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1 Sarah Neuhalfen Case Study Child Development May 12, 2006 James is a five year old boy and spends his days at the Manchester Early Learning Center. He is the average size for his age and has blond hair and blue eyes. He is very well behaved and usually remembers to use his manners when talking to people. James parents no longer live together, but he spends time with each individually. One of activities James loves is to sit down on the couch and listen to someone read him a story. His favorite books, however, are the Where s Waldo? series, and he can easily identify Waldo as soon as he turns the page since he looks at these books so often. He likes to play Chutes & Ladders, even though he does not yet understand the rules. When the day care provider needs help with anything, he is always the first to offer assistance. James is almost always laughing and giggling with anyone he talks to, and loves to make new best friends! Physical Development James physical development has always been that of normal children. During his stage of infancy and toddler, he went through the normal milestones of development. He could roll over before he was four months old and could sit up on his own within 3 months after that. By James first birthday, he could stand up by himself and started

2 walking shortly afterwards. According to Feldman, James met these milestones close to the typical ages of most infants and toddlers. James is now five years old and shows ordinary physical characteristics. He is nearly forty inches tall and his weight is like most other children of his age; he is neither overweight, nor underweight. His healthy height and weight may be a result of the fact that he eats well, both at home and at day care. His parents try to keep a healthy balance of foods, and James eats nearly all types of food given to him. James has had no serious illnesses while growing up. He gets a cold once in awhile, which can be expected with preschool children. The motor skills displayed by James are a mostly average for his age. During the day at day care, the children listen to songs that tell them to run, jump, walk, stop, skip, etc. James is able to run well and can control when he stops and starts running with little notice. He can jump in place, as well as jump while running. His fine motor skills are good as well. He is right handed, and can hold a pencil or marker properly. He has learned how way. When he to write his name and can write each letter in his name the correct colors, he has some difficulty staying in the lines still, but if he concentrates on the picture he is coloring, for the most part he can stay in line. Overall, James has developed normally in the physical aspect. His parents remember him meeting the average milestones as a toddler, and during observations, it is clear that he is continuing to develop at a normal rate for a five year old child.

3 Cognitive Development From birth to two years of age, James was in the sensorimotor stage of development, according to Piaget. This stage is also broken down by this psychologist into six substages. Based on observations of James as a five year old, it is assumed that he met each of these stages around the normal age that is expected. For the first month, his reflexes were the most important interaction, and by four months, actions could be combined into one activity. Between four and eight months, James began interacting with outside objects, and by the end of his first year, he gained object permanence. By the time he was a year and a half old, experimentation was exciting and he performed actions to see what happened. Piaget s final stage, from eighteen to twenty four months, involves the child being able to understand symbolic thought. At five years old, James has entered the preoperational stage where his use of symbolic thinking increases, yet he still does not have a logical thought process. Conservation is a When shown two held the same amount, skill that James has not mastered yet at this age. containers of dirt which were different sizes, yet James could not understand how they could both hold the same amount of dirt. Children in the preoperational stage are also egocentric, and James has a difficult time understanding what other children in his class think or how they view a situation. One area James is good at is numbers and letters. He has learned to count and can identify what a number is when it is shown to him. He can also recite the alphabet and can write his name. James vocabulary is normal for a five year old, and he also has learned manners, such as please, thank you, and excuse me.

4 Social & Emotional James has developed a unique personality which makes it very entertaining to interact with him. During the prenatal period, some of his traits are determined by his genes calm baby passed on from parents. During his infancy, he was a very and did not cry more than normal children. He was very attached to his mother, like most infants and toddlers are, and was very friendly with other children of his age. As a preschooler, James teachers describe him as easygoing and even tempered. He gets along with his peers extremely well, and understands the need for sharing toys, books, or other materials. During observation times, James only cried twice, and both times occurred on the same day. He is well mannered and when he has something to share with the class he gets there attention by saying, Excuse me guys. I have something to show you. James understands the difference between boys and girls in very basic terms, such as that girls play with dolls and boys play with cars. He does not seem to react to racial differences with the children in his class of a different background; James treats them just like everyone else. At this stage, he can play cooperatively with others, though most of the time he likes to play with no more than one other person. His friendships are based on common interests and change periodically. Most of the boys wanted James as their friend and James told them that he would be best friends with everyone. One issue that the teachers commented on was that he sucks his thumb almost constantly, even though

5 he is five years old. In general though, James social skills were like that of normal preschoolers and his unique qualities made him quite a character! Reflection Observing at Manchester Early Learning Center was a great experience for me. I was able to see how children interact with their peers at the preschool stage. It was very interesting to see how much the children changed and developed over the short period of time I spent observing them. James was such a great subject for my case study because he was exciting and loved to participate in classroom activities. He played well with other children and also liked to help the teacher anytime she needed someone. His good manners and sense of humor made him stand out from the rest of the class in a positive way. Overall, this experience was enjoyable and educational for me. I hope to use what I have learned in the future as a teacher and as a parent to help me understand children better. Sources Feldman, Robert S. Child Development. New Jersey: Pearson, (Parent) Personal Interview. 5 Apr Dornuy, Theresa. Personal Interview. 3 Apr

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