What does it mean to say that human development is integrated, interactive, and dynamic?
Development is integrated, interactive, and dynamic. This means that the different systems-such as thinking, behavior, brain development, and physical changes-continuously influence each other and are constantly changing.
What role do physical development and brain maturation play in the major developmental events that characterize early childhood?
Early childhood is a time of rapid physical growth and development; children's bodies become longer, more slender, and less top-heavy. Bones also ossify, or harden.
The brain growth spurt, which involves the rapid development of interconnections among neurons and the pruning away of unused connections, continues throughout early childhood, allowing for considerable neural plasticity during this period.
Myelination and lateralization also occur. Myelination is the formation of sheathing cells that insulate the neurons and make transmission of neural impulses much more efficient. Lateralization is the process where specific skills and competencies become localized in a particular cerebral hemisphere. Many functions are lateralized, including the control of body movements, some cognitive functions, language, and handedness.
Although learning and its corresponding brain development occur throughout life, early brain development sets the stage for later development and therefore is very important.
An individual's development is the result of genetics, experiences, nutrition and care, and the opportunity to play and exercise. Furthermore, these factors interact in dynamic and intricate ways, which further enhances the uniqueness of every individual.
Motor Skills Development
What distinguishes gross motor from fine motor skills, and how does each develop during early childhood?
As they move through early childhood, young children develop automaticity, which is the ability to perform increasingly complex motor activities without consciously thinking about what they are doing.
Gross motor skills include whole-body movements, such as running, skipping, or throwing a ball. Fine motor skills require more coordinated and dexterous use of the hands, fingers, and thumbs, as when writing or picking up a small object.
As children grow older, their motor skills show functional subordination, meaning that simple motor skills become integrated into more complex, purposeful skills.
Children learn new skills more easily when they are ready-that is, when the necessary prerequisite skills are in place. Readiness involves the maturation of the brain and of the physical systems on which the skill is based.
Motor development also requires practice, and the ability to direct attention toward the skill to be learned. Feedback informs children about the success of their actions. Feedback may involve extrinsically motivated behavior, such as when actions are rewarded or encouraged, or intrinsically motivated behavior, in which rewards come from our internalized feelings of competence and success.
What are the main cognitive achievements of early childhood, according to Piaget?
Jean Piaget viewed cognitive development as consisting of a series of four periods: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. In early childhood, children are in the preoperational period, and they begin this period with rudimentary language and thinking abilities.
The preoperational period is divided into two parts. The first part, the preconceptual period (about ages 2 to 4 or 5), is highlighted by the increasingly complex use of symbols and symbolic play. The second part, the intuitive (or transitional) period (about ages 4 or 5 to 7), is highlighted by children's increasing understanding of causation, as well as their undertaking of simple mental operations and