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Child Development and Learning

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Age 0-2 years

The average attention span of a child aged between 0 and 2 years is very limited. They are not able to remember anything they were doing a few seconds ago. This is typical of any young child from the above age bracket. Therefore, many activities should be recommended in order to help increase their attention span.

First, reading to children is a sure way of encouraging them to sit down and pay attention. They will be encouraged to sit down as they look at pictures and follow the story as it is being read to them. This way the average attention time and ability to concentrate develop, as one continues to read and the book grows in detail and length (Healy, pp 68-72).

Infants have been observed to rely on sensory stimuli to explore the environment. Though very selective at this age, young children do not deliberately choose faces on which to concentrate. Therefore, to enhance a child’s attention of this age bracket, some things need to be done.

First, there should be a minimal entertainment and stimulation. Infants are prone to acquiring a habit and can easily get accustomed to getting more entertainment instead of doing what is natural, i.e. learning more about their surrounding. Continuously stimulating an infant will make a parent become exhausted and bored. According to the available research, young children do not easily get bored. They are interested in the way their bodies can move, smell, and sound. They usually require a length of time in order to experience and assimilate their learning, thus improving their attention (Johnson, pp 54-57).

Between 0-2 years, the child should be prevented from watching too much TV, as this is of the most drastic ways of adversely affecting the child’s attention span. The reason is that they overwhelm the child’s attention at the expense of enabling the child to develop the muscle flex focus.

 The use of simple toys can also enable the child to increase its attention span. The reason is that they will not be distracted from examining every small detail of the toy. The child could place it on its face, wave it, listen to it, or roll it into a ball. Children are usually stimulated with things they cannot comprehend, such as rattles and jingles. Toys will, therefore, enhance the child’s attention instead of enhancing its ability to focus and investigate.

A child aged 0-2 should only be observed if the activities they are engaged in are harmless. The child could be looking at a fan, gazing out of the window or grasping dust. If the child is distracted, it means that its concentration level has reduced. The baby should also be able to choose what it likes. Young children are more interested in things they choose for themselves and not in what is chosen for them.  This means that allowing the child to choose for itself will enhance its focus, interest and concentration.

2-4 years

When a two-year old child performs some activity, an adult should be present to give the child active encouragement. Children aged 2-4 develop a number of developmental changes, as compared to infants. They begin to show their sense of inidividuality through acts of self-expression, make-believe play and self-expression. During this time, the child ceases to be a pre-schooler and may complete his first grade.

During this period, the child will grow by 3 inches and increase in weight by 4 and half lbs. By the age of 4, the child will weigh about 42 lbs and be 42 inches tall. At this time, the child’s appetite will begin to decrease. Its physical activities will, however, begin to increase. Baby fat will disappear, as its body will become slimmer and lengthier. The brain by the age of two will grow by approximately 75% of the adult weight. At the age of 4, the child’s brain will experience rapid growth.

The attention span of a child during this period can be increased through playing and talking to it. This will enhance a child’s focus on the play, and help it understand what it is doing in detail. Learning to follow a child’s interests will also encourage its attention and focus. Distraction is to be avoided as much as possible.

When a child is four years old, it may become so engrossed in its activities that it may even reject a call for dinner. Alone, a four-year old child spends approximately 8 minutes on a single activity, or even as many as 15 minutes, if the activity is new or interesting. Four-year olds can have their attention improved through being assisted to achieve their intentions, such as understanding their playing activities and offering them interesting games.

4-7 year olds

4 to 7 year olds can do an activity chosen by an adult, such as getting dressed and brushing their teeth. At five years, a child begins to ignore minor distractions. When left alone, they can pay attention to activities lasting for more than ten minutes. A group of children of this age bracket can play together for ten to fifteen minutes without being interrupted. To foster attention span of children of this age bracket, parents or adults should recognize that giving these kids personal motivation is important, especially to the five year olds. To double the duration of attention span for seven year olds, one is advised to build up the child’s interest and be prepared to assist the child with difficult activities whenever necessary.

Task 1b: Role and Function Memory and Concentration Have in Children’s Learning

Children can learn letter names and know what they sound like through repetition. For instance, singing songs like the Alphabet Song is a very useful tool, which enhances learning amongst children. By repeating letters over and over again, children begin to memorize them. The teacher can pair letter names with their pictures by using flashcards, so that children can recognize what they are what they look like. As a result, children will be able to recognize and memorize letters much faster. It is also advisable to introduce sounds to accompany flashcards. Hold the cards up and have children pronounce letters shown on them.

