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Chapter 7 Development Across the Lifespan


Chapter 7 Development Across the Lifespan The Preschool Years: Physical and Cognitive Development What s going on to effect development during the preschool years ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 7 Development Across the Lifespan

Chapter 7 Development Across the Lifespan
  • The Preschool Years Physical and Cognitive

Whats going on to effect development during the
preschool years (ages 3 thru 6)?
  • Preschool!
  • The start of intellectual and social interaction
  • Practice/preparation for childs formal education
  • TREMENDOUS growth and change during this
  • physical
  • (weight, height, nutrition, health, physical
    brain changes, motor skills)
  • Cognitive
  • (intellectual development, language)

Physical Growth The Growing Body
  • Preschool age childrens physical abilities
    advance significantly (compared to infancy stage)
  • Children grow steadily during the preschool

Physical Development Gaining Height Weight
The figures show the median point for boys
girls at each age (50 of children above this
point, 50 below)
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These averages mask individual differences in
height weight
  • By the age of 6, boys are taller and heavier, on
    average, than girls.
  • There are profound differences in height and
    weight between children in economically developed
    countries and those in developing countries.
  • Nutrition, healthcare
  • Differences in height and weight also reflect
    economic factors within the U.S.
  • Children whose families are below the poverty
    level are among the shortest of all preschool age

Changes in body shape and structure occur during
the preschool years
  • Boys and girls become less chubby and roundish
    and more slender (no more potbelly!).
  • Arms and legs lengthen.
  • Children grow stronger as muscle size increases
    and bones become sturdier.
  • The sense organs continue to develop.
  • Body proportions are more similar to those of
    adults (relationship between head and body more

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Nutritional needs change during the preschool
years ( effect development!).
  • The growth rate slows during this age, thus
    preschoolers need less food to maintain their
  • Encouraging children to eat more than they want
    to, may lead to increased food intake.

(Nutrition during the preschool years, continued)
  • ? Increased food intake may lead to OBESITY,
    (defined as a body weight more than 20 higher
    than the average weight for a person of a given
    age and height
  • Obesity is more common among older preschoolers
    than it was 20 years ago
  • Obesity is brought about by both biological
    (genetics, responsiveness to sweets) and social
    factors (parental encouragement).

It is important not to force children to eat too
much in the mistaken belief that they need more
  • Children tend to be quite adept at maintaining an
    appropriate intake of food.
  • The best strategy is to ensure a variety of
    foods, low in fat and high in nutritional
  • Children should be given the opportunity to
    develop their own natural preferences for foods
    (no one food is indispensable!)

Health Illness during the preschool years
  • The majority of children in the United States are
    reasonably healthy.
  • For the average American child, the common cold
    is the most frequent, and most severe, illness.
  • The proportion of children immunized in the U.S.
    has fallen during some portions of the last two

Recommended immunization schedule (American Assn.
Of Pediatrics). In text
Although physical illness is typically a minor
problem during the preschool years, more children
are being treated for emotional disorders
  • The use of drugs such as antidepressants and
    stimulants doubled and tripled between 1991 and
  • Reason for increase is unclear
  • Quick fix for behavioral problems normal
    developmental difficulties?

Therapy is beginning to replace drugs as the
treatment of choice!
Numbers of Preschool Children Taking Medication
for Behavioral Problems
Injuries The Dangers that Preschoolers Face
  • ? The danger of injuries during the preschool
    years is in part a result of children's high
    levels of physical activity (they can get around
    on their own now!).
  • Poison, drowning in tub/pools, falls, burns
  • ? Some children are more apt to take risks than
    others, leading to more injury
  • Boys have higher injury rates.
  • ? Economic and ethnic differences exist in injury
  • Living in poverty environment 2x higher risk
  • Cultural differences in supervision, gender roles

The Consequences of Lead Poisoning
High levels of lead have been linked to higher
levels of antisocial behavior, including
aggression delinquency in school-age children.
Another factor effecting development during the
preschool years Brain Growth
  • ? The brain grows at a faster rate than any other
    part of the body!
  • By age 5, children's brains weigh 90 of average
    adult brain weight.
  • Brain growth is so rapid because of the increase
    in the number of interconnections among cells,
    and the increase in myelin (the protective
    insulation that surrounds parts of neurons).

The 2 halves of the brain begin to become more
differentiated and specialized
  • The left hemisphere focuses on verbal competence
    (speaking, thinking), and considers information
    sequentially (focus
  • on parts).
  • The right hemisphere concentrates on nonverbal
    areas (spatial relations, music, emotional
    expression), and considers information more
    globally (focus on wholes).

