The understanding of stages and the nature of child development are crucial for educators. The developmental perspective fosters an understanding of the weaknesses and strengths of children in different age groups. Increasingly, the focus on child health, particularly developmental and behavioral perspectives, has emphasized a broader understanding of the capacities of children in cognition, language development, fine motor development, gross motor development, emotional responses, and social interactions. Experience in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of large numbers of children in these developmental areas enhances educators’ ability to add an important dimension to discussions about groups of children within the school and learning programs (Bee, 2000).
Why understanding of child development is necessary?
The understanding of child development allows educators to design programs according to the learning needs and cognitive development of a child. Also, emphasis is placed on the importance of emotional tone in even the most basic interactions. The curriculum contrasts emotional readiness for interaction with tense situations where teachers feel angry and put-upon by the needs of their young children. The understanding of child development and its stages has traditionally mimicked schools by bringing children together in groups for instruction and social interaction. In early intervention, there is a vital role for such based activities. The learning activities reflect an emphasis on the cognitive goals (Hendricl & Weissman 2005). The understanding of child development helps educators to assess child development and notice certain cognitive and physical deviations.
Critics underline that many educators and parents speed up children’s lives, introducing them to adult concerns earlier and earlier. The new emphasis on education must avoid the trap of turning 3-year-olds into 7 year-olds before their time. There is no hurry for little children to learn to read newspapers or financial reports; rather (Hendricl & Weissman, 2005). During each stage, children need the space, time, quiet, and support to work out for themselves the relationships between the people around them, the forces that they see and feel, and to quell the fears they imagine but cannot possibly understand.
Meaning for educators
As early childhood specialists design the days of little children, the hazard of losing even more of childhood should be kept firmly in mind. The other concern with the new emphasis on the intellectual and academic aspects of young children’s development is that the very tools that have been developed to erase the inequalities among social groups may perpetuate and exacerbate them. The understanding and analysis of the child development stages allow educators to design higher-quality programs and activities which meet the needs of a particular child. The possible problems caused by lack of knowledge are emotional distress and apathy, slow development of cognitive skills, and mental retardation. Children seem to be keeping up in school when the demands placed upon them are modest, but when the topics are too complex for them and the output demanded becomes more substantial, the children may show decreasing grades, sad affects, acting out behaviors, and general disinterest in school (Bee, 2000). The understanding of child development can be seen as a mechanism for assessing the health and developmental status of the child, determining current and future intervention requirements, and developing a plan to match services to needs (Hendricl & Weissman 2005). In education, recognizing the dynamic interplay between development, health, and the larger environment allows educators to outline a comprehensive plan of specific child-focused objective.
- Bee, H. (2000). Child and Adolescent Development. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.
- Hendricl, J., Weissman, P. (2005). The Whole Child: Development Education for the Early Years. Prentice Hall; 8 edition.