Apart from remembering letters, children should remember some sight words, which can help them become better readers. These words may include colours, such as red and yellow, as well as the use of articles ‘a’,’an’, and ‘the’. By having their memory improved, children will be able to quickly grasp these ideas, thus improving their ability to learn.

Writing words down is also a good way to enhance learning. The best way to do this is to get the children to write all the words they have read from a text. If you have read a text with your child, you may select some words from the text, tell your child their meaning and have it write them down at your dictation. In case of any difficulties, the child will be corrected after repeating words.

Most children are able to read, but sometimes it is difficult for them to comprehend what they have read. Learning in itself is a natural process, but learning to read is something to be practiced. It is a skill that ought to be learned, and it cannot be learned properly if the brain is not ready.

In essence, concentration and memory are very important stages in learning. For the child to fully understand information, it should pay attention to things happening around it, so that it can learn or concentrate. By being constantly given information about a particular item, the child is able to learn faster.

Parents and teachers should not ignore concentration, as it is essential for faster learning. The child’s brain is able to remain focused providing there is a stimulus. However, the stimulus should be good enough to enhance memory, which is an important learning tool. The key to success lies in concentration and attention. Children who are able to concentrate are in a better position to learn faster and internalize ideas.

Task 2: Written Description

By:

Subject: Cooking

Grade: One

Additional Subjects: None

Instructional Setting: Whole Class or Groups

Student Population: 20

Description of the Lesson

The students begin by watching a video about cooking followed by a class discussion on cooking. The lesson concentrates on ways of cooking various meals. By the end of the lesson, the students should be able to prepare the meals by themselves.

Safety 
- Make sure that cutlery and hot plates are placed at a safe distance from children. Flammable substances should also be kept at a safe distance;

- Ensure that there is a fire extinguisher;

- Since cooking oil may splatter, always ensure that the students have protective clothing on;

- Do a trial run to see how long it takes for a plate to get too hot, so as to avoid possible burns;

- A healthy menu could involve clean dishes, clean food and clean cooking items;

Caution: Children under 12 should not be allowed to use a stove without due supervision of adults.

English Muffin Pizza

Ingredients:

- 1 dozen English muffins

- Shredded mozzarella

- Ready-made pizza sauce

Instructions:

- Split the muffins open

- Lightly cover each of the muffins with the sauce (1-2 teaspoonfuls)

- Sprinkle with cheese

- Bake the muffins in a toaster for about 10 minutes at 350°F.

- Avoid overbrowning

Task 2a:  Activity Evaluation

This cookery session should be done with the help of a grown-up so that instructions to the students are given as they partake in the activity. The children should be told to evaluate their cookery skills according to what they have learnt in class. They should be able to explain how the muffins are prepared at home. If some of the children do not know what muffins are, they should be made to know. The method should be shown to them, so that they understand what they are and how to prepare them (Johnson, pp 67-69).

The cookery session should be evaluated systematically. Every successful step should be noted, and each of the students can earn points there. However, the major drawback lies in the fact that the work is performed in groups, and the teacher may not be able to understand the capabilities of each student.

The cookery session will enable the students to acquire some basic cooking skills and knowledge. It will also instill in them kitchen discipline, and make them observe hygiene. The students will be able to appreciate the role of the cooking session in strengthening their learning.

Task 2b: Comparing and Contrasting Theories of How Children Learn Certain Concepts.

There have been numerous theories that tried to explain how children learn. According to the child-initiated learning theory, learning is initiated by the child itself. do By doing things repeatedly, young children constantly get experience This means that they will be in a better position to understand the world around them. Activities that stimulate child-initiated learning include cooking, singing, listening and retelling stories and interacting with others. Some children also take part in activities initiated by adults, hence their ability to learn. This will also make them learn independently.

The child will be able to make its decisions about what, where and how to do things. They will then need enough for playing, experimenting and exploring some issues. They also need support form adults during their playtime. Under this learning theory, the child should be encouraged to explain what it has done, how and why.

Child-initiated learning is very important because  it enhances motivation and encourages creativity in children,. Children will develop a stronger sense of experience when they create their own learning styles.

The cognitive child development theory by Jean Piaget states that a child thinks differently from an adult. Children are constantly learning new information about the world. Children can, therefore, be considered ‘little scientists’, as they constantly construct their knowledge in order to understand their world.

Another learning theory is the maturationist theory. According to this theory, development and learning process are sequential. It posits that children gain knowledge as they continually grow, if they are in good health.

According to this theory, readiness to go to school is a state in which healthy children are able to perform such tasks as reading and arithmetic. School readiness occurs naturally meaning that parents should be helping their children to recite alphabet or do some counting even before they go to the kindergarten. If the child is still unable to accomplish this task, it may be taken to transitional kindergartens or kept out of school for an extra year.

