Submitted By lolodana
PRESCHOOL OBSERVATION PAPER
Part I Setting
July 22, 2009, 3:30 PM, Pilgrim Lutheran Preschool Chula Vista, CA.
Addie, almost 3 years old Each classroom was made up of two adults and a specific age group of preschoolers, from 2 ½, 3, 4, or 5 years old. In the classroom where I began my observation there were two teachers and nine children (we later moved to the playground). I felt that the preschool was a very safe environment for the children. The front yards of the school were completely fenced so no children can run off the property. It seemed to be a healthy place for the children to play both inside and out. The preschool is very spacious and it is across the parking lot from the elementary school it feeds into. Approaching the preschool you are greeted by large, blue letters, “PILGRIM LUTHERAN PRESCHOOL”. There is a gate in the middle of the fence with a handle so that only a certain height can reach. On either side of the path to enter the main building is a nice green lawn where the children can play with toys for outside. As the door is opened you hear an alarm beep which to me said this school is a safe place for these kids, the teachers are always aware when someone walks into the building. There is a spacious kitchen where the teachers prepare their snacks for their class. There are four classrooms for the four specific age groups. Each classroom was equipped with desks and chairs suitable for young children in preschool. There was an art table where there were coloring sheets, crayons, and markers for the children to draw and doodle pictures. Another corner was filled with costumes and props for children to play dress-up. The day of my observation there were doctor props where the children had medical kits and doctor gowns to pretend they were checking on the patients. Yet another section of the classroom was filled with books for story time. There were lots of books and bible stories for the children to look at and listen to. Not to mention an area for playing with building blocks where they can be little engineers and architects. In each area there was more than enough space for the children to play comfortably. Preschool is the time when children learn how to interact with teachers and their peers. Of course there were bound to be some disputes over toys and not sharing but besides that the children got along well with each other. They were excited to play together and show each other new things. The adults were very aware of the children at play and only used harsh tones when they repeated themselves more than a couple times to those children who kept disregarding the rules (mostly outside). For the most part it was a very pleasant and healthy interaction between the children and the adults. The children liked to show the adults their impressive accomplishments and the adults provided praise for the children’s hard work. My impression of the preschool was I would completely consider sending my own children here when the day comes. This preschool had a good number of boys and girls to each class room. The classroom I was in had five boys and four girls. They were all dressed in very nice, light, summer clothes. By the book area they had a small chart with numbers in English and Spanish. The classroom had a poster of many children from different places all around the world holding hands showing that Jesus loves all the children in the world! The overall setting of the room is very lively and happy a very fun environment for learning in my opinion. All the children were busy having fun with a great big smile. When I arrived at the preschool for my observation, I went to the three year olds classroom. There I was welcomed by the adults while the children were busy with inside play time. While the children were playing, the teachers had kid’s praise songs on the CD player. Some of the children were even dancing and singing to the songs of worship, this instantly put a smile on my face! Other children were busy trying to give their patients shots and checking their ears and mouths for checkups while playing dress-up as doctors and nurses. A few others were building roads and tall towers with wooden blocks and legos. And finally there were some little girls at the art table coloring and drawing pictures for their take home folders. This is where I spotted Addie.
Part II Description of the child I chose Addie because when I first stepped into their classroom she gave me a little corner smile but seemed a little timid which reminded me a little of myself when I was in preschool. Addie is about two and a half feet tall, has curly brown hair and big, round brown eyes. She is smaller than most of her classmates, probably has a growth spurt coming soon! Although she is a little smaller than her classmates she appears very healthy and lively just as they do. She is wearing a purple shirt with light blue capris, white socks and pink shoes.
