Chapter 6: physical and cognitive development in early childhood Flashcards Preview

Developmental PSYC213 > Chapter 6: physical and cognitive development in early childhood > Flashcards

Flashcards in Chapter 6: physical and cognitive development in early childhood Deck (30):

Bodily Growth and Change 3-5 year olds

• 3-5-year-olds grow from 95 to 109cm

• 3-5-year-olds grow from 14 to 18kg

Growth is cephalocaudal

• Limbs lengthen

• Proportion of body fat decreases
• Brain develops
• Skeleto-muscular system strengthens

• Permanent teeth emerge 



Impact of size variation

Larger than average child

Smaller than average child

Larger than average children may:

  • Be excluded for ‘roughness’
  • Lack challenges
  • Have more expected of them

Smaller than average children may:

  • Be injured by larger children
  • Lack mastery in normative tasks of strength and endurance
  • Be ‘babied’ — low self-confidence 


Health and illness

• Pre-schoolers more likely than adults to get acute infectious diseases such as ear infections and stomach upsets

   • Immune system not yet fully developed
• Many infectious diseases eliminated by vaccination in industrialised nations

• Significant differences in developing countries

• UNICEF goal (MDG4) – to reduce child mortality by two thirds by 2015 


Child mortality rates

A image thumb

Child injuries

• ‘Unintentional’ injuries more accurate term than ‘accidental’ injuries

• Child factors influencing injury include sex and temperament

• Parental factors: poverty, maternal employment, beliefs about preventability

• Societal conditions play a role (international differences)

• Intentional injury or physical abuse also a serious problem 


Deaths and unintentional injuries in Australia

  • Overall, a low rate of death
  • In 2003, child deaths accounted for 1.3% of all deaths registered
  • Most child deaths are of infants aged < 1 year (68% of deaths of 0-14-year-olds in 2003) and are related to perinatal and congenital factors
  • However, after infancy period, injury deaths (e.g., transport accidents, drownings, assaults) emerge as leading cause of death for children
  • From 1999-2003, 41% of all deaths of children aged 1-14 years were injury deaths (1,260 children) 


Motor development



Gross Motor Development

• Large muscle groups

• Centre of gravity moves downward, allowing for new motor skills to develop

• Ball throwing, jumping, running  

Fine Motor Development

• Using eye-hand and small muscle coordination

• Buttoning a shirt, drawing 


Gross and fine motor skills by age

A image thumb

Artistic development

• Scribbles: during 2nd year

• Shapes: circles, squares, triangles (3-4yrs)

• Designs: combine shapes into more complex designs (4yrs)

• Pictorial: draw actual depictions of objects, such as houses and trees (4- 5yrs) 

A image thumb

Variations in motor development

sex differences

cultural differences

Sex differences

• Boys slightly stronger than girls

• Girls marginally better at balance and coordination tasks

• May be related to social factors

Cultural differences

• May be related to child-rearing practices

• Cultural and sex differences smaller than individual differences 


Piaget's Cognitive development

Pre-operational stage (2-7 years)

• Symbolic representations supersede sensorimotor activities

—Pretend play


• Understand constancies as well as object permanence

• Start to internalise functional relationships 


Piaget's cognitive limitations: Conservation

Something remains the same even if its appearance is altered

  • Matter/mass
  • Liquid
  • Length
  • Number
  • Area
  • Volume 

preoperational children are not meant to understand conservation

A image thumb

Why Can’t Preoperational Children Conserve? 

• Centration: focus on one aspect and neglect others (e.g., height of liquid not volume)

• Irreversibility: Failure to see that an action can go in two or more ways; cannot mentally reverse a set of steps

• Focus on successive states: tendency for preoperational children to focus on the end states rather than the transformations from one state to another 


Other cognitive limitations of preoperational children

• Number skills – questions concerning understanding of numerical concepts

• Classification skills – limited to basic level categories and incapable of taxonomic categorisation

• Animism – tendency to apply attributes of living things to inanimate objects

• Magical thinking – attribute inexplicable events to magic or fantasy figures 



Egocentrism: Confusing one’s own perspective with that of another’s

  • Not being able to take another’s view/perspective
  • Believing the universe centres around the self
  • Piaget believed that children under 8 years lack a theory of mind
  • Wimmer and Perner (1983): False belief task
    • Suggests earlier development of theory of mind 


Egocentrism: Piaget’s Three Mountain Task 

  • The pre-operational child is unable to describe the mountains from the doll’s point of view.
  • Four-year-olds always point to photos that show their own view.
  • At 7 years they point to the picture that corresponds to the doll’s view. 

