To ensure that a naturalistic insight is gained in terms of different behaviors characteristic for child development domains, I have conducted the observation in a day care facility. I was observing a 1.9-year-old Emma playing and interacting with other children in the room. It is known that toddlers have a more advanced understanding of the world than infants, and that cognitive domain is one of the most important domains of child development at this age. Therefore, in addition to presenting general notes taken during the observation, I will focus on describing and analyzing one behavior related to the cognitive domain: pretend play.
Like most children of this age, Emma seemed to become increasingly independent, interpreting her own experiences and learning through them. According to Jean Piaget’s theory, children up to 2 years old are at the sensorimotor stage of their development, and this was clearly seen with Emma (Byrnes). During an hour and fifteen minutes that I was observing her, she was active and eager to engage in various activities involving toys, objects, other children, etc. Whenever she took new objects in her hands, she started shaking them, examining them from different sides, and, if possible, trying to take them apart. Emma was also able to identify similar objects in her environment, books, and pictures. For example, there was a game that required children to take the same toys; having taken one for herself, Emma was eager to help her playmate and handed the same toy to him.
Another important observation was Emma’s ability to imitate the language, ideas, and concepts she encountered through wordless books, pictures, or interactions with adults. For example, during the game where children were asked to imitate sounds that some animals make, Emma could do it easily, making cat-like “meows” and cow-like “moos” when the teacher showed her different pictures. She was could also imitate teachers’ activities outside the games. For example, she once saw one of her teachers cleaning the shelf and started making the same circular hand movements, imitating dusting a book.
A particular behavior I would like to focus on is Emma’s tendency to use her thinking skills for pretend play. She enjoyed playing with her doll, pretending that it was a child and taking care of it. She used various toy sets present in the facility to play with a doll, imitating different activities. For example, she tried to feed the toy with a spoon she took from a food kitchen toy set. She also took one of the cars and put the doll in it. Although the doll was bigger than a car, Emma managed to move it from one end of the room to another, pretending that the doll was driving. After that, she took a toy comb from the beauty salon play set and started combing the doll’s hair. She also took her own hair pin and put it on the doll’s hair.
It can be concluded that Emma has demonstrated a number of behaviors characteristic for the cognitive domain of child development. These behaviors include imitating people, sounds, and images around her, as well as using her senses and motor skills to examine different objects. Finally, she used pretend play, one of the behaviors that are most important for children’s cognitive development, because it helps them form memories, make plans, and learn to perform both independent and group activities successfully.
Byrnes, James P. “Piaget’s Cognitive-Developmental Theory.” Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development, 2020, pp. 532-539.