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Melissa Doerr EDPS 250 Child Study Paper

1. Laura is a five-year-old preschooler who attends the UNL Childrens Center. She has short, dark blonde hair that frames her animated facial expressions. Laura is very tall for her age, and much more physically developed than the rest of her classmates, due to the fact she is a year older than the majority of her class. Her movements look a bit awkward due to her lanky limbs. She seems to be shy and not assertive or outgoing to say the least. 2. a. By observation, I would say that Laura lacks in social development. As stated previously, she is not outgoing and tends to keep to herself. Lauras emotions prove to tie right into her personality by being happy and calm (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 434). She controls her emotions quite well and doesnt seem to ever be upset unless she becomes concerned about something bad happening to someone or herself. For example, one of her classmates was repeatedly putting stamps upside-down in their container during an art project. Every time he would do so Laura made a point to let the boy know he was placing them in the wrong way and then would fix them accordingly. Even when she excludes herself from social situations, she doesnt seem to ever be upset just content with playing by herself in her own imagination. During every one of my observations I would notice during recess she would tend to get bored with the activity everyone else

was playing and just go off by herself and play alone within her own imagination. Usually she gravitated to the monkey bars and would climb, swing, and chat with herself until a new interesting game was being played or playtime ended. I would classify Lauras temperament as introverted, calm, and concerned (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 442). I do not believe emotions cause Laura stress just because she handles situations well and does not overreact even when she is bothered. b. The peer relationships Laura has with her classmates are brief and superficial. I can tell Laura feels awkward around her classmates and especially during social interaction. For example, Laura frequently takes herself out of social situations to go off and play on her own. She is also much taller and more physically developed than the rest of her classmates including the boys and seems to be clumsier compared to the others, usually having trouble carrying the water bottles out to recess when its her turn to do so. Classification wise, I would place Laura in the neglected group (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 579). I would choose this category because she is very quiet, keeps to herself, has a small group of girl friends but is by no means popular within her class. I dont believe her classmates mind her, but I wouldnt say she would be many of their first choices in projects, etc. I wouldnt say the fact Laura isnt popular adds stress to her life, because I think she values being alone more than being around her class. c. Like her peer relationships, Lauras relationships with her teachers are also weak and quite sparse. Unless directly spoken to, Laura doesnt give much input during class. During one observation, the class was having recess and Laura was playing in the sandbox. When the teacher asked generally, what are you all making?

Laura did not respond while four other classmates piped up the names of their creations. The teacher then asked Laura directly what she had made, and she replied with, nothing. Laura had clearly made a mud pie, but wanted to keep interaction to a minimum. Another example, during a painting exercise Laura got paint on her sleeve. She repeated her teachers name over 10 times with no response and eventually gave up. I think interacting with adults does cause stress for Laura because she seems to not know exactly how to interact with them so she ultimately avoids conversing with them. 3. a. Pertaining to Lauras cognitive development level, I feel she is very advanced in the classroom, as compared to her classmates. She can write her own name, do addition problems, and excels at spelling. For example, during a counting game Laura was able to see a number on a card and then place the right number of pumpkins on top a Velcro fence. Compared to her classmates, she was more advanced and yielded much better results by completing the activity 100% correct. She also is able to write her name without someone spelling it to her or having to trace it, which by observation I took note of only a couple of her classmates being able to also complete the task with no help or tracing. By classification according to Piaget, I would say Laura is in between the preoperational stage and concrete stage (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 201-203). One large reason I think Laura may be in the preoperational stage is because she shows signs of egocentrism. Being possessive of the art supplies she uses during projects, for example, during a painting project of space monsters, one of her

classmates tried to take the yellow paint she was using and she threw a small hissy fit over it. She also gets egocentric in her conversations, ignoring what the other person is saying and remains on her own topic. During recess, she and two other girls were playing in the sandbox and each building their own sand creations. Laura ignored the other two girls input on their castles and only spoke of her pie. However, I also believe she may be approaching the concrete stage for a few reasons. First, she understands others feelings and how their feelings can be hurt by certain events. While playing zoo during recess, a girl was forced to be a snake and crawl on the ground. Laura seemed upset when the girl started crying from not being aloud to be a cat, and stood up for her. They then both played as cats. She also is able to understand people have different beliefs and interests than she does. When going to recess Laura accidentally went in front of her classmate in line. He then proceeded to tell the teacher, and right away she apologized and let him go ahead of her. This level of maturity and the fact she knows he was upset shows her awareness of others. 4. a. Social interactions with teachers and her classmates really benefit Laura. One thing I have specifically noticed over time with Laura is she likes to get others opinions and have her work clarified. You can tell by the look on her face after being praised that the reinforcement helps her feel better about her work and projects. Another prominent feature of Laura comes from Vygotskys theory: self-talk. Laura uses self-talk during almost every activity, even if its something as simple as putting on her jacket. Self-talk is the process of talking oneself