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(Brain lateralization continued)
  • The two hemispheres of the brain act in tandem
    (work together) despite specialization of
    hemispheres (they are interdependent, not
  • This specialization is studied using MRIs and
    the lateralization pattern is true for most

Looking Into the Brain
These scans show how different parts of the brain
are activated during certain tasks, illustrating
the increasing specialization of the brain.
(Brain lateralization continued)
  • There are many individual differences in the
    nature of lateralization, and in relation to
    gender and culture.
  • Males show greater lateralization of language in
    the left hemisphere, whereas for females,
    language is more evenly divided between the two
    hemispheres. (This may account for why female's
    language development proceeds at a more rapid
    rate during early childhood.)

(Brain lateralization continued)
  • The differences in lateralization between males
    and females may be attributed to both genetic
    (corpus callosum differenceslarger in women) and
    environmental factors (girls typically receive
    greater verbal encouragement).
  • (nature vs. nurture again!)

Links Between Brain Growth Cognitive
  • Neuroscientists are just beginning to understand
    how brain development effects cognitive
  • It seems that there are periods of childhood
    during which the brain shows unusual growth
    spurts which have been linked to advances in
    cognitive ability.
  • Spurts at age 1 ½ to 2 years of age linked to
    language increases

Brain Growth Spurt
Graph shows that brain activity increases
drastically during 1 ½-2 years of age when
language dramatically increases
Motor Development in the Preschool Years
(ages 36)
  • Both gross and fine motor skills become
    increasingly fine-tuned during this age.
  • Preschoolers' level of activity is
    extraordinarily high.
  • According to research, the activity level at age
    3 is higher than at any other point in the
  • (Eaton Yu, 1989 Poest et al. 1990)

(Motor Development in the Preschool Years
  • ?Girls and boys differ in certain aspects of
    motor development.
  • Boys, because of increased muscle strength, tend
    to be somewhat stronger.
  • Girls tend to surpass boys in tasks of dexterity
    or those involving the coordination of limbs.

Some major gross motor skills in early childhood
  • Hopping
  • Skipping
  • Running
  • Throwing
  • (see table emphasizes how gross motor skills
    improve with time)

Fine Motor Skills are also developing during
this period
  • Using utensils to eat
  • Cutting things with scissors
  • Tying shoelaces
  • Drawing shapes
  • Puzzles
  • Require much more practice than gross motor

A final component of motor development Handedness
  • Preference begins in infancy, but more finalized
    in the preschool years
  • Most preschool children show a clear preference
    for the use of one hand over another - the
    development of HANDEDNESS.

(Handedness Continued)
  • 90 of preschoolers are right-handed
  • more boys than girls are left-handed (so there
    IS a gender difference)
  • There is no scientific basis for myths that
    suggest there is something wrong with being

Intellectual Development In the Preschool
  • How do the dramatic advances in intellectual
    development that begin during the preschool years
    take place?
  • We will consider several different explanations

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Cognitive Changes that occur during the
preschool years Intellectual Development
  • Piaget's Stage of Preoperational Thinking
  • Piaget saw the preschool years as a time of both
    stability and great change.
  • Preschoolers are in the PREOPERATIONAL STAGE,
    from age 2 to 7
  • characterized by symbolic thinking
  • Mental reasoning emerges, use of concepts
  • Less dependence on sensorimotor activity for
    understanding the world

(Piaget's Stage of Preoperational Thinking
  • A key aspect of preoperational thought is
    symbolic function ( the ability to use symbols,
    words, or an object to represent something that
    is not physically present).
  • Using word duck as a symbol for an actual duck
  • Understanding that a toy duck represents an
    actual duck
  • Symbolic function is directly related to language

The relationship between language and thought
  • For Piaget, language and thinking are
    interdependent (advances in language during the
    preschool period advances in thinking)
  • Language allows preschoolers to represent actions
  • Language allows children to think beyond the
    present to the future.
  • Language can be used to consider several
    possibilities at the same time

Do improved language abilities in preschoolers
lead to improvements in thinking ability, or is
it the reverse? A controversial question in the
field of psychology!
  • Addressing the question if thought determines
    language or if language determines thought,
    Piaget argued that language grows out of
    cognitive advances (more sophisticated thinking

Another aspect of intellectual development during
the preoperational period (according to Piaget)
  • C ENTRATION - the process of concentrating on one
    limited aspect of a stimulus and ignoring other
    aspects (buttons)
  • a major characteristic of preoperational thought
  • the major limitation of this period because it
    leads to inaccuracy of thought.
  • The cause of the childrens mistake is allowing
    the visual image to dominate their thinking
    (appearance is everything!)

