Child Development

Understanding child development means that we as carers and parents can understand skills and typical behaviours of children within our care, providing an environment which is nurturing and one that will foster growth. Laura Berk (2000) provides a simple definition of child development; “a field of study devoted to understanding all aspects of human growth and change from conception through adolescence.” (Berk: 2000, p4). This paper will look at three important theories of child development that you as a teacher or parent should know in order to understand the changes that take place from birth to adulthood.
When we talk about child development we refer to three stages called development areas;
    Physical development involves the growth and change in a person's body and body functions. In this domain we look at the physiological and motor development as well as the influences of health, illness and nutrition.
    Cognitive development refers to the growth and change of a person's ability to process information, solve problems and gain knowledge. In this area we consider the study of brain development, memory, learning, thinking, language and creativity.
    Social-emotional development involves the growth and change of our interactions with others and our feelings. Included in this area is the study of relationships, emotions, personality and moral development. Whilst we discuss each area of development separately it is important to realise that they do overlap. One domain can influence the other.
Interest in the field of child development began early in the 20th-century. (ref) Many theories have been put forward to explain why and how children develop. Theorist Jean Piaget played a major influence on the way we understand children. He explained children's development in terms of their cognitive development in a theory known as Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Piaget believed that children think differently from adults, arguing that it's not that...