through an act in order to assure completion (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 217). Talking herself through activities benefits the efficiency of her work and confidence by completing the assignment correctly. For example, during an art project that involved decorating paper pumpkins, she talked through each of the steps, beginning with cutting out the pumpkin, coloring in the face, and then applying glitter and gems. She is quite the perfectionist, so I think checking things off during a step-by-step project helps her to know she has completed the project in full. b. By observation, I would say Lauras cognitive development affects her social interactions in a couple different ways. Because I think she is more advanced than most of the rest of her classmates, I think it is easy for her to feel awkward in situations and it can clearly be seen by others and observers. For example, Laura shies away from large groups during recess and stations. Usually she will stick by a couple girls and not interact with any of the other kids. I also think because she understands a lot of the projects and concepts right away she is able to take her time and perfect her project. This causes her to be more introverted and not get much social interaction. As an example, this can be applied to the social information processing theory for clarification. Everyday at recess Laura carefully observes the playground while the other kids run outside, step one of the social information processing theory, encoding social cues. She then sees a group of girls playing house, and remembers how much fun she had playing house the day before. Step two, interpreting social cues. Lauras now-forming social goal is to go play with the girls, step three. Step four, generating possible problem-

solving strategies, Laura thinks of ways to join the group. She contemplates waving to the girls, calling the girls names, or just walking up and joining the group. Because Laura is so shy, she believes waving at the girls across the playground to get a response before she approaches is the best solution to joining the activity. Step five, evaluating probable effectiveness of strategies. In the last step, step six, Laura enacts a response by waving to the girls, who wave back, and she runs off to play house with them. 5. Pertaining to self-concept, who you believe you are as a person, I would say because Laura is so young she probably doesnt have a great grip on who she is as a person (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 474). Of course she knows she is a female, a preschooler, a daughter, friend, etc., but she may not know yet what she wants in life, her goals, and if she would consider herself a good person. At that young of age, Im sure she does not have a negative view of herself because she seems to always be content, laughing, and genuinely happy. Although, during observations I can definitely tell Laura feels awkward, socially. Her self-esteem, the way you feel about yourself, can be told by this example (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 458). At every observation I have conducted I have noticed she tends to follow a group of 2-3 girls and participate in whatever theyre doing. During art projects or choosing a play station, she always asks the other girls for their opinions before making her decision. I would say this shows Lauras self-esteem is unsure and lacking confidence in her own decision-making. Although, her self-efficacy, how well she feels she can complete a task, is quite high (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 499). She knows she is intelligent, and many of the activities the class participates in are not

terribly complicated for her. For example, during a counting game involving pumpkins, she exclaimed to her teacher, This is too easy! 6. Pertaining to her family life, I think she is an only child with pretty strict parenting beliefs. I would make the assumption she is an only child because she generally keeps to herself and has no problem taking herself out of social situations to go off and play on her own. I believe her parents may have strict parenting values because of the politeness Laura always shows. Please and thank you are commonly heard from Laura around the classroom, whether its directed towards her teachers or classmates. Even though I have not witnessed Laura and her parents interact, I would assume her polite social skills are a result of good parenting tactics. 7. Because the children at the UNL Childrens Center are culturally diverse, I think this gives Laura early exposure to diversity, which in growing America is important to be accustomed. According to the textbook, it is important for children to be culturally diverse because they model and teach different interpersonal behaviors between cultures (McDevitt & Ormrod pg. 577). Because Laura has an introverted personality, I believe interaction with classmates of different cultures can help her to gain confidence and give her more experience in which will help her to be more at ease and comfortable when meeting new people later on and creating friendships. 8. Concerning teachers, I do not think the teachers paid a significant amount of attention to Laura. She was very overlooked compared to her classmates. In the classroom, because Laura was more advanced, she was not given any sort of attention because their help was needed to assist the children who are not as advanced. Which, in a sense, makes perfect sense if they are in need of help from the teacher, but praise for completing tasks is also