Centration What You See is What You Think
Which row contains more buttons? Preschoolers
usually say that the bottom row has more because
it looks longer.
(an example of conservation of number, which we
will discuss)
Another aspect of intellectual development during
Piagets preoperational period
  • Egocentrism, the inability to take the
    perspective of others
  • EGOCENTRIC THOUGHT, thinking that does not take
    into account the viewpoint of others, takes two
  • 1) Lack of awareness that others see things from
    different physical perspectives.
  • Failure to realize that others may hold thoughts,
    feelings, and points-of-view different from one's

  • Not intentional/inconsideratejust lack of
    understanding that everyone doesnt view things
    like them!
  • Egocentrism is at the root of many preschool
    behaviors, for example, talking to oneself and
    hiding games (if I cant see you, then you must
    not be able to see me!).

More about intellectual development during
Piagets preoperational period
  • Preschoolers are unable to understand the notion
  • ( the process in which one state is changed into
    another - because they ignore the intermediate
    steps inability to understand/fill in sequences
    of change )
  • Pencil slugs crawling

The Falling Pencil Transformation
Children in the preoperational period are not
able to understand the successive transformations
that the pencil follows. They cannot see the
intermediary steps.
A number of advances in thought occur in the
preoperational stage.
  • 1) INTUITIVE THOUGHT (ages 4-7) the use of
    primitive reasoning and avid acquisition of
    knowledge about the world simply put CURIOSITY
  • Leads children to think they know all the answers
    for how the world operates, but no logical basis

(advances in thought occur in the preoperational
stage, continued)
  • Children begin to understand functionality - the
    concept that actions, events and outcomes are
    related to one another in fixed patterns.
  • Pushing pedals moves bike faster, remote button
    changes channels on TV

(advances in thought occur in the preoperational
stage, continued)
  • They begin to understand the concept of identity
    - that certain things stay the same regardless of
    changes in shape, size and appearance
  • Clay stretched out is the same amount of clay
    rolled into a ball
  • ? According to Piaget, understanding identity
    necessary for children to develop an
    understanding of conservation (which is required
    for the child to transition to the next stage in
    his theory)

Conservation Learning that Appearances are
  • Preschoolers do not understand CONSERVATION - the
    knowledge that quantity is unrelated to the
    arrangement and physical appearance of objects

Types of Conservation Problems
  • Number
  • Rearranging elements
  • The type of conservation task grasped the
  • Substance
  • Altering shape (clay, water)
  • Length
  • Altering shape, configuration
  • Area
  • Rearranging figures
  • Weight
  • Altering shape
  • Volume
  • Altering shape (water in container)

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Evaluating Piagets Approach to Cognitive
  • Critics of Piaget's theory argue that he
    seriously underestimated children's capabilities.
  • They argue that cognition develops in a
    continuous manner, not in stages.
  • They believe that training can improve
    performance in conservation tasks.
  • They also argue that Piaget focused too much on
    the deficiencies of young children's thought.

Information-Processing Approaches to Cognitive
  • View information processing as changing during
    the preschool years
  • 2 domains of cognitive development focused on
  • Understanding of numbers
  • Memory development

(Information-Processing Approaches to
Cognitive Development, continued)
Understanding of numbers
  • ? Information-processing theorists consider
    preschoolers understanding of numbers as
    sophisticated (although not totally firm)
  • The average preschooler is able not only to
    count, but to do so in a fairly systematic,
    consistent manner (aware that one number goes
    with each item, although may get names wrong).
  • By age 4, most can do simple addition and
    subtraction and compare quantities.

(Information-Processing Approaches to Cognitive
Development, continued) Memory development
  • AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORY, memory of particular
    events from ones own life, is not very accurate
    until after three.
  • Preschoolers autobiographical memories fade,
    they may not be accurate (depending when they are
    assessed), and they are susceptible to suggestions

(Memory Development in Information-Processing
Approaches, continued)
  • Preschoolers have difficulty describing certain
    information and oversimplify recollections which
    may have implications for eye witness testimony.
  • Young children are susceptible to suggestions
    from adults.
  • Questioning children right after the event and
    outside the courtroom may produce more accurate

The information processing approach to
understanding Cognitive Development
  • According to information-processing approaches,
    cognitive development consists of gradual
    improvements in the ways people perceive,
    understand and remember.
  • Preschoolers begin to process information with
    greater sophistication.
  • They have longer attention spans, attend to more
    than one dimensions of an object and can better
    monitor what they are attending to.

