There are four different domains present in the growth process of children. These include the physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional domains. These five domains explain why children behave a certain way and react in other ways. The physical domain explains the various physical changes that are present during certain periods of growth for children. For example, it is easy to tell physical differences between a preschooler and a toddler. Preschooler’s body growth is larger than that of a toddler and the way a preschooler is able to walk, or run is more advance than that of a toddler. According to our textbook, a developing preschooler’s body size is much more apparent than that of a toddler or infant (REVEL, Chapter 8). Other physical growth that is evident during this time is skeletal growth. That includes the growth of things such as bones and teeth. Our textbook also describes how preschoolers are able to walk smoother than a toddler would be able to. According to the authors of REVEL, Berk and Meyers, “As the child’s center of gravity shifts towards the trunk, balance improves, thus paving the way for new gross-motor achievements. Preschoolers’ steps become smoother and rhythmic, which allows them to run, jump, hop, and gallop. Eventually, they are even able to skip, throw, and catch as they become more coordinated” (REVEL, Chapter 8). I found this statement to be true during my observations because the toddler’s movements I observed were uncoordinated and not very natural. Whereas the preschooler’s movements I observed were more confident and natural looking.
The preschooler I observed was a very active child. Physically speaking, she was at average height for her age and was physically fit for a four-year-old. Before going outside for play, my preschooler displayed her ability to walk in a straight line and her ability to walk up and down stairs while holding on to the side railing. Whenever her class went outside for free time, she displayed her ability to run smoothly across the playground, all while avoiding other playground objects and children that got in her way during a game of cops and robbers. My preschooler also displayed her ability to climb on the playground equipment during her outside play time. She displayed this by climbing up the sides of the playset and then sliding down the slides. In the classroom however, her movements were much calmer and more reserved. She walked softly wherever she went in the classroom and at times even showed her ability to tip-toe around her sleeping classmates.
As far as play in the classroom, my child enjoyed playing with play-doh or reading books. Outside of her play with the play-doh, I did not observe my child doing any type of drawings that would display any type of cultural variations within it. Cultural variations describe or represent the culture we live in. An example of this would be how parents in the United States teach their children to be more independent. Therefore, in children’s drawings or play and child will show more independence in the characters they draw or the roles they pick. Whereas in cultures such as the Chinese, children are taught to appreciate their surroundings or environment more than their independence. Chinese children are more likely to draw birds, fish, and butterflies because of this admiration of their surrounds. The book supports this statement when it says, “In China’s 4,000-year-old artistic tradition, adults showed children how to draw. All while encouraging them to master the precise steps of required to depict people, butterflies, fish, birds, and other images “(REVEL, Chapter 8).
There are several different theories that have shaped our perception on how children develop cognitively. Over the years, there are many different theorists who have given their insight and opinions on how children grow and think. Two particular theorist who stand out from this group are Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget’s theory consists of various different stages on why children think the way they do. These stages include the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage.
Piaget would say preschool age children that they are in the preoperational stage. This particular stage focuses on the ages 2-7 and it is responsible for the “development of language and make- believe play in the child” (REVEL, Chapter 1). Children in this stage can be characterized by egocentrism. This is because they believe everything is all about them and they are not able to view the world in more than on dimension. Preschool age children struggle to differentiate symbols and reality as well. Often times, preschoolers may believe their stuffed animal have feelings and can react to situations the same way they react to a situation. Children in the preoperational stage are not able to understand that properties can stay the same even if you change the shape or arrangement of the property.
Vygotsky however, believed in a zone of proximal development. At one end of the spectrum is the knowledge a child has already obtained and their current understanding of things. In this end of the spectrum, they are able to successfully accomplish task unassisted or on their own. The middle part of the spectrum, the zone of proximal development, is the knowledge the child is able to obtain through the help they receive from an outside source, such as an adult. The book confirms this by saying, “Vygotsky believed that as adults and more expert peers help children master culturally meaningful activities, the communication between them becomes part of children’s thinking” (REVEL, Chapter 1). The zone of proximal development is the area in which the child will learn the most the longer they stay in it. At the very far end of the spectrum, is knowledge that is out of reach to the child. This knowledge is impossible for the child to obtain at this current moment in his or her life no matter how much help he or she receives from an outside source.
I agree with Vygotsky’s theory more than Piaget’s theory because it is more relatable. This is because the more we grow and interact with individuals, the more we are able to begin to think and conform to behave in ways that individual would. When I was growing up, I would watch my older sisters interact with their friends and make every day decisions in our house such as picking snacks or clothing to wear. As I grew older, I used the way my sisters made decisions or interacted with their friends within my own friend groups. Although I may have been seen as the obnoxious little sister, my sisters helped shape me into the individual I am today.
