Statement of Research/Observation: To observe a five-year-old female child in her natural setting to determine age appropriate developmental stages.
Description of Child Being Observed: The subject is a five-year-old female: Maribel.
My friend has a five-year-old niece. The subject's mother was contacted and agreed to allow the observations to take place in her home and on the playground. The project was discussed and plans were made to accommodate all involved parties.
The introductory visit was conducted at my friend's house, also the child's grandmother's home. Maribel often visits her grandmother and is very comfortable within this home setting.
Upon this visit, Maribel was introduced to me as her aunt's visitor. She said, "hi" to me, and asked me if I was visiting her aunt. I replied yes, and asked Maribel if she would like to sit with me and wait for her aunt. She said yes, so we sat together on the living room couch and talked about some favorite things. By age 5, children have usually been taught basic standards of social behavior by their fifth year. Maribel's social skills were demonstrated as being polite and friendly.
Maribel has entered the Intuitive Phase that occurs during approximate ages of 4-7 years old. Her speech has become more social and less self-centered.
Maribel's speech appears to be well developed and her pronunciation of words is very clear and most sounds are correctly sounded. Maribel's interaction was very positive as we discussed her likes and dislikes. She appears to be very opinionated about favorite books and music. This was evident because she insisted on showing me the books and also singing songs to me.
After our brief interview, Maribel was then invited by her grandmother to watch her favorite afternoon show, Sesame Street. Maribel sat down at a small table and then requested a snack of cookies and milk. Maribel's grandmother only gave her three cookies and half a glass of milk. Maribel thanked her grandmother and proceeded to eat her cookies while dipping them in the milk. Maribel sang along with the program, and once had to run to use the bathroom. After returning, Maribel got up from her chair and walked over to a bookshelf filled with coloring books. She located one that she liked, and then she picked up her box of crayons. She returned to her table and proceeded to color while watching TV.
Over the years, much research attention has focused children's television programming. Studies have examined issues of both positive and negative learning outcomes from viewing television programs. Sesame Street is known as one of the most acclaimed children's program on American public television. Its programming has been teaching children for over thirty years. I recently viewed an episode of Sesame Street. The music and characters were delightful for children and also focused on teaching educational concepts of counting, letter recognition, and show children should behave properly. The characters focused on feelings, caring about other people, and sharing. Fisch and Truglio (2001) state how the producers' commitment to a comprehensive plan of research is utilized to create and extend a creative process that has been a hallmark of the program since its beginnings in the late 1960's. The design and implementation of this program are unmatched in the history of educational television. Sesame Street has created programming for children that not only is educational but enjoyable for several ages of children. The development and implementation of curriculum includes an initial concern for letter and number literacy but also incorporates ideas of multiculturalism and broader aspects of social development.
Even as the kids' television environment improves, there are still many shortcomings. Producer Mitchell Kriegman, creator of "Bear in the Big Blue House," says parents could grow too enamored of obviously educational, A-B-C and 1-2-3-type shows. One of the most successful episodes of "Bear" involves potty training. "The network's reaction was 'Oh, my God, you can't say poop and pee on TV'," Kriegman says. "Bear" did, and families loved it. Tighter curricula could dampen that creativity (McGinn, 2002).
In 1990, the Children's Television Act became federal law. This law requires that broadcasters should show programming that meets the informational and educational needs of children. Despite a massive amount of evidence that educational programming has positive effects on the social, intellectual, and educational development of young children, and recent evidence that such viewing experience during the preschool years fosters both increased school readiness for kindergarten and superior high school grades in English, science, and math, there is still a large number of teachers and parents who believe that television viewing in general is harmful to children. Many of the goals of educational programming are to include curriculum that addresses the social and emotional development of children. The programming is to teach such socially acceptable behavior such as cooperation, sharing, helping, and nonviolent conflict resolution. It is to also enhance children's self-esteem and their understanding of others' feelings and behavior while reducing unrealistic fears.
Observation Visit 2:
My next observation of Maribel was very brief. I dropped by to visit my friend, and Maribel was visiting. She was engaged with playing "daycare," and had several baby dolls lined up on the floor as if they were taking naps. Maribel regularly attends a daycare after she leaves school. Maribel was making sure that each doll had a blanket and bottle. After placing each child on a mat, she proceeded to sing to it while also patting its back. Maribel enjoyed playing quietly, but eventually sought out her aunt and me for company.
My friend asked Maribel what she had done that day in school. Maribel was anxious to talk about her school activities. She talked about working with toys that helped her to learn math and then she went to get her school papers. Her work proved to be very good for a Kindergarten student. Her papers included subjects such as math and reading. Research explains that every schoolchild is expected to learn to solve problems, a skill that improves with practice. A 5-year-old may try to solve a problem by choosing the first solution that comes to mind. Finally, children gain confidence in their mental powers and start to enjoy solving problems correctly (Kagan, 2004). Maribel was very proud of her schoolwork and enjoyed reading vocabulary words to us.
Observation Visit 3:
The park provided a pleasant and enriching environment to observe Maribel playing with a group of children all about her age. They were playing on various types of playground equipment. The observation occurred during the morning. There was a group of six boys and 8 girls. The park's equipment consisted of swings, and a large construction designed much like maze or jungle gym. The playground also had several sandboxes with sand pails and shovels.
Sitting areas such as benches were placed strategically throughout the park so that I could observe and not interfere with Maribel's play area. Many parents were sitting and watching their children while also enjoying the morning paper with coffee. There were also adults playing with their children or actively participating with their child in some other way.
The older children were swinging and sliding on the larger equipment while the younger ones had to opportunity to play on similar equipment that was smaller in scale.
A noticed that a group of boys was more rambunctious by running harder and jumping on and off of areas. They also were louder and seemed content to play alone. Several of the girls in Maribel's group were content to swing or slide as she was. Maribel was usually playing with one or two other girls or within a small group. The boys enjoyed playing in the sandboxes, and one group had constructed a town with roads. They had small cars and had also brought along "Tonka" trucks to complete their work.
Research shows that through play, children learn about themselves and the world around them. Play helps children develop confidence, self-esteem and creativity. Every child deserves the chance to play, and good play opportunities are everyone's responsibility. In the article, "Pretend Play and Young Children's Development," Bergen (2001) states that "Children begin to engage in pretend play, develop receptive and expressive language, and use mental representation at approximately the same time in their development." Pretend play requires the ability to transform objects and actions symbolically when it is carried out through interactive social dialogue and negotiation. It also involves role taking, script knowledge, and improvisation. All of these skills are developed at an early age through "play."
Bergen's article identifies many cognitive strategies are evident when children participate in playtime. Skills such as joint planning, negotiation, problem solving, and goal seeking are just a few areas of cognitive development that are experienced within the realm of play. I also observed role-playing as one of the skills in which Maribel was participating.
The design of the play area is important to meet the needs of the child's growth…