Development and all its aspects begin in infancy and continue throughout life. The first years of a child’s development are fundamentally important and shape the foundation for a child's future health, happiness, growth, learning achievement at school, in the family and community. In addition to the cognitive and social aspects of development, language, speech, perception, and motor skills are also molded during early childhood. Understanding the stages of child development helps caregivers understand and support the child as she or he grows and develops. Observation and assessment processes can be an invaluable tool to better understand the different aspects of early childhood development. The following is a summary of my observation of a toddler within a family setting.
My observation was of my two and half year old nephew, Ethan Mohamed. Ethan has brown hair, brown eyes, and a light complexion. According to Piaget's theory of cognitive development, Ethan is in the pre-operational stage of development which spans from toddlerhood to early childhood. My observation was conducted at Ethan’s grandmother’s house where he resides. I conducted the observation on a Sunday morning until Ethan’s nap time, later that afternoon. We spent most of our time in the large family room and in the kitchen. Ethan had many toys, including a wide range of cars, an indoor slide, wooden train set. Present during the observation was Ethan’s grandmother, sister and great grandfather. Ethan’s grandmother is his primary caregiver and has been since he was one and a half years old. Ethan’s father visits several times a week and mother lives out of state and does not see the child as frequently. Ethan is among the “nearly 2.4 million U.S children who live with their grandparent but apart from parents” (Berk, 2003 p.275). It is evident from the affection, attention, encouragement that Ethan’s grandmother is deeply invested in the child’s well-being.
We began the observation by sitting down for breakfast, in which Ethan ate eggs, toast with peanut butter, a banana and orange juice. After finishing his first cup of juice, Ethan said “me want more orange juice”. In verbalizing his request, it was evident that Ethan had moved beyond telegraphic speech and was forming novel sentences “subject-verb-object” (Berk, 2012, p. 356). During breakfast, Ethan showcased his ability to use different forms of words in the correct tense, when he saw raspberries on the counter and said "grandma brought me raspberries". The child was very happy and said thank you after he given a bowl of raspberries.
After breakfast, Ethan went into to the family room and retrieved a box which contained his toy train set. He said it down in front of me and said “fix it”. We proceeded to empty the box and