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Invitation to the Life Span

by Kathleen Stassen Berger

Chapter 5- Early Childhood


Body and Mind

PowerPoint Slides developed by


Martin Wolfger and Michael James
Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington

Body Changes
Growth Patterns
Children become slimmer as the lower body
lengthens.
Each year from age 2 through 6, wellnourished children add almost 3 inches in
height and gain about 4 12 pounds in weight.
Center of gravity moves from the breastbone
down to the belly button.

Body Changes

Nutrition
Children need far fewer calories per pound of
body weight than infants do.
Obesity is a more frequent problem than
malnutrition.
Children in low-income families are especially
vulnerable to obesity because their cultures still
guard against undernutrition and their parents may
rely on fast foods.
Overfeeding is causing an epidemic of illnesses
associated with obesity, such as heart disease and
diabetes.

Body Changes
Many children want foods that are high in
fat, salt, and sugar.
Adults frequently give in, even rewarding
children with candy.
Too much sugar and too little fiber rot the teeth.
Tooth decay is the most common disease of
young children in developed nations
affects more than one-third of all children under
age 6 in the United States .

Body Changes
Just Right
Some children insist on eating only certain foods, prepared
and presented in a particular way. This rigidity, known as the
just-right phenomenon, would be pathological in adults
but is normal in children under age 6.
When 1,500 parents were surveyed about their 1- to 6-yearolds (Evans et al., 1997), their responses indicated that over
75 percent of the 3-year-olds (the peak age) evidenced some
just-right tendency, in that they:
Preferred to have things done in a particular order or in a certain
way
Had a strong preference to wear (or not wear) certain clothes
Prepared for bedtime by engaging in a special activity, routine, or ritual
Had strong preferences for certain foods

Body Changes

Motor Skills
Children develop all their motor skills
spontaneously and diligently as they play.
By age 6, most North Americans ride tricycles;
climb ladders; pump their legs on swings; and
throw, catch, and kick balls.
Muscle growth, brain maturation, and guided
practice advance every gross motor skill.
Practice improves dexterity and advances fine
motor skills, which involve small body
movements.

Brain Development
By age 2, a childs brain weighs 75
percent of what it will in adulthood, and
extensive sprouting and then pruning of
dendrites has already taken place.
The brain reaches 90 percent of adult
weight by age 6.

Brain Development

Brain Development
Speed of Thought
The primary reason for faster thinking is
new and extensive myelination.
Myelin is a fatty coating on the axons that
speeds signals between neurons.
A gradual increase in myelination makes
5-year-olds much quicker than 3-yearolds, who themselves are quicker than
toddlers.

Brain Development
One part of the brain that grows and myelinates
rapidly during early childhood is the corpus
callosum, a band of nerve fibers that connects
the left and right sides of the brain.
Growth of the corpus callosum makes
communication between the two brain
hemispheres more efficient.
Lateralization- Literally, sidedness, referring to
the specialization in certain functions by each side
of the brain, with one side dominant for each
activity.

Brain Development
The Prefrontal Cortex
Maturation of the prefrontal cortex gradually
enables children to focus attention and curb
impulsiveness.
Before such maturation, many young children
jump from task to task; they cannot stay
quiet.
Others act in the opposite way: In a
phenomenon called perseveration, some
children persevere in, or stick to, one thought
or action, unable to quit.

Brain Development
From ages 2 to 6, maturation of the
prefrontal cortex has several notable
benefits:
Sleep becomes more regular.
Emotions become more nuanced and
responsive.
Temper tantrums subside.

Brain Development

Emotions and the Brain


Limbic System- parts of the brain that are crucial in
the expression and regulation of emotions
Amygdala- A tiny brain structure that registers
emotions, particularly fear and anxiety.
Hippocampus- A brain structure that is a central
processor of memory, especially memory for locations.
Hypothalamus- A brain area that responds to the
amygdala and the hippocampus to produce hormones
that activate other parts of the brain and body.
Prolonged stress may lead to emotional and cognitive
impairment.

Thinking During Early Childhood


Piaget: Preoperational Thought
Preoperational means before (pre)
logical operations (reasoning processes).
The childs verbal ability permits symbolic
thinking. Language frees the child from
the limits of sensorimotor experience.

Thinking During Early Childhood


Characteristics of preoperational thought:
Centration- A characteristic of preoperational
thought whereby a young child focuses
(centers) on one idea, excluding all others.
Egocentrism- Piagets term for young
childrens tendency to think about the world
entirely from their own personal perspective.
Focus on appearance- A characteristic of
preoperational thought whereby a young child
ignores all attributes that are not apparent.

Thinking During Early Childhood

Characteristics of preoperational thought:


Static reasoning- A characteristic of preoperational
thought whereby a young child thinks that nothing
changes. Whatever is now has always been and always
will be.
Irreversibility- A characteristic of preoperational thought
whereby a young child thinks that nothing can be undone.
A thing cannot be restored to the way it was before a
change occurred.
Conservation- The principle that the amount of a
substance remains the same (i.e., is conserved) when its
appearance changes.
Animism- The belief that natural objects and phenomena
are alive.