Information processing provides a clear, logical,
and full account of cognitive development.
  • Reliance on well-defined processes that can be
    tested is one of this perspective's most
    important features.
  • But, there are some criticisms
  • Information processing theorists pay little
    attention to social and cultural factors.
  • Information processing theorists pay too much
    attention to detailed, individual sequence of
    processes that they never paint a whole,
    comprehensive picture of cognitive development.

Vygotsky's View of Cognitive Development Taking
Culture into Account
  • ? Culture and societies influence cognitive
  • Cognition proceeds because of social interactions
    where partners jointly work to solve problems
    (contrasts with Piagets emphasis on individual
    figuring things out alone).

Cognition proceeds because of social interactions
where partners jointly work to solve problems
  • The partnership is determined by cultural and
    societal factors
  • Institutions that promote development (play
    groups, preschools)
  • Emphasizing certain tasks (school, work)

  • According to Vygotsky, children's cognitive
    abilities increase when information is provided
    the level at which a child can almost, but not
    fully, perform a task independently, but can do
    so with the assistance of someone more

Sample Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD) for
Two Children
The two children have similar performances on
task completed without assistance. With
assistance, their performance improves. The
second child improves even more, and therefore
has a larger ZPD.
  • The assistance provided by other is called
    SCAFFOLDING, the support for learning and problem
    solving that encourages independence and growth.
  • The aid that more accomplished individuals
    provide to learners comes in the form of cultural
    tools ( the actual physical items such as
    pencils, paper, calculators, and computers)

  • Vygotsky's view has become increasingly
    influential in the last decade.
  • It helps explain a growing body of research
    attesting to the importance of social interaction
    in promoting cognitive development.
  • Criticisms
  • The zone of proximal development is not precise
    and not easily testable.
  • His theory is silent on how basic cognitive
    functions such as attention and memory develop.

The Growth of Language and Learning During the
Preschool Years Language Development
  • During the preschool years, language skills
    become more sophisticated
  • Young children begin this period with reasonably
    good linguistic (language) capabilities, but gaps
    in both language production (speech) and
    comprehension (understanding)
  • By the end of the preschool years, they can hold
    their own with adultslanguage skills develop

(Language Development, continued)
  • Between late twos and mid-threes, sentence length
  • SYNTAX (the ways words and phrases are combined
    to make sentences) doubles each month.

(Language Development, continued)
  • By age three, children use plurals and possessive
    forms of nouns (boys/boy's), employ the past
    tense (adding -ed), use articles (the/a), and can
    ask and answer complex questions ("Where did you
    say my book is?").

Illustrates the acquisition of some of the rules
of Language and supports Chomsky's claims of an
inborn ability to find grammatical structure.
(Language Development, continued)
  • By six, the average child has a vocabulary of
    14,000 words.
  • Preschoolers begin to acquire the principles
    of GRAMMAR, the system of rules that determine
    how our thoughts can be expressed .

Some more aspects of language development during
the preschool years
  • ? Preschoolers engage mostly in PRIVATE SPEECH,
    speech by children that is spoken and directed to
  • Vygotsky argues that private speech facilitates
    children's thinking, helps them control their
    behavior, solve problems and reflect (private
    speech cognitive development)
  • 20 to 60 of what children say is private speech

(language development during the preschool years
  • SOCIAL SPEECH (speech directed toward another
    person and meant to be understood by that person)
  • Children speak to others rather than
    babbling/speaking to self
  • Want others to listen
  • Become frustrated when unable to make themselves
  • Adapt their speech to others

The language children hear at home significantly
influences their language development.
  • Hart and Risley (1995) researched the effects of
    poverty on language.
  • How?
  • Studied the language patterns used by parents of
    different economic levels as they interacted with
    their children over a 2 year period

Hart and Risley (1995) found
  • Economic level was a significant factor in the
    amount of parental interactions, types of
    language children were exposed to, and kinds of
    language used.
  • Poverty was also related to lower IQ scores by
    age five
  • The longer children lived in poverty, the more
    severe the consequences

Differential Language Exposure
Parents at different economic levels provide
different language experiences. Professional
parents and working parents direct more words
toward their children than welfare parents? Why
could this be so?
Television Learning From the Media
  • Average preschooler watches 20 to 30 hours of TV
    a week!
  • Consequences of TV viewing are unclear.
  • Children do not fully understand the plots.
  • They may have difficulty separating fantasy from
  • Some information is well understood by young
    viewers, i.e. facial expressions.
  • Yet, much of what is viewed is not representative
    of events in the real world.