The environmentalist theory argues that the environment shapes the behavior of the child, thus motivating the child to learn. Unlike the maturationist theory, this theory believes that readiness to go to school (kindergarten readiness) is a stage when young children are able to appropriately react to the school environment, and even more to the classroom environment. The ability of the child to respond to this environment is a kind of learning. Here, the child’s success depends on the ability of the child to follow instructions and fit in the school environment. According to this theory, if the child is not ready to go to school, it should be helped to understand more of the environment around him. At home, parents are supposed to tell their children about different plants and animals, as well as practice some interactive activities that will make them understand their environment well.

Task 3: Written Description

Lesson Plan for a Music Session

Grade: 6-12

Overview:

This is a scene from the film “Amadeus”, in which the main character arrives when a music session has already started. This prompts him to ask if the conductor is necessary. Children should seek to answer the role of a conductor, such as his gestures, symbols, musicals sounds and musical stories concerning fame and failure.

Scope and Use of Activities:

By using multimedia, students should be able to investigate art, development and authority of conducting music, and especially music ensembles.

The activities should be arranged in ascending order of challenge. The activities should be done separately, but can be combined into longer sessions. Students’ creativity and imagination should be encouraged here.

Objectives:

Students should investigate the eventual development of orchestral conducting, namely:

- evaluate gesture and non-verbal communication

- trace the origin of composer-conductor

- assess the impact of social, technological and political changes in music and musicians

- consider the impact of social, technological and political changes on music and musicians

Teaching materials:

Legendary Maestros: The Art of Conducting -VHS and audio CD

Great Composers - VHS and audio CD

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns - VHS

Rock’n’ Roll - vhs

Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note - vhs, dvd, audio cd, a book

Gift of Music: Leonard Bernstein, VHS, audio CD

The Art of Piano -VHS, audio CD, book

Copeland’s America: Celluloid Copeland - audio CD

Great Performances, a Celebration - book

Self-Expression in Children

Self-expression is very important in children’s sensory and intellectual development, since it enhances their confidence by allowing them to express their ideas, thus enhancing their creativity. Parents should play a critical role in promoting self-expression among their children, so that it can shape their intellectual performance in the future.

Children should be allowed to make their own simple decision, such as how to dress. If their clothing is inappropriate, adults should step in order to help them. By being allowed self-expression, children will be able to independently perform a task, thus enhancing their learning. This way, children’s intellectual performance will be increased. Self-expression among children has been linked to the important factors that promote good performance in school, as it helps children develop intellectually and personally.

Task 3b: Role of Music, Stories and Books in Children’s Creativity

Music is a very important in the development of children’s creativity and learning. A child loves music so much that it is thrilled by it from birth.

Scholars have established that letting a child listen to music when it is still in the womb helps a child develop intellectuality. Music also helps the child relax, enhances memory development and improves sensory coordination. Teaching children music will enable them to dance as music is played. Musical movements will thus enable children to learn body awareness, coordination, balance and rhythm.

Books play a very important role in improving children creativity. Reading books and stories helps children enhance their language skills. The more children develop their reading ability, the more they are able to learn different subjects. When what they read is enjoyable, learning also becomes enjoyable, thus improving children creativity. If children are helped to read books at an early age, they will be able to gain great mastery of the subject matter. Reading enables children to learn proper grammar and pronunciation.

Task 4-Written Easy

Factors Affecting Language and Communication Development of Children

Social stimulation has been found to greatly influence the development of communication and language abilities in children. Parents should constantly encourage language development in their children so that they are able to speak fluently. Reading and speaking to children enables them to comprehend how language is structured.

Quality of Childcare

 The quality of taking care of children affects language development to a large extent, and especially in toddlers. Children with high-quality care are more likely to learn good communication skills than those who never experienced quality childcare. A three-year old toddler who enjoys a high-quality childcare has a more developed vocabulary than the one who enjoys lower quality care.

A Child’s Medical History

Medical and behavioral concerns greatly affect a child’s language development. If a child has language disorders, such as stammering, it can have difficulties in understanding and comprehending communication patterns. There are some children who try hard to understand their peers’ feelings or they might be having difficulties of their own caused by the language disorder. A child’s medical history may also have some influence on language development. For instance, ear infections can negatively affect language development and communication abilities.

