Understanding Child Development
Our goals for each grade are based on an understanding of child development.
Child development usually is divided into four areas: social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language. In reality, the four categories are closely related and often overlap. Development in one area affects and is influenced by development in all other areas. Consequently, while we might focus on one area at a time, we really look at the whole child and the interplay of development and the mind.
Social/emotional development during the preschool years is about socialization. This is the process through which children learn values and norms of behavior. At the same time, children also are learning to become competent and confident individuals.
The goals for social/emotional development include:
- Achieving a sense of self.
- Taking responsibility for self and others.
- Behaving in a prosocial way.
Social and emotional development can be taught and nurtured when children are young. The best way to teach is by modeling, and our teachers continue to model pro-social behavior on a daily basis. Because early childhood is a prime setting for growth in this area, social/emotional development is an important focus.
Physical development includes children’s gross (large muscle) and fine (small muscle) motor skills. With more advanced physical development, children master increasingly sophisticated tasks and gain responsibility for their own personal needs (such as dressing themselves). Additionally, physical development can promote social/emotional development. As children learn what their bodies can do and take control of themselves, they gain self-confidence. In turn, the more they can do, the more willing they are to try new and challenging tasks.
Our goals in facilitating physical development include:
- Continuing to provide opportunities to develop gross motor control.
- Continuing to provide opportunities to develop fine motor control.
Cognitive development refers to the mind and how it works. It involves how children think, how they see their world, and how they use what they learn.
The goals for cognitive development include:
- Learning and problem solving.
- Thinking logically.
- Representing and thinking symbolically.
Language development includes understanding and communicating through words, spoken and written. In early childhood, language becomes the main tool for establishing and maintaining relationships with adults and other children. Because words represent objects and ideas, language development is closely related to cognitive development. Language and literacy also go hand-in-hand. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing develop interdependently in children. Language development includes receptive (understanding of language) and expressive (being able to communicate with words) language.
Stages of Emergent Reading:
- Exposure: Early contact with print and pictures (being read to; seeing adults read for pleasure and purpose).
- Exploring picture books: Both with and without print.
- “Reading” picture books: Relating pictures to real items (labeling objects; following the action; storytelling from pictures).
- Identifying symbols/signs/ labels/logos: Relating symbols to real things (classroom labels, stop sign, Cheerios, etc).
- Being aware that print (rather than pictures) carries the message.
- Reading one’s own “writing” (at all stages including pictures, scribbles or real letters). Identifying letter names, sounds (D is for Daddy).
- Recognizing one’s own name and a few other words (classmates’ names, or any other frequently seen words).
- Understanding print conventions (left to right, top to bottom, word spacing, simple punctuation).
- Reading independently: Words, phrases, sentences, books (including sounding out, know words, comprehension of what is read).
The goals for language development include:
- Listening and speaking activities.
- Reading and writing activities.
Individual Differences in Children
At Ramaz, we understand that children are individuals and learn in different ways. Children are born with different temperaments (behavioral styles), children have individual interests, and children have different learning styles. Children also come to school with different life experiences, different cultural backgrounds, and special needs.
We are committed to educating all of our children and constantly are reflecting on our teaching in order to support all the children in our classrooms and their particular needs.