Part III Biosocial Domain Addie does appear to be a little more petite than her classmates. Most children at age two weigh around 30 pounds and are about three feet tall (Berger, Body Size, pg 131). Addie is about to be three years old and is a few inches shorter than most children are by age two. However, she does not have a protruding belly. She is beginning to have more of a young child look than that of a toddler look. The proportion of legs to body changes significantly from 18 months to 5 years of age, including the lengthening of the torso (Lecture, Ch.8).Addie seems very healthy and has no signs of nutritional deficiencies. She is a bit smaller in size when put beside her peers a reason for this is genetic influence on height and weight (Lecture, Ch.8). Addie is an overall healthy three year old girl who is outgrowing the toddler look with good weight and height proportions. Addie demonstrated her right handedness at the art table. She picked up the crayon with her right hand and started drawing a picture. Handedness is influenced by genes; however, many cultures try to impose right handedness onto children making it seem that the left hand is “unclean” (Berger, The Left-Handed Child, pg. 226). She also showed good coordination while she was coloring. After she drew the shape of a flower, she embellished it to make it more detailed. This action must include both sides of the brain working together because the left side notices detail and the right side on the other hand takes in the image as a whole (Berger, The Whole Brain, pg. 227). Preservation is described as the repeated action or thought for some period of time (Berger, Impulsiveness and Preservation, pg. 228). In my observing Addie I noticed preservation more than once, in this case as she was coloring she kept repeating, “This picture’s for MY mommy, is for my mommy.” This is due to an underdeveloped and immature prefrontal cortex. This behavior will lessen over the next years of early childhood as her brain matures (Berger, Impulsiveness and Preservation, pg. 228-229). I was able to observe both gross and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are abilities that involve small body movements mainly with hands and fingers (Berger, Fine Motor Skills, pg. 147). Addie demonstrated fine motor skills as she used her hand and fingers to keep the paper steady and draw on it. On the other spectrum, gross motor skills are abilities involving larger body movements like running and jumping ( Berger, Gross Motor Skills, pg. 146). Addie showed off her gross motor skills when the kids were playing outside on the playground. She would run back and forth to the water fountain and jump off the booster to reach the fountain. Comparing Addie to the norm for motor skill development by age 2 most children climb chairs, draw lines and spirals, and run for pleasure occasionally bumping into things. Most 3 year olds can kick and throw a ball, jump leaving both feet of the ground, and copy simple shapes (Berger, Table 8.1, pg. 232). She matches most of the norms that fit with the three year olds. Addie is on the same page as the children in her class are when involving gross and fine motor skills. She seems to be in great shape and good physical development.
Part IV Cognitive Domain Piaget developed four stages of cognition. The second stage in within the stages of cognition is early childhood in which thinking is considered to be preoperational. Preoperational thinking is seen between the ages of 2 to 6 (Berger, Piaget: Preoperational Thinking, pg. 249). Piaget established that in early childhood there were four specific characteristics which make it difficult for logical thought: centration, focus on appearance, static reasoning and irreversibility (Berger, Obstacles to Logical Operations, pg. 250). Centration refers to when a child only focuses on one aspect of the situation (Lecture, Ch. 9). Addie displayed centration when I told her my boyfriend’s sister’s name is Addie, she replied, “No my name’s Addie,” with a smile on her face. Quite different to Piaget’s thoughts of egocentrism, Vygotsky was the first developmentalist to point out that children are sensitive to others thoughts and emotions. Vygotsky believed cognitive developmental goes hand in hand with the social context the children are in (Berger, Vygotsky: Social Learning, pg. 253). Children are guided and directed by older and more skillful members of society (Lecture, Ch.9). Addie demonstrated this idea of apprentice in thinking when she agreed to let an older child at preschool help her build a sandcastle. The older child did not completely take over her castle, Addie watched as she saw what he did to help make the castle even bigger. Later, she would do the same and he encouraged her which made Addie happy and excited. Another one of Vygotsky’s observations of apprenticeship is guided participation. In guided participation children learn from others who guide their experiences (Berger, Children as Apprentices, pg. 253). She can be a mentor to others because she learned from an older peer. Children develop theories to explain what they see or hear around them and why people behave the way that they do. During my time at the preschool I did not observe any of the children’s theories at work. The theory of mind is a child’s theory of what other people may be thinking. However in order to do this the child must realize that others will not always be thinking what they themselves are thinking. Theory of mind is rarely seen displayed in children younger than 4 years old (Berger, Theory of Mind, pg 258). The other children’s theory is the theory-theory. The theory-theory reveals that children try to come up with their own theories as to why they see and hear the things around them (Berger, Theory-Theory, pg. 256). Children try to explain behaviors and observations they encounter. Nearly half of the questions asked by the 3,4, and 5 year olds are concerning human behavior followed by questions in biology and why things look the way they do (Lecture, Ch.9).
