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ESE504 : The Class : Elementary : SACD

School Age Child Development

J'Anne Ellsworth

The 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.
I feel remorse, for she is sobbing and I give her an apology.
I feel panicky for everyone in the room looks over at us.
I feel anger, for an adult is shaking her.
I try to ignore the whole thing, since inoculations serve an important end.
I understand, for the child looks tired and ready for a nap.

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.

    I am immediately angry because "he knows better", and I tell him so right then.
    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.


1. Refresh yourself with the five areas of PEPSI (physical, emotional, philosophical, social, intellectual) by reviewing the text readings.

2. Review the PEPSI developmental charts, looking at the summary V charts for each discrete area of development. (Note: These links take you to the reading where these charts are located). Make copies of the three years that include the age group you will be observing. It is an excellent idea to observe youngsters similar in age to those you teach, to gain the most support toward enhancing classroom management concepts.

3. Print off the observation charts for looking at different areas of development.

4. Review the ethical guidelines for research and observation. Complete any advance notification or permission processes before beginning observations.


1. Choose three of the five PEPSI areas for observation.

2. Use the observation chart to make a note of your initial observations, then respond by filling out the matching reflection sheet.

3. Report the areas observed, and a note that all three observations were completed.

4. Write a short essay, responding to the following:

a)Insights about this age group
b)Questions I now have as a result of the observations
c)Observations I plan to do in the future


Excellent: Performed three observations and completed the reflection sheets. Essay includes insights gained about youth, new questions that emerged as result of the observations and a list of new questions for further study. Insights show depth of reflection, clarity of the purposes of observation and cogent follow-up questions that would emerge from the type of developmental concerns that led to the observation.

Good: Performed three observations and completed the reflection sheets. Essay includes ideas about youngsters, new questions that emerged from observing and at leas some clarity about the importance of following ethical guidelines.

Marginal: Observations were performed but there is little reflection or recognition of the value of the experiences. Additional readings will be provided to assist the student to grasp observation and reflection skills

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