Essay on Development of Children: Analysis of The Early Years Foundation Phase

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The early years foundation phase is the basis of the development of children and young people’s individual learning needs. At the centre of the overall framework is the holistic development of the children and their individual skills. The Foundation Phase curriculum promotes equality of opportunity and values, and celebrates diversity. Positive partnerships are involved and the support of parents and carers being the children’s first educators is recognised effectively. The foundation phase framework teaches that children and young people learn best through their first hand experiences with ‘play’ being the main starting point for their early development of main skills that they need. In the setting that I work in we encourage and promote children and young people to use their imagination through play. An example of this is giving them blocks to use their imagination to create something unique. Once this is done we ask children to explain to us what they have made. This is important because this shows that as a setting we use the ability of learning best through play effectively.

Through their play, children practice and consolidate their learning, play with ideas, experiment, take risks, solve problems, and make decisions individually, in small and in large groups. First-hand experiences allow children to develop an understanding of themselves and the world in which they live. The development of children’s self-image and feelings of self-worth and self-esteem are at the core. This is important because this means that this shows children and young people that they understand and can promote their own development from believing in themselves in whatever they want to achieve.

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The Early Years Foundation Phase framework is rolled out across Wales to support and monitor the overall progress of children from 3 – 7 year olds. The areas of development are;

  • Creative development
  • Language, literacy and communication
  • Mathematical
  • Welsh
  • Physical
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the world

Different childcare settings use different frameworks that work best for them as a setting overall. There are different frameworks that can be used in order for a setting to promote and work effectively throughout their practice. KEEP is one of the frameworks that is set out for settings to use. KEEP stands for ‘key elements of effective practice’. KEEP sets out guidelines for effective practice throughout a childcare setting. It teaches that effective practice in the early years requires committed, enthusiastic and reflective practitioners with a breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and understanding. This is important because this means that this can enable practitioners to then be able to make sure that they work to the best possible standard that they can for the sake of carrying out effective practice in the setting.

KEEP teaches that all practitioners need to demonstrate and continuously improve their individual relationships with both the children and young people and the adults in the setting. This is important as this enables strong relationships to continuously be had in the setting. This is one of the main aims that must be met in order for effective practice between all individuals in a setting. According to the research I have carried out on the framework KEEP they outline that practitioners continuously improve their skills and understanding of an individual child or young person and the different diverse ways that children learn and develop. As a practitioner I know that it is vital to have a good understanding of the different ways in which each individual child or young person learns and develops best. This is important because this helps me to make sure that any planning of activities meets each individual child or young person’s learning and developmental needs. KEEP outline that it is important for practitioners to continuously improve their knowledge and understanding in order for them to actively support and extend children and young people’s learning throughout all areas of development.

There are many different child development theories that are used in childcare settings today. Child development theories focus on explaining how children change and grow over the course of childhood. Theories focus on various aspects of development including social, emotional, and cognitive growth. In order to understand human development, a number of different theories of child development have arisen and are used on a regular basis to explain various aspects of human growth. Some of the major theories of child development are known as grand theories; they attempt to describe every aspect of development, often using a stage approach. Others are known as mini-theories; they instead focus only on a fairly limited aspect of development such as cognitive or social growth.

The Psychoanalytic theory originated with the work of Sigmund Freud, although his work is now widely discredited, many other theories developed from his work. Freud believed that childhood experiences and unconscious desires influenced people’s individual behaviour.

One of Freud’s best-known theories, the psychosexual theory, suggested that child development occurs in a series of stages focused on different pleasure areas of the body. During these stages, if the child encounters conflicts this can have a negative impact on the course of development. This is important and should be taken into account because children having conflict with others will have their development affected. This means that it is important for any conflicts to be minimised and children and young people to be able to learn and develop in a happy environment without being exposed to negativity and conflict.

Eric Erikson’s theory of development describes growth and change throughout life, he also discusses how conflict and social interaction affect children’s development. This shows that this specific part of Erikson’s theory is similar to the theory by Freud. While Erikson’s theory showed some similarities with Freud’s, it is also different in many ways. For example Erikson believed that social interaction and experience played decisive roles. This is important because this shows that children and young people should always be provided with the chance to socially interact with others. He suggests it is beneficial to recognise the different ways that children learn and how their individual needs can be met throughout their early years and later life.

