Other People Present in the Observation Setting: 1 teacher, 1 assistants, 15 other children
Development: Appears mostly normal; has some problems with fine motor skills and challenging cognitive skills.
Permission: Permission was granted by the Director of the Child Care Center, the child's teacher and his parents
John was observed unobtrusively from some distance. The observer sat at a desk in the classroom while the teacher and assistant worked with children. The observer did not interact with the child and in fact remained out of the way of the children and teachers for the duration of the observation. The observation included classroom activities such as children writing their names, coloring, and building puzzles. The children then had snacks after which they were allowed to play outside.
John's social development proves to be at an excellent level. He interacts with his classmates in a friendly and jovial way. He seems to have many friends and even hugged one or two of them at least once. When they listen to stories, John sits cross legged and appears to be engrossed in the tale. He does not speak while the teacher is speaking and seems very disciplined during class time. His focus on the tasks to be accomplished is also good. He seems to enjoy particularly working within groups of children, where each child has a different task to complete. When the teacher asks questions, John eagerly puts up his hand and waits to be called on for his response. He always smiles at the teacher when she compliments him on his efforts.
During snack time, John sits at a table with his friends and interacts with them, talking and laughing. For their playtime outside, John elects a number of classmates, with whom he climbs and swings on the equipment provided by the school. When they are called back in, he shares a book with a girl and reads to her, or at least pretends to do so, while using gestures and pointing to the pictures like the teacher did during story time.
John is a well-adjusted child in terms of his social development. He shows a good awareness of others and the effect his interaction has on them.
Gross Motor Skills Development
John's gross motor skills also show a high level of development. He sits cross legged while listening to his teacher, gets up easily, and shows a good awareness of his body and how to maintain balance. He uses his hands in different ways, straightening his hair when the teacher ruffles it, for example. He seems very attentive to his own sense of style and what constitutes neatness and cleanliness. He washes his hands independently and without having to be told after meals and using the bathroom. He also claps hands enthusiastically when listening to music or singing with his classmates.
When playing outside, John is extremely active in terms of climbing, swinging, and balancing. There is a piece of piping set up close to the ground that children use to walk across and practice their balancing. John uses this regularly and appears to be faster and more dexterous than the other children getting across it. He is also very good at climbing across the equipment provided by the school and he enjoys using the swings.
He is very active when playing with his friends outside of the class confines. Particularly, he seems to like playing with the soccer ball. He is able to kick the ball to his friends, run after it, kick it while running, and kick it into the net provided for the purpose. He shows good control of the ball's movements and his own ability to manipulate the ball according to his purpose.
Fine Motor Skills Development
John experiences some challenges with his fine motor skills. These prove frustrating to him, especially during class time. While he is good at cutting along lines, John has difficulty writing his name. The frustration he experiences at this tends to make him act out and become angry and tearful. When this happens, he throws the pencil down and starts crying. The assistant helps him by comforting him and calming him down before picking up the pencil and placing it back into his hands. She then mimics how to write his name and he follows her suggestions. When he is successful at this, she praises him and this makes him smile and try again.
The puzzle also tends to frustrate John. When he is unable to fit the pieces, however, he does not engage in crying or throwing the pieces. He walks to the teacher and asks her help. The teacher shows him how to fit the images on the puzzle together and asks him to do it again. John seems to like working with building projects more willingly and calmly than at tasks like writing and coloring. His coloring seems to be on a good developmental level, however. He holds the coloring pencil correctly and generally stays within the lines. He uses appropriate colors, such as green for grass, yellow for the sun, and so on. When John is engaged in a task, he appears to concentrate and focus well. It is only when things are frustrating that he becomes angry or despondent.
As mentioned, John has some trouble with writing his name. Other cognitive tasks such as remembering and retelling stories also present some difficulty. While John is able to choose the appropriate colors for various parts of pictures he has to color, he becomes frustrated when he has to draw a picture of his own. Unless the teacher tells the children what to draw, John appears to be a little lost and uncertain of himself.
John does like to sing along with the rest of the group, however. He is extremely spontaneous in singing along, even if he is not familiar with all the words of the song. He needs a lot of guidance to create his own stories and pictures.
As for reading, John sometimes becomes confused between the "b" and "p" letters and tends to substitute letters for others during speech. When something engages his attention and focus, however, his cognitive abilities seem to spark a bit and he is able to retain information about a short poem or song.
Application of a Theory
Jean Piaget was the first to study cognitive development in a systematic way. Specifically of interest here is his theory of cognitive child development. There are various terms that apply in John's situation. Preoperational thought, for example, include egocentrism, appearance, static reasoning, and irreversibility. In John's case, there is a lot of egocentrism, particularly when he struggles with a task. It is extremely frustrating to him when he cannot immediately do or finish a task and this tends to make him act up. His egocentrism is also evident during outside play time. When he plays soccer with his friends, for example, he tends to like being the center of attention and keeping the ball to himself. His play is always in a spirit of jovial friendliness, however, and there was no observable fighting involving him during play time.
Despite the cognitive challenges, John seems well-adjusted and able to use the guidance of his teachers to accomplish the tasks he has difficulty with. With the puzzle, particularly, John did well using guidance to ultimately be able to build the puzzle himself. During the observation, the teacher has worked to provide challenging tasks to promote John's cognitive development. When John successfully wrote his name, for example, she provided additional words to write, which also included the letters "b" and "p"…