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This assignment explores
how children’s learning can be effected by various areas of development:
physical, intellectual, linguistic, social, cultural and moral. Children’s learning
will be investigated using observations carried out through a child study with
references to research and theories. The approaches used when observing the
children were systematic; allowing an in-depth insight of two individual children
over multitudinal areas and producing a mixture of qualitive and quantitive
data. In this essay child development
will be broken down into separate areas, Brodie et al, (2016) asserts that child development is not isolated but intertwined,
with all aspects affecting one another. Child development is therefore a
holistic process where the child as a whole is considered, contrasting to the
1960s where this concept was highly discredited.  

The observational
evidence collected was based upon two children, referred to as Child 1 and
Child 2 and they were observed over 7 days within the school environment. This
provided me with the opportunity to collect a range of data to analyse. The two children observed were both ten and in
year six, Child 1 is male and has no siblings and Child 2 is female and has an
older sister. Both children have divorced parents however, Child 1 has an
absent father and Child 2 has frequent contact with her father. Both children
started the year below national average.

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Physical development
is an essential part of a child’s learning, it allows children to discover
concepts ‘about themselves and the world around them’. (Wilson, 2008, p.2.). O’connor (2016) claims
that physical development can be broken down into two separate areas; fine
motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills being, ‘the development
of fine control, small movements and the management of objects’ (Woodfield, 2004, p.53.) These skills are
crucial to a child’s learning as they impact on the child’s ability to hold a
pen and write efficiently and therefore, be able to form letters form the English
language fluently.  However, O’connor (2016, p.4.)  states, that ‘it can be
several years before there is enough differentiation in the joints and muscles
of the wrists and hands to enable the fingers to be used effectively’.  This means that gross motor skills need to
start developing first, before fine motor skills are developed fully. Doherty et al, (2008) and Cable et al, (2010) agree that
movement and developing gross motor skills are essential for a child to develop
their independent learning adequately. As physical development occurs, children
through their exploration learn many lessons such as; how to progress from
crawling to walking, how to wiggle their fingers individually and how to use
both motor skills to play with their new interactive toy. Therefore, physical
development skills need to be developed before a child can start writing for
the first time. It is evident from my observations that Child 1 and Child 2
could both hold their pencil correctly however, Child 1 struggled with forming
the letters consistently leaving some of his words ambiguous and larger than
Child two’s writing (see appendix 1). Due to this, Child 1 has intervention
sessions which focus on his handwriting skills and develop his fine motor
skills. The difference in handwriting between each child could reflect the development
between their individual motor skills and the different backgrounds Child 1 and
Child 2 come from (see appendix 2).  

Cognitive
or intellectual development plays a huge role in a child’s learning. Piaget established
the concept of schemas to imply how children acquire cognitive development (Taylor, 2005). Bee et al (2007, p.150) define schemas as
a ‘complex of ideas’, Smith
(2003, p.391), states that they are ‘mental operations, which can
be applied to objects, beliefs, ideas of anything in a child’s world’.  Piaget theorised that children learn in two
ways; assimilation and accommodation (Taylor, 2005).  Assimilation is ‘the
process of taking in, of absorbing some event or experience’ (Bee et al, 2007, p.150) and accommodation
is ‘changing a scheme as a result of new information taken in by assimilation’ (Ibid). Bukatako et al (2012, p.23) agrees with Bee et al (2007) and defines
accommodation as a ‘process of modification in thinking that takes place when
old ways of understanding something no longer fit’. Therefore, it is essential
the class teacher acknowledges the two ways children learn in order to ensure
new concepts are learnt effectively. The
two children in the child study both demonstrated Piaget’s two ways of
learning; assimilation and accommodation through a practical activity designed
to address a science misconception (see appendix 3). Child 1 and 2 were both
able to modify their way of thinking, resulting in accommodating their schema
to fit the new concept taught.  The
theorist Piaget stated that there are several stages of cognitive development
that children progress through; sensori-motor, preoperational, concrete
operational and formal operational (Taylor, 2005). It is evident that Child 1 and Child 2 are both at
different cognitive stages (see appendix 4). Child 1 is at the preoperational stage,
the age range allocated to this stage is 2-7 years. This is clear from his
writing (see appendix 1), where his imagination and intuition is strong, but he
struggles with his complex abstract thoughts. However, Child 2 is at the formal
operational stage which according to Piaget only develops at age 11+. This is
clear from her writing (see appendix 1) where she uses hypothetical thinking
such as ‘everyone needed to get across’, ‘there was a swing, and abstract logic
and reasoning such as ‘I felt better because Lotte was helping me, and she knew
I got scared, but I was still a bit scared.’ and ‘I would have preferred to go
at the end (then I wouldn’t have felt so trapped in) but I didn’t complain.’
She also shows that concepts used in one context can be applied to another (see
appendix 4).

