Cognitive, Language, and Literacy Development of the Infant
After studying the chapter on the cognitive, language, and literacy development of infants it has come to my attention that environmental factors play a crucial role in helping to develop the cognitive skills of infants which help to facilitate proper development in terms of language acquisition, literacy as well as problem solving skills. Evidence of this can actually be seen in the study of Diamond and Hopson (1998) in which researchers utilized rats in both immersive and un-immersive environments in order to test their degree of cerebral development. It was proven by this study that immersive environments resulted in far greater cerebral development as compared to un-immersive environments and as such is an important factor for parents and caregivers to take into consideration during a child’s early stages of development.
What must be understood is that while theorists in this chapter have advocated the fact that babies have their own internal processes for self development which lead to learning how to associate certain sounds into developing a cognizant approximation of rudimentary language skills the fact remains that it is the amount of external environmental stimuli that a child receives that results in the development of such a skill.
For example, while theorists such as Chomsky (1968, 1980, 1993) advocate that infants have an inborn capacity for learning languages called the language acquisition device (LAD) with Pinker (1994) believing that its acquisition is an instinctual process. Such theorists though neglect to mention what would happen in instances where a child is devoid of all possible means and methods of being exposed to even the slightest processes of communication.
It can actually be assumed that in such a situation where a child is devoid of all external environmental stimuli associated with communication skills then it is likely that the processes of developing even the most rudimentary means of communication will not occur at all. It is based on this that parental and caregiver practices must ensure that an interactive and immersion rich environment is present during the early years of a child’s development so as to ensure greater levels of initial cognitive development.
In fact based on this chapter I have learned that in order to facilitate a greater degree of language and literacy development within children it is important to create a daily form of language interaction with object association so that babies can help to associate particular objects with distinct sounds. While it maybe true that developmental theorists within the chapter state that babies have the instinctual aptitude to develop an understanding of languages, the fact remains that the experiment of Diamond and Hopson (1998) has left a distinct impression on me in that by creating an immersive environment that facilitates learning there is the potential for hastening/improving the process of language development in young children.
Physical and Motor Development: Ages One Through Three
One of the more interesting topics presented by chapter 8 is the integration of perceptual and motor abilities wherein a child uses visual, auditory, tactile, or other sensory data to plan and carry out motor activities more efficiently. This is a rather interesting topic especially when taking into account the fact that this chapter also discusses the various developmental problems that occur for children with special needs. For me, what I understood from this chapter is that problems in perceptual abilities such as seeing and hearing have a direct impact on both a child’s motor skills and how they develop cognitively, socially and emotionally.
A child suffering from either eye sight or hearing problems without the appropriate means of intervention done early on runs the risk of potentially debilitating or delayed developmental progress. For example, in the case of children with hearing problems not only does this delay their ability to learn verbal means of communication but if remained undiagnosed can adversely impact their rate of development till early childhood. It must also be noted that visual acuity plays a distinct role in developing proper motor skills.
It has been established within the chapter that young children have the tendency to learn via emulation with visual information often being the primary method by which babies learn how to mimic specific motor actions into their own repertoire of skills. Based on this it is to my understanding the children with eyesight problems often have delayed motor skills development due to inadequate emulation due to problems interpreting specific actions due to them being unable to see the action clearly.
Another interesting lesson I learned from this chapter is the fact that diets often play an important factor in both the physical and mental development of children. The reason I mention is this is because as of late I have read various online articles with mothers placing babies on low fat and low sugar diets in what they believe is a preventive measure in ensuring that their children don’t develop the tendency to be obese.
Based on chapter 8 I now know that such actions are not only detrimental for a child’s physical development but their mental development as well. Babies need high amounts of glucose in order for their brains to properly develop as well as fat in order to help stimulate proper growth and development. When such nutrients are denied or limited as seen in the case of malnourished babies in Africa this results in underdeveloped bodies and a distinct decrease in mental acuity and cognitive skills due to a lack of ingested glucose. All in all this chapter helped to broaden my understanding of what does into a child’s physical development and the various factors that occur that influence it.
Social and Emotional Development: Ages One Through Three
In chapter 9 it is shown that the age of 1 to 3 is an important time period for a child’s social and emotional growth since it is at this period that certain behaviors that carry on as they mature start to develop. For example, behavioral predilections related to trust and to establishing proper developmental behaviors where certain limitations are placed on a child’s actions (i.e. not allowing them to hit each other).
Based on the chapter I noticed that from 6 months onwards a child starts to develop a certain desire to explore yet still feels the need to have their mother or caregiver around. This form of attachment is important to take note of since at this particular stage a child develops the tendency to want to explore yet only does so if their mother or caregiver is visually or auditorilly present. It must further be understood that infants at this particular stage also develop a certain degree of anxiety when their mother or primary care giver is not around or has suddenly disappeared.
As mentioned before, while the toddler has developed a certain degree of security in being able to explore this is only done so if the factors related to attachment (i.e. visual and auditory) are present. While children at this particular stage become more self-assured in their ability to explore the fact remains that this particular feeling of security quickly disappears if their mother or caregiver is not around which in effect limits their willingness to explore.
It must also be noted that at this particular stage the toddler begins to develop certain self-comforting behaviors (i.e. thumb sucking or holding on to a pillow) which I believe actually increases the greater the level of anxiety experienced. For example, an absentee mother who just leaves her baby in a play pen may result in the child developing extensive self-comforting behaviors as a way of dealing with the lack of a presence of the person that they’re attached to.
In chapter 10 it is noted that children start to develop a certain vocabulary of around 50 words by the time they are 15 to 18 months old. For me, this is a rather interesting time of development since a lot of parents are confused with how language and social skills develop and it is often necessary to “correct” their preconceived notions over normal developmental processes. For example, parents often go to great strides in correcting child behavior yet what they fail to take into account is the fact that children often emulate actions based on observed behavior.
Social learning theory specifically states that cognitive, language, and literacy behaviors that toddlers exhibit are often profoundly influenced by the individuals they choose to imitate yet what must be understood is that this form of imitation is not limited to other children they see but to adults as well. As a child continues to grow and age certain social behaviors and actions that they have inculcated from their “role model” begin to manifest themselves aside from cognitive and language development.
This can be seen in whether children develop a certain degree of aggressive tendencies based on behavior they have seen which they are merely emulating. In a sense, this particular period of time is an important stage where certain methods of behavior become established which have a profound influence on behavioral development in years to come.