Erik Erikson’s theory focuses on development across the entire lifespan. At each stage, he says, children and adults face a developmental crisis that serves as a major turning point. Successfully managing the challenges of each stage leads to a child or young person being able to develop effectively and reach their own full potential.

Behavioural theories are based on the theories of theorists such as John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, and B. F. Skinner. These theories deal only with observable behaviours. Development is considered by these theorists to be directly influenced by rewards, punishments, stimuli, and reinforcement. This is why when working in a childcare setting it is important to make sure we teach children the difference between wrong and right. This can be done by providing them with rewards when they have behaved in an appropriate manner. This is important as this would potentially encourage them to want to behave appropriately due to rewards being provided. However it is important for children and young people to understand that that if their behaviour is not good then they will not be rewarded. This is important so that they understand the difference between the two and identify that rewards aren’t provided all the time.

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development also discusses development stages. His cognitive development theory discusses the development of a person’s thought processes. It also looks at how these thought processes influence how we understand and interact with the world. The theory teaches that ‘Children think differently than adults’. He was one of the first theorists to recognise this.

Jean Piaget proposed one of the most influential theories of cognitive development. His cognitive theory describes and explains the development of thought processes and emotions. It looks at how these thought processes effect the way we understand and interact with the world. By using this theory in a childcare setting, it helps to support practitioners with their overall ability to support children and young people throughout different areas of their learning and development.

Piaget then proposed a theory of cognitive development to account for the steps and sequence of children’s intellectual development. This includes a four different step procedure. Starting with the sensorimotor stage; this is the period of time between birth and age two when the infant’s knowledge of the world is limited to their own sensory perceptions and motor activities. Piaget suggested that behaviours are limited to simple motor responses caused by sensory stimuli. The second step he called ‘The preoperational stage’. This is a period between ages 2 and 6 during which a child learns to use language. He suggest that during this stage, children do not yet understand ‘concrete logic’, cannot mentally manipulate information and are unable to see the point of view of other people. The third stage is called ‘The concrete operational stage’ this is a period between ages 7 and 11 during which Piaget says that children gain a better understanding of mental operations. Children begin thinking logically about concrete events but have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts. The fourth stage is called ‘The formal operational stage’. This is a period between age 12 to adulthood when children develop the ability to think about abstract concepts. Skills such as logical thought, deductive reasoning, and systematic planning develop during this stage. All of these different stages focus on how a child or young person’s mind works and different ways in which they can develop the concept of learning and developing.

John Bowlby believed that strong early relationships with caregivers plays a major role in child development and continues to influence social relationships throughout a person’s life. Bowlby’s attachment theory suggested that children are born with an instinct to form attachments. These attachments, he says, are to ensure that the child receives care and protection from the adults in their lives. Bowlby goes on to say that, these attachments are evident in the way children behave and what motivates them. Children behave in a way that is designed to help them to stay close and connected to their caregivers, and they in turn should provide a safe and a secure base for exploration. Within my own childcare setting I am able to notice that different children are more confident with certain members of staff. The children have a member of staff that they are drawn closer to than others. This is important as this enables a child to feel confident that they can be comforted and supported by that individual member of staff, who has their best interests at heart.

Social learning theory is based on the work of psychologist Albert Bandura. Bandura believes that the theories of Piaget and Bowlby do not fully explain all of human learning. According to his social learning theory, behaviour can also be learned through observation and modelling. He states that by observing the actions of others, including parents and peers; children develop new skills and acquire new information. As a childcare practitioner I am able to notice that this happens within the setting. This is because children and young people follow and copy what other children do, even though sometimes it might not be right! Bandura’s theory suggests that observation plays a critical role in learning, but this observation does not necessarily need to take the form of watching a live model. Instead, children can also learn by listening to verbal instructions about how to perform actions, as well as through the actions of characters in books or films. Observational learning Bandura says is vital in relation to children being able to meet their individual needs and to fulfil their own full potential.

Lev Vygotsky’s theory of language development focused on social learning and what he described as ‘the zone of proximal development’ (ZPD). The ZPD is a level of development obtained when children engage in social interactions with others. This is the distance between a child’s potential to learn and the actual learning that takes place. In a childcare settings it is important for children and young people to have social interactions with others and to be able to do this on a regular basis. This is important because this enables children and young people to boost their individual development and further the individual needs that they meet.


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