Part V Language Development Vygotsky believed that language is an essential tool for cognitive development. Language contributes to thinking in two ways: internal dialogue and social interaction (Berger, Language as a Tool, pg. 255). Private speech is the internal discussion that is seen when children talk to themselves (Lecture, Ch.9). I observed private speech in Addie when she was drawing a picture at the art table. She was talking to herself out loud saying, “I’m gonna color a picur for my mommy, I am going to give her it.” Older preschoolers are more selective and effective when using private speech, most times only a whisper is heard. (Berger, Language as a Tool, pg.255). Language is an essential part of communication between the children and the adults at preschool. Another way language provides advancement in thought process is social meditation. Social mediation is the speech that arises from formal instruction with teachers and conversation with peers and friends (Berger, Language as a Tool, pg. 255). After Addie finished drawing one of her pictures and adult came over to tell her it looked lovely and asked, “Addie, how many flowers did you color, can you count them with me?” They both started to count the flowers on her sheet of paper. The adult is mentoring the child and this is possible with language. It is easy to see that children are developing language skills very rapidly in early childhood. At age 2 the average child knows about 500 words and by age 6 this number increases significantly to more than 10,000 words (Berger, The Vocabulary Explosion, pg. 261). Two year olds use short sentences with telegraphic structures (Berger, Language, pg. 260). Addie’s speech was easy to understand for the most part. She added and –sh ending to a lot of words. Her sentence structure was a little more developed than that of an average 2 year old. She used longer sentences but still does not have the sentence structure that an older preschooler has. By 4 years old, the length of a sentence can be from 5- 20 words (Berger, Table 9.1, pg. 261). She did not have perfect grammar because she hasn’t mastered the rules and exceptions in the English language. For instance, “I give this to my mommy,” instead of using the future tense. She liked to listen to conversations between her other classmates and once in a while even jumped in to make a comment like “me too!”. Addie is between the stages of language where her vocabulary will begin to increase significantly over just a few months. One of the ways children are able to pick up such an extensive vocabulary and such a short amount of time is the process of fast-mapping. Fast-mapping is the process in which children familiarize themselves with new words by placing them in mental categories according to what they think the meaning is (Berger, Fast-mapping, pg. 261). I did not observe any fast-mapping while I was there but I am sure that Addie is practicing it a lot both at home and at preschool.
Part VI Psychosocial Domain Addie showed pride in a lot of her creations. After she colored her picture she had a big smile on her face, she knew her mom would love it. She said, “My mommy gonna love my picur!” Erikson’s third psychosocial dilemma was initiative versus guilt where children try knew tasks and feel guilty or ashamed when they do no accomplish them (Berger, Initiative Versus Guilt, pg. 278). Addie did not show any guilt after her first attempt at making a sand castle. When it fell apart, she said, “OOPSIE!!” and giggled. She did not cry or feel ashamed that it fell apart. She has a good self-esteem which is described in the book as the belief in one’s self and their abilities (Berger, Initiative Versus Guilt, pg. 278). Addie knows she can accomplish certain tasks on her own but also realizes that she may need help with other ones and she does not mind. Most 2 year olds are stubborn and by 5 years old that stubbornness becomes self-motivation (Berger, Initiative Versus Guilt, pg. 278). Addie is not stubborn as most 2 year olds are she likes to undertake tasks and asks for help if needed. Addie did not show any signs of guilt and shame while I was doing my observation. Guilt is the idea that people blame themselves for doing something wrong, while shame is the idea that other people blame them and are ashamed of them (Berger, Guilt and Shame, pg. 279). Children control their emotions by becoming motivated, this is one example of emotional regulation. In extrinsic motivation there is an incentive for reaching the goal. Addie showed extrinsic motivation when the adults said that it was time to clean up to go outside. She started putting all the