School Age Child Development
J'Anne EllsworthThe essence of increasing our understanding of human nature and working more effectively with youngsters is tied into our ability to observe. Observing includes more than what we behold. What we choose to attend to, what we give meaning to, and how we frame our perceptions provide context for our observations. We provide personal meaning as well, through our social and affective filter, things like our mood, social constructs, expectations and level of well being and development. Here is an example:
A young child is crying
I rush over to
help, for she is bright red, dancing up and down on an ant hill.
Kohlberg's work on moral reasoning underscores perception from a different angle. How we view situations and the ideas we use to resolve dilemmas is probably maturational. These examples provide a hierarchy that mirror of this.
I see a youngster looking at another student's paper during an exam.
He gets a zero for the test, since what he did is not fair to others.
I ask him to move away from his study partner and remind him that we take tests alone.
I talk with him later, explaining the importance of following rules and ask him to comply.
I am excited that he wants to achieve, and teach him better ways to succeed.
Another dimension comes from our foundational belief system. If I am a behaviorist, I view things distinctly differently from a humanist, and probably look for solutions in rather different ways. Table 2.2 on page 54 in the Santrock text book provides an example of this. Five different perspectives or theories are used to describe adolescence.
These examples are directly related to our ability to observe. As you do the observations for this class, work to recognize the perspectives you bring to the task.
Ground yourself as clearly as you can, to enhance the value of the time spent and those things that you observe.
In these exercises, do not try to be objective about what you see, but rather introspective.
Attend to your personal viewpoints and belief systems.
Honor and reflect on what you bring to observations.
If you can, go a step beyond and reflect on your observations from a distance, a more omniscient viewpoint.
Make accurate observations, descriptions and inferences about children's development
Try looking at this next picture of a kindergarten in China as an example.
Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu
Web site created by the NAU OTLE Faculty Studio
Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth
Northern Arizona University