The early childhood stage is a development stage where children start learning. The stage is important because it determines the effectiveness in cognitive, social, and emotional development in a child. Theorists have developed models to guide parents and guardians on how to create the best learning environments during the early childhood development stage.
Early childhood development
According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, early childhood development falls under the first and second stages of the four cognitive development stages. The first stage is the sensorimotor stage, and it goes through to the pre-operational stage. This development stage begins after a child’s birth. Children in the sensorimotor stage learn through their sensory organs. Most of the learning activities in this stage involve experimenting with objects in the environment, and the children learn through translating ideas from their senses. The pre-operational stage marks the development of language and faster cognitive development. Piaget’s theory enables parents to understand their children’s learning requirements, but it fails to highlight how parents can identify with the transition period from one learning stage to the other. Vygotsky’s theory of early childhood, on the other hand, reveals that children experience slow learning in the early stages of learning because they lack mental tools (Levykh, 2008). His theory provides parents with guidelines on how to influence faster learning in children through repetition of lessons. One of the limitations of this theory is that it assumes children have no mental capacities to learn in the early childhood stage (Overton, 2013).
During the early childhood stage, sex roles and gender orientations of the children are visible through their behaviors. While the male children are more likely to play with male-related toys like cars and engage in sporting activities like kicking a ball, their female counterparts play with dolls and would rather stay indoors with their dolls. Children’s behavior at this stage of development also reveals their sexual development. Boys become aggressive in their behaviors while the girls become shy. According to Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories on early childhood development, the main issue at this stage is the nature of the learning environment for a child. Both theorists suggest that the learning ability of a child is dependent on the type of environment in which the child lives (Isenberg & Jalango, 2003).
During the early childhood stage, cognitive development in children entails learning through their senses. Children at this stage are particularly impervious of the dangers in their environment; hence, they require constant care and instructions from their parents and guardians (Berger, 2013). As children get used to the environment and the people around them, they start developing social circles, but they still remain very close to their parents and guardians. Boys become aggressive in their behavior whereas the girls develop shyness, especially in their social behavior. Children at this stage also develop play groups. As children gain experience with different objects, they also develop in their morals. For instance, they start identifying bad behavior (Demetriou, Efklides & Shayer, 2005).
Parenting nature at this stage is one of the cultural influences that affect child development at this stage. Cultural expectations influence fathers to become more involved in the development of their sons, whereas mothers primarily focus on the development of their daughters. Fathers with sons in the early childhood stage take them out for sporting activities, whereas the mothers stay indoors with their daughters playing with dolls and role-playing (Demetriou, Efklides & Shayer, 2005).
Parental influence is particularly vital in the cognitive development of the children. It also influences gender specialization in children as they learn how to socialize through their parents. Transitioning from one stage of development to the other may not be effective because of the lack of parallelism in emotional, cognitive, and social development in children (Demetriou, Efklides & Shayer, 2005).
The early childhood development stage is influenced by parents and guardians. In most social settings, children in the early development stage remain under constant care of their parents. Parents and other caregivers have the ability to influence fast development in children in the early childhood stage. The fast development actualizes through the delivery of learning instructions to the children. Early schooling helps children to attain the required cognitive and social development while parental care offers emotional development (Demetriou, Efklides & Shayer, 2005).
Compared to a decade ago, the current state of technology has impacted the early childhood development stage in a positive way with reference to children’s capabilities of learning. While technology has enhanced the effectiveness of early education for children, it has also negatively affected their social development. Cognitive development among children is easy in the current world because there are many technological devices that help in increasing children’s learning abilities. Their social development is negatively affected in cases where the use of technological devices is exaggerated, leaving the children with limited time to socialize (Hollingsworth, Mansaray, Allen & Rose, 2011).
The possible future changes in early childhood development may include the use of technological devices as the main learning avenues for children. Children in the future may not have to attend classes at school because the teachers will have the ability to deliver their lessons through technological devices (Couse & Chen, 2010).
Parents and caregivers should have the knowledge on the requirements of their children at the early childhood development stage. Children should be provided with the best learning environments to influence positive growth in their cognitive, social, and emotional developments.
Berger, K. S. (2013). Invitation to the life span. New York: Worth Publishers.
Couse. L., & Chen. (2010). A Tablet Computer for Young Children? Exploring Its Viability for Early Childhood Education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(1), 75-98.
Demetriou, A., Efklides, A., & Shayer, M. (Eds.). (2005). Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development: Implications and applications for education. London: Routledge.
Hollingsworth, S., Mansaray, A., Allen, K., & Rose, A. (2011). Parents’ perspectives on technology and childrens learning in the home: social class and the role of the habitus. Journal of computer assisted learning, 27(1), 347-360.
Isenberg, J. P. & Jalango, M. R. (2003). Major Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education: Challenges, Controversies, and Insights. New York: Teachers College Press.
Levykh, M. G. (2008). The affective establishment and maintenance of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. Educational Theory, 58(1), 83-101.
Overton, W. F. (Ed.). (2013). The relationship between social and cognitive development. New York: Psychology Press.