crayons away because she knew she would get to go play outside after the task was done. Children need to have some emotions such as shame and guilt in order to have emotional balance, if not it may lead to disorders of the mind (Berger, Seeking Emotional Balance, pg. 281). If there is not emotional control, some emotions can be very severe and intense. These intense emotions are seen in two very different ways externalizing problems or internalizing problems (Berger, Externalizing and Internalizing Problems, pg. 281). When children have externalizing problems they express their power feelings for a lack of emotional regulation by the inability to control verbal and physical outbursts. On the other hand when children have internalizing problems they turn their feelings inwards and have unnecessary feeling of guilt and shame(Berger, Externalizing and Internalizing Problems, pg. 281). In both cases the problems arise for a lack of emotional regulation. Addie did not display any signs of externalizing or internalizing problems. As children play with each other they develop moral emotions. Empathy is when someone understands the feelings of others (Berger, Empathy and Antipathy, pg. 294). Addie showed empathy to another little girl after she began to cry because a little boy wouldn’t share a lego. Addie found another lego and said, “Here ish another one.” The little girls smiled at Addie and took the lego and continued to play. Addie understood that the little girl was sad because of the lego and found another one for her. This action also seems to be a prosocial behavior. Prosocial behavior is expressing helpfulness and kindness even if it does not benefit themselves in any way (Berger, Empathy and Antipathy, pg. 294). The opposite emotion of empathy is antipathy where people display dislike or hatred towards another person (Berger, Empathy and Antipathy, pg. 294). She did not show antipathy towards anyone during my observation. She was never deliberately mean towards any other child at the preschool. Antipathy leads to antisocial behavior just as empathy leads to prosocial behavior. Antisocial behavior is purposefully hurtful and negative feelings and actions towards another person (Berger, Empathy and Antipathy, pg. 294). From about 3-6 years of age children are increasingly emotionally stable and with that their moral emotions and moral behavior increase as well (Berger, Empathy and Antipathy, pg. 294). Addie’s emotional regulation is increasing she is at the average age that children become deliberately prosocial. Erikson knew that most young children would typically display some sort of immodest self-concepts. (Berger, Pride, pg. 278). When children display preference behavior it is pride towards a specific group they belong to whether it be a nationality, socioeconomic, religion etc. Addie did not display any signs of preference or prejudice behavior. When children exhibit prejudice behavior towards others who are not in the same “group” as they are they feel sorry for or look down on them (Berger, Pride, pg. 279). Addie did not demonstrate many signs of gender awareness. Children become more aware of gender every year (Berger, Becoming Boys and Girls, pg. 299). At around 5 years old children become even more aware of differences in gender. Addie did not demonstrate many signs of gender awareness, however, she did know to call her teachers Mrs. or Miss because they were girls. Most 2 year olds are able to realize and use gender labels (Berger, Sex and Gender, pg. 299). Addie gets along well with all of her friends and peers at preschool. She is more on the timid side and she just goes with the flow. I don’t think she has any sort of aggression issue towards anyone at preschool. As children play together they develop the tools they need such as emotional regulation and empathy to help control their aggressive impulses (Berger, Aggression, pg. 295). Addie is a very sweet girl and has a good temperament. Temperament is defined as individual differences in emotions and self-regulation (Berger, Temperament, pg. 197). It has been found that temperament is originated by a person’s genes so it is hereditary, however it is also contributed by how a child is brought up and their experiences (Lecture, Ch.7). Some dimensions of temperament I was able to observe in Addie were: mood, distractibility, activity level, and attention span. She is not easily distracted by others around her when she is busy playing or doing something and she is a very easy going and happy. She is a very active little girl who enjoys running and playing outside as much as she does sitting quietly and color or build inside.