Both theories highlight cognitive behavior and how different situations within our childhood can change the way we view things or interact with others. Thus, explaining when children play, why they have different perspectives within the way they play. Piaget’s example of play is make believe play and Vygotsky’s example of play is sociodramtic play. Make believe play is appropriate example of cognition because it helps the child with mental representation. With mental representation, imitation can be a common factor. An example of cognition I observed was when my preschooler pretended to fly a plane, with passengers, to Florida outside on the playground. She continued to do this as if she was really a pilot, flying passengers to actual places around the world.
Another domain present during the growth process of children is the language domain. In this domain, the advancement of speech is the primary focus. The text supports this statement by saying, “between the ages of 2 and 6, children make significant advances in language” (REVEL, Chapter 9). Preschool age children tend to learn, on average, 9 words a day. They begin to combine phrases into complex sentences and adjust their speech to fit certain social situations that they may be in. They do not fully understand passive sentences and tend to be very confused when they are talked to in a passive tone of voice. An example of a conversation I observed was with my preschooler and her teacher. When the teacher is painting the preschooler’s hand for a hand turkey activity she says, “it’s cold on my hand, when can we put more colors on?” the teacher responds to her with, “we are working on it right now” and the preschooler ends the conversations with, “this is so fun!”.
The social-emotional domain of child development involves how children interact with the world through learning about themselves. Within this domain, there are the different types of play. One type of play I am going to focus on is social play. The concept of social play came from the theorist Erik Erikson. According to our textbook, “Erikson regarded play as a means through which young children learn about themselves and their social world. Play permits preschoolers to try new skills with little risk of criticism and failure” (REVEL, Chapter 10).
During my observations I observed social play. During social play, children learn the concept of sharing ideas and toys, as well as following established rules and guidelines. This stage of play is where children learn to be more flexible, learn how to solve problems, and learn how to take turns with each other. An example of this that I observed was when my preschooler asked her fellow classmate if she could use the “roller” on her play-doh to flatten it. She waits patiently for him to finish with it and then he hands it to her. My preschooler says, “thank you”, uses the roller, and then gives it back to her classmate so he can use it again. The two preschoolers were able to play with the play-doh and the limited number of play-doh tools they had without complications or problems.
Cultural influences that were evident in my preschooler’s play were her natural instinct of being a nurturer. Women are often perceived as caregivers or nurturers and my preschooler exhibited this role when she played with others in her classroom. Whenever one of her classmates was upset, she would find ways to comfort them by sharing her toys or giving them hugs. Although the concept of women being the caregiver or nurturer of the home and men being the worker of the home is changing in today’s society, children often still exhibit these “natural instinct” behaviors in their play. Thus, leading in to gender stereotyping in young play.
Gender stereotyping is often evident in the play of young children. An example of gender stereotyping that I observed was when my preschooler wanted to be the daddy in a game of house and her fellow boy classmate said, “you can’t be the daddy, you’re a girl”. This is an example of gender stereotyping because the idea that women can only be a mother figure in the house hold is a stereotype that is still currently an issue in today’s society. The young preschool male most likely picked up his own views of this stereotype at home or through his everyday observations in his own life. It is hard for young children and even some adults, to look past those natural instincts of women should be the caregivers and men should be the workers to understand that even in pretend play children can play any role regardless of their sex.
Interdependence/Interrelatedness of the Domains
Altogether, the four domains, physical, cognitive, language, and social-emotional, all play a vital role in helping a child develop and advance to the next stages of their lives properly. The physical domain is responsible for the growth of the body, with a special focus on bones, muscles, teeth, height, and other main body features. These features are essential for helping a child’s physical appearance reflect their age. The preschooler I observed was at an average height for her age, but she was at an above average level in her athletic abilities. The cognitive domain focuses on the brain and the overall development of it. It places a special focus on the views and theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. These theorist help explain two forms of play which are make believe/pretend play and sociodramtic play. Through my observations, I was able to observe make-believe play when my preschooler pretended, she was a pilot flying an airplane to Florida.
Through the language domain, we are able to see the speech improvements of a child. This domain was most evident in the child I observed when she had a conversation with her teacher about her turkey hand painting. Throughout my observations, I was able to observe my preschooler interact with her peers as well as her teachers and each conversation used various types of language depending on the preschooler’s situation. The social-emotional domain allows us to see how through their interactions, children evolve to the world around them. I was able to observe the social-emotional domain of my preschooler through her play. The type of play I observed was social play. During my preschooler’s social play, she shared toys or objects with her classmates and she was able to see a problem and solve if with out assistance from her teachers. This displays that she has a strong understanding of problem solving, taking turns, and a strong understanding of how to be flexible during play.
- Berk, L. E., & Meyers, A. B. (2016). Infants, children, and adolescents. Boston: Pearson.