Television Time
  • ? Television may be harnessed to facilitate
    cognitive growth.
  • Sesame Street is the most popular educational
    program in U.S.
  • Viewers had significantly larger vocabularies.
  • Lower income viewers were better prepared for
    school, scored higher on tests of cognitive
    ability, and spent more time reading.

Television learning from the media?
  • Critics of Sesame Street suggest that viewers may
    be less receptive to traditional modes of
  • There are difficulties in assessing the effects
    of educational viewing, (e.g. the effects may be
    related to parenting).
  • BUT overall the results of watching sesame
    street seem to be positive

Early Childhood Education
  • 3/4 of children in U.S. are enrolled in some kind
    of care outside the home.
  • Implicit or explicit teaching of skills
  • Major factor is working parents.
  • Evidence suggests that children can benefit from
    early educational activities.
  • good preschools clear cognitive and social
    benefits according to developmental psychologists

There are a variety of early education programs.
  • DAY CARE CENTERS are places that typically
    provide care for children all day, while their
    parents work.
  • Some are home-care.
  • Others are provided by organized institutions
  • Community centers, churches, synagogues,etc.
  • Often more stable/regulated.

(early education programs, continued)
  • PRESCHOOLS (nursery schools provide care for
    several hours a day, and are designed primarily
    to enrich the child's development.
  • More limited time (only 3-5 hours per day)
  • Mainly serve those in middle and higher
    socioeconomic levels
  • Montessori preschools

(early education programs, continued)
  • SCHOOL DAY CARE is a child-care facility provided
    by some local school systems in the United States
  • About ½ the states in U.S. fund prekindergarten
  • Often targeted at disadvantaged children
  • Often high quality care

Care Outside the Home
About 75 of children in the U.S. are enrolled in
some form of care outside the home.
There are pros and cons of attending early
education programs
  • Disadvantages found include children being
  • less polite
  • less compliant
  • less respectful of adults
  • sometimes more competitive and aggressive.
  • Advantages include increases in
  • verbal fluency
  • memory and comprehension tasks
  • self-confidence
  • independence
  • knowledge about the social world

  • The key factor in determining the effects of
    early education programs is quality.
  • Well-trained care providers.
  • Overall size of the group and the child-care
    provider ratio.
  • Curriculum.
  • No one knows how many programs in the U.S. can
    be considered high quality, but there are far
    fewer than desired!
  • The U.S. lags behind other industrialized nations
    in the quality, affordability, and availability
    of childcare.

Preschools Around the World
  • In France Belgium, access to preschool is a
    legal right!
  • In Sweden Finland, preschool care is provided
    automatically if needed
  • Russia has an extensive childcare system
  • This contrasts with the U.S., which has no
    national policy on preschool education or the
    general care of children!

The Purpose of Preschool
The main purpose of preschool is very different
in different cultures!
In the United States, preschools are viewed as
important in making children independent and
giving them a good start. The best-known program
designed to promote future academic success is
Head Start
  • Designed to serve the "whole child",
  • including physical health, self-confidence,
  • social responsibility, and social and
  • emotional development.

Is Head start successful?
  • Success is controversial!
  • Although graduates of Head Start
  • Tend to show immediate IQ gains,
  • these increases do not last.
  • BUT participants are more ready for future
    schooling and have better scholastic adjustment
  • (spend less time in special education, less
    likely to be held back)

Should we seek to improve cognitive skills
during the preschool years?
  • Developmental psychologist David Elkind argues
    that U.S. society tends to push children so
    rapidly that they begin to feel stress and
    pressure at a young age.
  • Better to provide an environment where learning
    is encouraged, not pushed.
  • Children require developmentally appropriate
    educational practice, based on both typical
    development and the unique characteristics of a
    given child.

  • Pushing children to succeed may only be overdone
    in middle and higher socioeconomic groups, where
    more resources are available
  • For poorer children, the benefits of formalized
    early learning programs probably outweigh the
  • (can compensate for lack of economic resources
    and less stimulating home environments)

  • Keep up with your reading!

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