Although
both children are in the same academic year and the same age, their cognitive
development stage varies substantially therefore, a teacher should adapt their
teaching to suit an individual’s cognitive understanding (Smith, 2003). Many theorists
criticise Piaget’s argument, that the stages of development automatically progress
with maturity. Santrock
(2008) argues that stages
of development should not depend on your physical age and should not be
measured by the individual alone but take into account other external factors.

 

Linguistic
development is a vital component to children’s learning, as communication is a
key element to a child’s life (Wells,
2012). Language is ‘a
socially shared code or conventional system for representing concepts through
the use of arbitrary symbols and rule governed combinations of those symbols’ (Ownes, 2016, p.18). Children must
acquire a common code that allows them to communicate effectively with their
peers and develop their social development, without these simple principles a
child’s learning can be seriously affected. Chomsky asserted that language was
an innate process that a child naturally acquires (Wen, 2013). He stated that
everyone is born with a Language Acquisition Device (LAD), that equips them
with the ability to understand and communicate in a common code (Ownes, 2016). However, McCune (2008, p.1) who is part of the
behaviourism field of thought, disagrees with Chomsky and states that ‘language is
not itself an instinct but a product of our human heritage and the work of
infants and the adults who care for them’. An example of this is the case study
of Genie; a child who was deprived of interaction with human beings for 12
years of her life and neglected from any stimulus of learning. This case study
proved that if language was merely an innate process through a LAD as Chomsky
stated, then Genie would’ve been able to acquire language naturally.

Both
children used in the child study had well developed language skills. However,
their linguistic ability whilst reading varied (see appendix 5). Child 1 read a
well-known Roald Dahl story, which had illustrations and medium sized text. Due
to lack of focus on the text he struggled with pronunciation of adjectives and
unfamiliar nouns. Therefore, his fluency was poor and his mistakes created an
agitated atmosphere. Child 2 however, read The Hunger Games. She was a
confident reader, shown through her emphasis and stress on certain lexis. The
large gap in development in terms of reading between Child 1 and 2 indicates
the importance of linguistic skills in the classroom environment. A child’s
linguistic skills can have a detrimental effect on their learning if not
developed efficiently. Limited learning can occur if there is a language
barrier or if a child struggles to recognise certain phonemes that make up the English
language.

Another
significant part of children’s learning is social development. Many theorists
believe that allowing children to socially interact, enhances their learning as
they can evaluate their ideas effectively. Fawcett et al (2016, p.106) states that ‘children learn language,
problem solving and about the environment through group interactions’.  This is evident in Child 1 and 2 (see appendix
6).  When observed for thirty minutes
during a Science lesson, where a practical was taken place, Child 1 spoke to
another person 11 times and Child 2 spoke to another person 14 times. This
contrasts with a maths lesson, where Child 1 only spoke to another person 6
times and Child 2 to spoke to another person 15 times. Child 1 spoke
significantly less whilst participating in Maths and Child 2 spoke a little bit
more, this difference could be due to the seating arrangement for Maths (See
appendix 7). Child 1 has two desks to himself and Child 2 is frequently sat
surrounded by people. However, both children talk less in English than in any
other subject. This difference could be due to the change in the structure of the
lesson, where the teacher encourages independent thinking throughout English to
complete a piece of writing whereas, in Science the teacher encourages group
work to work cooperatively to complete the practical. The theorist Moyles (2015, p.94) states that, ‘friendship
can frame and nurture intellectuality challenging learning experiences when the
resources available are sufficiently flexible..’. This indicates that social
interactions are a compelling part of a child’s learning due to the more
socially developed the child is, the more they can interact and learn from
their peers. This ultimately increases their overall understanding of the task
or the subject. Furthermore, Social groups and friendship groups can have a
major effect on a child’s learning. Blades et al (2003) asserts that, ‘in 5-6 year olds, continued
victimisation led to loneliness and school avoidance. Already probably lacking
close friends at school, victims of bullying are likely to lose confidence and
self-esteem even further’. Therefore, if a child has a secure group of friends
who share the same interests as them, then they will be in the right frame of
mind and headset to learn. However, if a child has a limited social group at
school and is deprived from social interaction from their peers, their
concentration and enthusiasm to learn may be inconsistent and their willingness
to attend school is vastly decreased. Social development is a key aspect of a
child’s learning as human beings learn morals and rules through the act of
socialisation. If a child lacks social skills due to their social development
skills not being developed efficiently, their emotional development can be
effected substantially. This therefore, links emotional and social development
as dependable on each other to create an effective learning environment.

