary support of adults  Assess potential with dynamic tests  Zone of proximal development (ZPD)

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Language Development: Vocabulary

Fast mapping Child learns the meaning of a word after hearing only
once or twice

Theory-of-mind development plays a role  By age 3, average child knows 900-1000 words  By age 6, knows about 2600 and understands more than 20,000

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Grammar and Syntax
 Children

start using plurals, possessives and past tense  Know the difference between I, you, and we  Most sentences are declarative  Errors with irregular verbs

Holded instead of held
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Pragmatics and Social Speech
 Pragmatics
– –

How we use language to communicate Knowing how to ask for something

 Social
– –

Speech

Speech intended to be understood by listener Trying to explain something clearly

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Box 7.2: Private Speech
 Talking  Normal

aloud with no intended listener and common in childhood of cognitive immaturity

 Piaget: A sign  Vygotsky:
 More

Conversation with the self

research supports this view
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Delayed Language Development
 About

3% of preschool-age children  May be problems in fast mapping  Many children catch up – especially if comprehension is normal


Dialogic reading helps

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Emergent literacy
 General  Specific

linguistic skills Skills

 Vocabulary, syntax, etc.  Phonemic awareness: Understanding that words are composed of sounds
 Social

interaction  Reading to children
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Types of Preschools
 Child-centered
– –

(U.S.)

Stress social and emotional growth Children choose activities and interact individually with the teacher

 Academically

focused (such as China)

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Compensatory Preschools: Goals of Head Start
To improve:
 Physical

health  Cognitive skills  Self-confidence  Relationships with others  Social responsibility  Sense of dignity & self-worth for child and family
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Transitioning to Kindergarten
 Today,

kindergarten is more like first grade  More time with worksheets and pre-reading  Preschool-experienced children transition easier  Factors easing transition:
– – –

Prosocial child Cognitive maturity Supportive family background
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