Task 4b: Obtaining Information on a Child’s Language Development

Language development of a child begins in the womb. An infant who is only one hour old is able to differentiate between its mother’s voice and that of a different person. In the first three years of a child’s development, its brain is maturing and developing. A child acquires language and communication skills at this stage. The skills can develop well in the world where there are plenty of sights and sounds, as well as exposure to speech. When the brain is able to absorb language, a child can easily learn from the speech and language patterns around. The sound it makes imitates what adults say, until it is able to utter a word. The first criterion for language development in children is when they realize that crying will bring food, companionship and warmth. When a baby is six months old, it is able to know sounds of its mother tongue.

Children have various language and speech development skills. However, they have a common natural progression of development and mastery of language. The milestones in language development are required by doctors in order to know if the child makes good progress in terms of language development.

Ways of Establishing Effective Language Development.

There are various ways of establishing language-rich environment. The first method is to ensure that a child is provided with a number of items, such as jingle bells that produce sounds, so that a child can know different sounds. When a child is in touch with its environment, each aspect of language and communication skills is important. A mother should constantly teach a child how to speak by reciting some words with it. There are multiple vowel words that a child can easily comprehend, such as words mama and lama. Therefore, a child will gradually expand its vocabulary by understanding more complex words as it he continues to learn.

Task 5a: Lesson Plan for 2-4 Years that Promotes Communication Skills

Contributor:

Subject: Communication

Grade: 4

Additional Subjects: None

Instructional Setting: Small groups

Student Population: Grade Level

General Description of the Course

Students should understand the importance of communication skills, as well as the role of communication and speaking patterns. The lesson focuses on how language skills are acquired, and how should be used in a real life setting. Students should learn various communication skills, such as writing reports.

Students should be encouraged to adopt good communication skills and be able to speak well. The evaluation criteria involves the students’ ability to come up with good communication skills (Healy, pp 102-103).

Adults should be present in order to teach the children how to gain good communication skills. They should be guiding the children on speech mannerism and ways of pronunciation, too.  Another reason is that the presence of adults will motivate the children to learn better and faster, as they will get a feeling of being praised for the work they are doing. However, the presence of adults will make the children feel less free, hence inability to express themselves well.

Task 5c: Factors Affecting Communication Skills

There are various factors that affect communication skills of a group. The first factor is lack of corporation. When some group members do not want to contribute, group communication skills will be less effective. In a group discussion, for example, members are supposed to personally contribute to the debate so that the communication skills being tested can be efficiently monitored. Failure of members to contribute could cause problems.

Another factor is inadequate knowledge of the subject matter. If students cannot comprehend what they are discussing, there may be problems with enhancing communication skills. Bias and prejudice are the two major hurdles to acquiring group communication skills, as some members will not be given a chance to contribute.

Task 6: Activities that will Meet the Needs of an Individual Child

Children have different needs for learning. There is a number of activities that need to be performed to meet the needs of individual children. The reason why this is important is because the child needs to be trained to understand concepts of communication and language skillsto be able to understand all these issues. Since children fail to grasp all of these concepts, there is a need to consider this.

A child with a language disorder may not be allowed to study with children who have good language skills. This is explained by the fact that a child with hearing problems may need special assistance. Bringing them together may be effective but damaging to a child with special needs.

Task 6c: Early Childhood Curriculum

A child’s learning environment is not confined to home setting, but also includes what it constantly learns by itself. The learner outside his own home and the relationship between what he has learnt at home and the new environment constitute the second level of learning. The other level is working environment, the mass media, neighborhood and other informal social networks.

Before the implementation of experimental pre-school initiatives in 1950, there was a minimal variation of early childhood programs. This, however, changed with the implementation of programs for pre-schoolchildren. New curriculum models were developed which catered for the needs of children in various grades.

The question of how to educate the four-year olds was raised. Policies on how to educate younger children were mentioned in the curriculum . The most widely known curriculums include the Creative Curriculum, High-Scope Curriculum, and Montessori Method. However, the most developed model of childhood curriculums is the Montessori system. It is very balanced and takes into consideration the needs of students.

Early childhood curriculum promotes programmatic quality by consistent implementation of highly articulated curriculum policies, thus raising the program’s quality in the early childhood education (Johnson, pp 90-920).

The role of adults in planning cannot be underestimated. Children always need adults to plan their learning and make sense of their new discoveries. They need to be sure that everything they do is perfectly acceptable. However, there is a problem of adults not making their intention of helping children clear enough. Adults’ role in children’s learning and playing should, therefore, be encouraged in order to enhance effectiveness of learning among children. The adults’ intention should be made known to children and they should understand what adults require of them. Effective planning should be made in such a way that children would benefit from the playing activities they are involved in. Occasionally, adults should ensure that the playing activities children engage in are creative and effective for children’s learning. When an adult realizes that the child is involved in an odd activity, he or she should be ready to correct the child (Healy, pp 45-47).

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