Emotional
and social development are interchangeable, as a child’s social state can have
a huge effect on a child’s emotional state. Without both these skills being
acquired, learning can be stinted. When a child is emotionally stable and having
gratifying relationships with others, their development in all other areas
become healthy (Lindon,
2016).  Lindon (2016, p.87), stated that there
are three components to emotional development; ’emotional intelligence, emotional
literacy and emotional vocabulary’. Coleman
(1996) affirmed that, all these parts
of emotional development combine together to contribute towards a child’s
emotional awareness. Barnes
(1995, p.138), states that young children have limited basic
emotions such as ‘sadness, happiness, anger and love’, these fundamental
emotions develop into more compounded emotions as children mature. A key
component that a child acquires through emotional development is learning when
to display and when to suppress their emotions, Barnes (1995) asserts that some children learn this skill at an
increased rate than others. It is arguable that when a child achieves this
skill, the child is becoming more socially aware and established as a human
being. Barnes (ibid) also recognises
that if a child has the capability to control their emotions, they are
demonstrating emotional maturity. Young children are more likely to be more
emotional unstable due to the lack of control they have over their emotions.
This can have a negative effect on learning as, when an emotion such as ‘sadness’,
takes over a child’s body, their brain will find it hard to concentrate on the
given task at hand. Furthermore, a common emotion children experience is over
excitement, this can lead to children not listening and processing information
effectively, leading to learning not taking place. Child 1 demonstrated emotional
maturity (ibid), by controlling his
emotions of anger when a class mate kept throwing pieces of rubber at him. This
contrasts to Child 2, who didn’t conceal her emotions of happiness when she was
placed next to her best-friend during group work. Lindon (2016, p.115) states that, ‘ensuring
children’s secure emotional development is arguably, the most important role of
an early years’ practitioner’. Lindon (2016), emphasis the mere importance
of emotional wellbeing and healthy development and demonstrates the resultant
effects it can have on a child’s learning, if not developed sufficiently.
Therefore, emotional development is crucial to a child’s learning.

Cultural
development is an important aspect of children’s learning and offers a child
the chance to view different aspects in learning from a wider perspective.  Moyles (2015, p.94) states that the most efficient teaching resources
are, ‘resources that have the potential to chime with their lived, cultural
experiences’. One of the ways children learn is through referring back and
relating to past experiences they have partaken in, however, these experiences
can vary, depending on the child’s cultural background (Fawcatt, 2016). Children who speak
English as a second language and therefore, come from a multi-lingual background
are more likely to learn languages such as, French and German quicker than
children who have not due to their past experiences and cultural background
(ibid). Both Child 1 and 2 were from the same cultural background of White
British, so the effect cultural development had on children could not be
measured or compared. However, as seen in appendix 2, Child 2 is more likely to
learn languages quicker then Child 1, due to her past experiences in French and
her parental involvement in her learning.

 

Moral
development plays an imperative part in children’s development. Blades et al (2003, p.257) defined moral
development as, ‘how we reason or judge, whether an action is right or wrong’.
The theorist Hopkins (2017, p.431) agrees with Blades
et al and states it is as ‘a framework for making decisions about how to treat
one another’. Psychologists such as Freud, believed that boys acquired their
morality through the Oedipus complex and girls through the Electra complex (Shute, 2015). Kohlberg builds on
this way of thinking and suggests that there are three levels of morality;
pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional (Blades et al, 2003). However, Kohlberg
is criticised by many as his theory claims that all human beings will
eventually reach the same level of morality and generalises the human race as a
whole instead of individuals (Eaude,
2008). Furthermore, Kohlberg’s
theory fails to acknowledge that individual human beings have a range of
different moral views and what is morally right or wrong. Other theorists such
as, Piaget offered another approach to the stages of moral development. Piaget
stated that there are three stages of morality; Amoral, Heteronomous and
Autonomous morality (Hopkins,
2017). The first stage commences
before the child is four years old, the child has no awareness of rules, and
unable to give any moral judgement (ibid). The second stage ranges from when
the child is four till seven years of age, the child recognises that rules governed
by authority are obligatory and recognise the consequences for immoral actions
(ibid). The latter stage is from age ten onwards and the child recognises that
rules are not always fixed and can be negotiated and challenged, the child
becomes familiar that rules are set to regulate behaviour (ibid). Child 1 and
child 2 both demonstrated when asked a series of moral dilemmas that they were
both in Piaget’s last stage of moral development. They determined this by ‘not
solely basing their moral judgements on the consequences of their actions alone’
(Hopkins, 2017, p.432). Both children considered the consequences of breaking a
rule as well, as the intention behind breaking it and whether it was morally
right. Moral development plays a major part in children’s learning as a whole.
It encourages children to be independent in learning and to challenge incorrect
behaviour with logical thinking. A child’s moral development can be encouraged
across the wider curriculum through subjects such as RE and PSHE, where moral
dilemmas are a common theme.  Therefore,
moral development can be applied to all areas of children’s learning.

In
conclusion, it is apparent that all areas of child development are crucial to
children’s learning as a whole and can influence learning substantially. Collectively;
physical, intellectual, linguistic,
social, cultural, emotional and moral development all link to each other and
therefore, are dependable on each aspect to make children’s learning effective.
The holistic nature of children’s development has been explored and studied
through concise observations and wider reading.