Consider the multiple theories of child development you have been studying in this module. (Refer to the lecture and chapter readings for assistance and supporting evidence.) For your initial post, identify one chosen specific theory that you feel you identify within your approach as an educator. Support your choice with statements and examples from your own experience and understanding.
Explains a child’s development through genetics and biological changes.
Arnold Gesell’s theory included the idea that all development is governed by internal changes and explained development by age, called milestones, which children achieved at set points in their lives.
Psychoanalytic and Psychosocial Theory
Child behavior and development are governed by the unconscious processes of mainly social and emotional development.
Sigmund Freud believed that children behaved according to inner conflicts and originated the Psychoanalytic Theory, which says that a child’s personality is formed by how they resolve these inner conflicts.
Erik Erikson originated the Psychosocial Theory also believed that children learn by accomplishing certain inner conflicts. His theory is described as the Eight Stages of Man. The first four deal specifically with early childhood.
Trust versus Mistrust — ages birth through one year
Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt — ages 1-3 years
Initiative versus Guilt — ages 3-5 years
Industry versus Inferiority — ages 6-12 years
Constructivism believes that children learn and develop through actively exploring their environment.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) relies heavily on this theory.
Jean Piaget believed that children progress through four stages of intellectual (cognitive) development.
Sensorimotor – ages birth through 2 years
Preoperational – ages 2-7 years
Concrete Operational – ages 7-11 years
Formal Operational – ages 11-15 years
Lev Vygotsky believed that social interactions also played a very active role in how children learned. With this, he also shared the importance of language and speech in a child’s development and learning.
Zone of Proximal Development- children go through identified zones of development that are used to identify the child’s next step or growth area
Scaffolding – adults will assess the child’s ability level and then intentionally plan and guide with the goal of supporting the child’s growth to the next level of ability
Maria Montessori believed that there are differences in how all children learn and that every child has great potential. She believed that through self-exploration the child will thrive, though it is up to educators and parents to provide the opportunities for this self-discovery.
Behaviorism and Social-Learning Theory
Development is based upon learned behaviors that are based upon a child’s interactions with their environment and influenced by positive or negative reinforcement.
John Watson and B.F. Skinner introduced this theory and felt that children learned through a system of stimulus/response events.
Urie Bronfenbrenner felt that environment shaped children’s development and occurs on multiple layers, through the bio-ecological model.
Belief that development is affected by the environment which is thus constantly changing and redirecting development.
Anti-bias curriculum and many individualized assessment procedures have been greatly influenced by this theory.
Remember that theories are developed over time, and often will reflect the belief systems and values common to that society and time in history. Theories often will adjust when new scientific knowledge is gained, as in the understanding of how the brain develops. Recognizing the varying theories of child development will support the early childhood educator’s foundation of knowledge to ensure children’s needs are met in the environment and planned interaction