important for self-confidence, especially for fragile Laura. Outside the classroom, she was very content with being by herself at most times, so she was ignored compared to the kids who needed a lot of attention. Referring to the painting example I gave early paragraph 2 c.Laura repeatedly asked her teacher for help getting paint off her sleeve and was ignored. I think a problem Laura faced was communicating effectively with her peers and building relationships. For example, Laura was able to begin recess playing with the other girls in her class, but after a while they would begin to exclude her and she would get frustrated and entertain herself. I think the teachers should have recognized this and done more to prevent the neglect from her classmates from happening. If I were Lauras teacher, in this situation, I would try to incorporate more partner or small group projects in order to remove stress to the kids who struggle to form relationships. Working in smaller groups gives a more intimate and comfortable setting to work in, in terms of forming friendships and relationships. 9. The teacher in the classroom in which I observed Laura used the socio-cultural theoretical orientation. As proposed by Vygotsky, this theory states that adults help children to learn in a systematic way (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 214). I believe in this preschool classroom the teachers had much to do with the childrens learning. Because the kids are so young and dont have the attention span of those as adults, studying books and taking exams arent the appropriate ways to teach children to learn. Instead, teachers scaffold the children by teaching them how to perform a task by providing support (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 223). Scaffolding is an important idea proposed by Vygotsky. For example, the teacher in Lauras classroom would always stand near-by art projects in order to supervise the children as they worked. When needed, she would step in to help

the children complete the project. She would also make the project alongside them to provide an example for the kids. Zone of Proximal Development is affected by scaffolding. The ZPD of children is defined by their ability to accomplish a goal only with assistance or support (McDevitt & Ormrod, pg. 219). Lauras teacher used the scaffolding method to help the preschoolers grow cognitively. Sometimes the teacher would assign group work among the preschoolers. Group work is just as affective, teaching the students to work together and help each other complete the task and grow cognitively. I think at the preschool age, using the socio-cultural theory is highly effective. Because they are so young, using social situations like teaching the children to work together and being able to provide support during projects will help to expand their cognition level in an effective way. 10. Due to the fact my major is not education, applying the information I have learned will be much different than education majors. For Speech Pathology, and more specifically Occupational Therapy what I will be studying in graduate schoolthe importance of working with children relies more on their emotional, cognitive, and physical state. Emotionally, I want children to feel at ease and relaxed when working with me. The chapter over emotions and temperament will help me to understand how to work with the children effectively. Knowing a childs temperament can help me provide a suitable environment to work in that makes them feel comfortable (pg. 442). Emotionally, knowing emotional behaviors of my patients, whether they may be shy or confident, I can adjust my aggression level of work that will be most beneficial and match their personality and emotional state. For example, when observing Laura, I dont think her teachers understood how fragile Laura is emotionally because she is so overlooked. They

put her behind some of her more demanding and extraverted classmates because they needed attention right away. Because she was neglected, I think it has impacted her social abilities. This is the biggest issue I noticed while observing Laura. She was neglected by her teachers and went unnoticed by her classmates, and I think it has really affected how she acts socially because she feels so left out and out of place. Cognitively, knowing how much a child can understand, follow directions, and how long they are able to stay focused will greatly improve therapy sessions. Since learning in class children are easily distracted and dont have an extended memory, this has helped me realize I will need to keep sessions entertaining and to the point. Not only Laura, but also observing the entire preschool class has given me many lessons on this fact, specifically, during reading circle. At the beginning of reading circle the children are focused, excited, and ready to listen. Throughout the story, I noticed children staring around the room, partaking in conversation with their neighbors, or playing with a rock they picked out of their shoe. Even though the teacher is excellent at having the kids participate in the group activities, due to the childrens lack of attention span it can sometimes be impossible to do so. In therapy, the physical state of the patient is what is most important, and what we are dealing with/striving to improve. When children are behind physically for their age, or compared to their peers, this can cause them to be left out socially or functionally in school. What majorly stuck out and the first thing I remember observing about Laura was the physical difference between her and the rest of the class. She is a year older than the rest of her classmates, and is definitely a year old physically. Laura is much taller than her classmates, even the boys. Laura is a shy, introverted child, who by obvious

observation feels out of place. Although this isnt her fault, it still puts her out of place with her class. Because obviously therapy cannot help Laura to under-develop, she will just need to be patient and wait for her classmates to reach her physical level, which will come in time. But, to the children who are under-developed, could possibly benefit from therapy. Because of this observation, I can now understand how being out of the norm can affect a child. This will benefit me when working with children if they are having psychological problems because of their physical state. Helping them to gain strength and control of their fine and gross motor skills, along with confidence, will be extremely beneficial when interacting with peers and forming friendships. This observation has really opened my eyes and given me a first-hand experience to watch kids interact with each other and their superior figures. Having the chance to observe them in a natural habitat, behaving how they would normally, is such a tool to have before going into a working field with them. Its one thing to learn about how they develop and to study their thinking process, but being able to see it is an experience unlike any other and gives you an insight to what you will be working with in your future career. The most important new knowledge I have acquired during this observation is, as stated previously, learning of their emotional, cognitive, and physical state. Specifically, how they emotionally respond to certain stimuli and learning the different types of temperament a child may obtain; how to assess their cognitive abilities such as how deeply they are processing information they are learning, the length of their attention span, and how much information they are able to retain. Knowing how these three play a part and affect each other is an important skill to have and can help you give a better assessment on the patient.