Thinking During Early Childhood

Thinking During Early Childhood


Vygotsky: Social Learning
Every aspect of childrens cognitive
development is embedded in the social
context.
Apprentice in thinking- Vygotskys term for
a person whose cognition is stimulated
and directed by older and more skilled
members of society.

Thinking During Early Childhood


Zone of proximal development (ZPD)Vygotskys term for the skillscognitive as
well as physicalthat a person can
exercise only with assistance, not yet
independently.
Scaffolding- Temporary support that is
tailored to a learners needs and abilities
and aimed at helping the learner master
the next task in a given learning process.

Thinking During Early Childhood


Private speech- The internal dialogue
that occurs when people talk to
themselves (either silently or out loud).
Social mediation- Human interaction that
expands and advances understanding,
often through words that one person uses
to explain something to another.

Thinking During Early Childhood


Children Theories
Theory-theory- The idea that children attempt
to explain everything they see and hear.
Theory of mind- A persons theory of what
other people might be thinking. In order to have
a theory of mind, children must realize that
other people are not necessarily thinking the
same thoughts that they themselves are. That
realization is seldom achieved before age 4.

Language
Vocabulary
Language is pivotal to every kind of
cognition in early childhood.
Early childhood is a sensitive period, the
best time to master vocabulary, grammar,
and pronunciation.
The average child knows about 500 words
at age 2 and more than 10,000 at age 6.

Language
The naming explosion (explained in
Chapter 3) becomes more general: Verbs,
adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions, as
well as many more nouns, are mastered.
Fast-mapping- The speedy and sometimes
imprecise way in which children learn new
words by tentatively placing them in mental
categories according to their perceived
meaning.

Language
Basic Grammar
The grammar of a language includes the
structures, techniques, and rules that
communicate meaning. Word order and word
repetition, prefixes and suffixes, intonation and
emphasisall are part of grammar.
Overregularization- The application of rules of
grammar even when exceptions occur, making the
language seem more regular" than it actually is.

Early Childhood Education


Child-Centered Programs

Stress childrens natural inclination to learn through play


rather than by following adult directions.
Encourage self-paced exploration and artistic expression.
Show the influence of Vygotsky, who thought that children
learn through play with other children and through cultural
practices that structure life.
Montessori schools emphasize individual pride and
accomplishment, presenting literacy-related tasks (such as
outlining letters and looking at books).
Reggio Emilia approach- A famous program of earlychildhood education that originated in the town of Reggio
Emilia, Italy; it encourages each childs creativity in a
carefully designed setting.

Early Childhood Education

Teacher-Directed Programs
Stress academic subjects taught by a teacher
to an entire class.
Children learn letters, numbers, shapes, and
colors, as well as how to listen to the teacher
and sit quietly.
Make a clear distinction between work and
play.
Are much less expensive, since the child/adult
ratio can be higher.

Early Childhood Education


Intervention Programs
Project Head Start- The most widespread
early-childhood education program in the
United States, begun in 1965 and funded by
the federal government.
At first, the program was thought to be
highly successful at raising childrens
intelligence; ten years later, early gains were
said to fade.

Injuries and Maltreatment


Accidents
Accidents are the leading cause of death
worldwide for people under age 40.
Among 2- to 6-year-olds in the United States,
four times more children die in accidents than
die of cancer, which is the second most
common cause of death.
Injury control/harm reduction- Practices
that are aimed anticipating, controlling, and
preventing dangerous activities.

Injuries and Maltreatment


Primary prevention- Actions that change overall
background conditions to prevent some unwanted event or
circumstance, such as injury, disease, or abuse.
Secondary prevention- Actions that avert harm in a highrisk situation, such as stopping a car before it hits a
pedestrian or installing traffic lights at dangerous
intersections.
Tertiary prevention- Actions, such as immediate and
effective medical treatment, that are taken after an adverse
event (such as illness, injury, or abuse) occurs and that are
aimed at reducing the harm or preventing disability.

Injuries and Maltreatment


Maltreatment
Child maltreatment
Intentional harm to or avoidable endangerment of
anyone under 18 years of age.

Child abuse
Deliberate action that is harmful to a childs
physical, emotional, or sexual well-being.

Child neglect
Failure to meet a childs basic physical,
educational, or emotional needs.

Injuries and Maltreatment

Injuries and Maltreatment


Consequences of Maltreatment
Severely maltreated children suffer
physiologically, academically, and socially in
every culture.
The worst consequence is that maltreated
children come to consider other people to be
hostile and exploitative. That belief makes
them fearful, aggressive, and lonely.
The earlier their abuse starts and the longer it
continues, the more trouble they have with
peers and adults.

Injuries and Maltreatment


Three Levels of Prevention Again
Primary prevention includes any measure that
reduces financial stress, family isolation, and
unwanted parenthood.
Secondary prevention may include home visits by
nurses, high-quality day care, and preventive social
workall designed to help high-risk families.
Tertiary prevention reduces harm when
maltreatment has already occurred. Requires
permanency planning, an effort to find a long-term
solution to the problem.

Injuries and Maltreatment


Foster care- A legal, publicly supported
system in which a maltreated child is
removed from the parents custody and
entrusted to another adult or family, which
is reimbursed for expenses incurred in
meeting the childs needs.
Kinship care- A form of foster care in
which a relative of a maltreated child,
usually a grand -parent, becomes the
approved caregiver.