A image thumb

Theory of Mind

  • While Piaget said that children younger that about 8 do not have ToM, research has found that children as young as 2-5 years may have ToM
  • Piaget’s methodology flawed:
    • Asked abstract questions
    • Needed to ask concrete questions 


Moral reasoning

• Piaget observed children playing games with rules

• Three phases of moral reasoning:

   • Amoral (very young children)
   • Heteronomous morality (4-5yrs)
   • Autonomous morality (10yrs)

• Later research suggests evidence for earlier advancement 


Language acquisition

Expressive language

Receptive language



• Rapid expansion, closely involved in the development of cognitive skills

  • Expressive language: words, signs, gestures
  • Receptive language: Understanding what is communicated
  • Phonology: basic sounds of the language
  • Pragmatics: how language is used in context 


Semantic development

Semantics: receptive language

•Rapid expansion of vocabulary - nouns generally emerge before verbs

•Overextensions common up to 2 years

•Mispronunciation due to lack of phonemic mastery 


Semantic development

Fast mapping

Syntactic bootstrapping

Fast mapping: growth in receptive language
• Child learns the meaning of a word after hearing it only once or twice

• By age 3, average child knows 900-1000 words

• By age 6, they know about 2,600 and understands more than 20,000

Syntactic bootstrapping: use of contextual cues

• Unfamiliar words learnt through grammatical context in which they are found 


Grammatical development





• Can be a word ‘pig’ or part of a word ‘(pig)sty’

• Prefixes and suffixes that carry meaning of plurality and tense (e.g., ‘s’, ‘ed’)

• Pitch or tone

• Order of morphemes 


Telegraphic speech (18-24 months)

Telegraphic Speech (18-24mths):
• 2-3 essential words expressing an idea

• Competence in syntax gradually increases 



comprehension of when, how and where to use different language forms

Pragmatics of language

• Use in context
• Polite forms of address

Conversational skills develop
• Move from collective monologues

    • Conversations where utterances are uncoordinated and not taking into account what the speaker has said

• Start to adopt referential skills
     • Ability to communicate information, thoughts, intentions,

feelings accurately to another person

• Use non-verbal cues 


Theories of language

Learning theory (Skinner 1957)

Recent research

Learning theory: Skinner (1957)

• Behaviourist view

• Contingent reinforcement for effective communication

• Parents reward correct speech by responding positively

• Shaping
More recent research

• Limited evidence for simple reinforcement 


Theories of Language Acquisition: Social Learning Theory 

• Bruner (1996): parents central in providing scaffolding for emerging language

• Parents tend to use child-directed speech, and techniques of recasting and expansion

• Scaffolding developed and staggered to reflect complexity of language development

• Imitation and linguistic play also key 


Theories of Language Acquisition: Nativist Approach 

  • Chomsky (1959, 1994): language skills hard-wired at birth through innate Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
  • Universal grammar enable assimilation
  • Support from the development of signing in deaf childrenand Berko’s (1958) ‘wug test’
  • Limitations in the role of the environment and failure to account for semantics and pragmatics
  • Synthesis of innate capacity and behaviourist principles most likely explanation 


Delayed Language Development 

• About 5-8% of preschool children experience delays in speech and language

• May be problems in fast mapping

• Many children catch up – especially if comprehension is normal

    • Dialogic reading:

       • Prompts

       • Evaluates

       • Expands

       • Repeats 


Language Development of Deaf Children 

  • May not exhibit spoken language but rather build personal gestural systems
  • Idiosyncratic systems more common where deaf children have hearing parents
  • Language argued to define ‘Deaf’ as a unique culture
  • Adoption of sign language as a first language requires the adoption of social attitudes and cultural values 


Sing language forms

• E.g., Auslan, BSL, ASL
• Have own inherent grammar and vocabulary, with variations for region, ethnicity, SES etc.

• Iconic - words have visual similarities that convey meaning

• Deaf infants follow similar sign language development to hearing children’s spoken language development