Infancy refers to the period when a human being is aged between 1 and 12 months. Infancy is marked by rapid physical growth, which aids an infant’s new abilities. An infant is able to roll over, sit unaided at 6 months, and crawls or walks at age 12 months. At the end of this stage, infants would have developed motor skills and skills to pick up objects (Berger, 2011; Trawick, 2013). Also, infants would be able to say simple words like “papa”.
Infants then move into the toddler stage, which is between 1 and 3 years of age. Toddlers walk, feed and run independently. This stage is also characterized by a fast rate of developing language and communication skills. However, toddlers have little self-control, and this is often manifested as they play with their peers.
The last stage of early childhood is the preschool stage, which is between 3 and 5 years of age (Trawick, 2013). At this stage, children use their cognitive and motor skills to form and/or draw patterns and write some letters. In terms of emotions, a preschooler builds a lot of self-regulation abilities, and he or she can freely express himself or herself verbally without the need to utilize gestures. Socially, children at this stage meet and make new friends at school (Trawick, 2013).
Role of families in early childhood development
Families play crucial roles in the development of infants and young children because they provide the first environments in which infants and young children start to develop important growth characteristics (Trawick, 2013). Families provide attachment to children in the early stages of development. The form of attachment that is established between an infant and parents depends on the quality of interaction between parents and infants during the first year of life.
Attachments greatly influence the developmental path adopted by children. For example, children who enjoy secure attachments with their parents and/or caregivers during infancy tend to be more competent, compliant and empathetic than those who have insecure attachments. Thus, children who have experienced secure attachments have better chances of growing well during early childhood because they have the required social, emotional and physical skills (Trawick, 2013).
Families impact the process of developing language by infants and young children. Infants and toddlers have been shown to spend most of their time with parents, siblings and other members of the extended family. They learn languages from family members by imitating what they say (Trawick, 2013).
Families are crucial in shaping the moral development of infants and young children. Children mimic what they see their family members do. For example, if they see their family members helping a beggar on the street with some money, then they would also mimic their actions by trying to give the beggar something. Thus, moral development is determined by the actions of persons staying with infants and young children (Trawick, 2013).
Gender development of children is shaped by their families. Through gender development, children are able to associate more with one gender. Basically, young girls identify being female while young boys recognize being male (Trawick, 2013). As part of gender development, young children learn from family members what is expected of one’s gender. For example, young girls could learn from their mothers that females should wear dresses while young boys could learn from their fathers that males play soccer.
There are four main parenting styles. The first style is authoritative where parents demand that their children follow specified ways of behavior (Berger, 2011). These parents make regular follow ups on their children’s academic and social lives (Trawick, 2013). In addition, they are very strict and demand answers if children do something without permission.
The second style is authoritative parenting. Parents regulate their activities and behavior, but do not give them the freedom to request for anything. This is a form of dictatorship in families. It makes children fear their parents while others hate them (Berger, 2011). It is not a good parenting style because it violates the freedoms and rights of children to express their views and associate freely.
Indulgent parenting involves responding to children’s requests without making demands. It is necessary to explain that children brought up in this style usually respect their parents and have healthy discussions regarding various issues. Parents are kept busy with their daily schedules and expect their children to know what is good or bad for them. Therefore, they have minimal control over their lives, and that is why most children engage in drug and substance abuse (Berger 2011).
Neglectful parenting involves leaving children to do what they think is right. Parents do not bother to check what their children do, and most of them do not even know where their children go after school (Berger 2011). They withdraw from any activity that will bring them closer to their children. They develop social disorders and withdraw from public activities like sports. Moreover, they feel detached from their parents and start taking drugs and other harmful substances at an early stage in life (Trawick 2013).
Authoritative parenting is the best style because parents and children play their roles in ensuring their lives are complete. In addition, they understand each other well, and conflicts do not arise in their relationships.
Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education focuses on imparting children aged up to about 8 years with knowledge. Children undergo early childhood education before they attain the age of compulsory education. Infant education concentrates on the education acquired by children before they could join the school. Through early childhood education, children learn through play-based activities. These activities are based on the premises that children’s curiosity is motivated by plays and they make them believe that they can do what their peers are doing (Trawick, 2013).
Cognitive development is greatly influenced by early childhood education (Berger, 2011). Cognitive development forms the basis upon which children think logically, interact, process, store and use information. Early childhood education supports cognitive development by ensuring that children interact with family members and teachers on a daily basis.
Also, this type of education forms a basis of cognitive development by providing toys and other play materials that stimulate the senses of children important for reasoning logically. In addition, children are helped to improve their cognitive development by being taught the concept of cause and effect (Trawick, 2013).
The Head Start program is used in the US to provide holistic early childhood education (Trawick, 2013). It program emphasizes the incorporation of nutrition, health and parent participation during early learning of children. It aims at fostering stable family relationships, which result in improved children’s well-being. In addition, the program improves cognitive skills in young children.
Berger, K. S. (2011). The Developing Person through the Life Span. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Trawick, J. S. (2013). Early Childhood Development: A Multicultural Perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.