Part VII Play There are a lot of opportunities to observe children at play especially in a preschool setting. Parten distinguished five kinds of play each one increasing in interaction with other children than the previous stage (Berger, Changing Social Circumstances, pg. 285). The first stage of play is solitary play. In solitary play the child plays alone and is not aware of the other children playing around them (Lecture Ch. 10). Addie exhibited solitary play when she was coloring on her own as well as when she was building sand castles. The next stage is onlooker play when a child is watching the other children around play (Lecture Ch. 10). Some children, including Addie, were all taking turns running to the water fountain and back. As each child ran the ones who stayed back waiting for their turn would watch. Addie was displaying onlooker play. The following stage is parallel play where children play with similar toys and in similar ways but they do not interact with each other (Lecture Ch. 10). I did not observe Addie active in parallel play. After parallel play the next stage of play is associative play. In associative play the children work together in some ways like sharing materials and emotions but are not necessarily playing the same game or concerned if do not cooperate with each other (Lecture Ch. 10). I did not observe Addie engaged in associative play during my observation. The final stage of play is cooperative play in which the children play together and are working together creating and elaborate game (Lecture, Ch. 10). Addie did engage in cooperative play when a friend came over and helped her build her sand castle. They both began to build sand castles together and helped each other make trails to connect them. Another time Addie engaged in cooperative play was when she went to the play area where there were doctor costumes and medical props. This also leads to here displaying socio dramatic play. In socio dramatic play children act out different roles (Berger, Drama and Pretending, pg. 287). Fantasy or pretend play is common between ages of 3 and 6 (Lecture, Ch. 10). Addie put on a medical gown and pretended to be a doctor and check the patients. After bringing a stethoscope to another little boys heart she said, “You are OK!” In rough-and-tumble play children pretend to be aggressive by wrestling, chasing and hitting but not as to harm anyone (Berger, Rough-and-Tumble Play, pg, 286). Rough and tumble is the most common type of active play. It is seen in every nation especially in young boys (Lecture, Ch. 10). Addie did not engage in rough-and-tumble play during by observation. Artistic expression is how children express themselves through their play. Children are unaware if their pictures are not to scale or lacks accuracy they are having fun because they are at play (Berger, Artistic Expression, pg. 235). Addie showed many forms of her artistic expression in her coloring, singing and playing. She was excited to draw pictures and to her they were “picture perfect!” She didn’t mind not knowing all the words to the songs that were playing but the parts she did know she gladly sang along. The adults happily encouraged the socio dramatic play and playing together. They also encouraged children who were playing on their own to join in with some of their peers, however they did not push them to do so if they chose not to.
Part VIII Significance and Application Addie seems to me as a normal happy, caring little girl. I really enjoyed the time I had to observe her and her stages of development. Although she is a little shy she not only enjoys playing on her own she gets out there to play with all of her other friends. It is important she plays together with other children because this is where children develop their morals. She has a good temperament and is not at all aggressive towards and of her peers. She has a well-sized vocabulary for almost being 3 years old and I am sure she will be learning more words with each an everyday. She will also increase her ability to create longer sentences with better grammatical structure but she is in the range of the average 2-3 year olds. Although she does not talk a lot she is mostly understood with ease. Addie’s cognitive domain is also well with the average of 3-4 year olds as she demonstrated centration with her name. She also followed Vygotsky’s theory of apprenticeship as she let both adults and older peers help her with other tasks and learned from it. She is within the range of most 3 year olds when it comes to motor skills development. She displayed both fine and gross motor skills when she was coloring and running and jumping around outside. Addie is a little on the smaller side than the average 3 year old but she looks healthy and well-proportioned. I believe her parents have an influence on her development. She seems like a very happy little girl I am sure that is a reflection of her life at home. Also her teachers at preschool play a very important part in her life right now as they help her while she is still developing both mentally and physically and spends many hours a day at preschool. This experience has helped me in many ways. When you have a child you must think of all the things that will be beneficial to them and one of the most important is schooling. After hanging out with the adults and children at this preschool I know what I would look for in a school. I feel that I learned a lot from this experience in learning the stages of development of children and how they interact with other children their own age. I am very excited for when the time comes for me to apply all that I have learned when I have my own children in my arms.
Works Cited Page
Berger, Kathleen Stassen. The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence. New York: Worth Publishers and Catherine Woods, 2009. Print.