Early Childhood Development
Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development
Key Developmental Characteristics of the Early Childhood Stages
The need to build trust and secure relationship with the primary caregiver
The basic needs of care, love, comfort, attention, nutrition as children at this stage are reliant on others
Cries to signal need and discomfort
Physical development and mobility
Exploration and seeking independence
Strong and multiple attachments
Sense of self as a ‘Me’ being
Heighten separation anxiety due to strong attachment to primary caregivers
Short attention span
Defiant behavior (‘no’)
More structured language
Seeks objectivity with ‘why’ questions
Role modeling adult
Simple project completion
Defiant behavior (stand my ground non-verbal posture and or defiant ‘why’ questions)
Group rules awareness
“Play is the Work of the Child”- Dr. Maria Montessori
When are children most happy?
They are at their best beaming with smiles, laughter, and delight when playing, running around, exploring toys, sand, water, and other play objects and situations.
A child through play can naturally reveal his/her inner world, interest, and capabilities, which helps educators understand the child better and engage and provide support in an individualized manner. Lev Vygotsky (early childhood theorist) bolstered this fact when he stated that, “A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that will tomorrow become his basic level of real action and morality.”
If we take our minds back to when we were young, we all wanted to play and often wished we had been allowed to play longer when asked to stop playing.
Play is the genuine inclination of children, and like adults who feel inclined to work, children’s natural business and drive is play.
Play, as succinctly put by Dr. Maria Montessori, “is the work of the child.” When children are allowed to play, they have fun, learn, and thrive. Therefore, the teacher’s job is to provide opportunities for free-independent play and exploration hours, set a safe, stimulating play environment, observe play, correct behavior, and intervene for safety while approximating teachable moments.
In a nutshell, play is not an option, but a fundamental human right of children, as the United Nations recognizes. Play is food for children’s well-being and development; therefore, an early childhood developmental framework devoid of play is ineffective. Effective early childhood pedagogy is one based on play!
Types of Play
The following types of play help children to have fun, explore the environment better, learn and grow:
1. Symbolic Play: A play scenario where children use objects and actions to represent other objects. A paper cone or banana becomes a phone on the ear. A child picks up an orange, and it becomes a ball to kick around.
2. Socio-dramatic Play: An advanced form of symbolic play that involves preschoolers using their imagination to make-believe (pretend play) roles and actions of others as they interact with others during play.
3. Physical Play: Play activities that involve movement (crawling, walking, running) to explore the indoor and outdoor environments.
4. Object Play: Play that involves the exploration of objects. Exploring objects requires hand-eye manipulation and all the senses to see how things work.
5. Games Rule Play: Play activities that are guided by negotiated rules when play involves more than one person.
6. Cooperative Play: A group play where children enjoy playing with others which fosters friendship, collaboration, emotional bonding of kindness and empathy, communication, negotiation, and problem-solving
Themes help children to play and learn naturally and to experience the connectedness of learning activities. Children’s brains are not fully developed; therefore, repetition, pattern formation, interconnection to the basic form of the natural world they experience help with brain development and learning.
A child-centered curriculum employs a theme approach to learning, as themes help children’s brains form related patterns.
A theme-based program of activities spins an integrated web that shows a relationship between a single subject, its relationship with subsections, and daily fun, interactive play scenarios. Therefore, fun role-playing of firemen makes a connection with mechanics, trucks, water, shapes, colors, safe practices, drawing, letters (‘F’), numbers, writing, reading, social-emotional skills (kindness, empathy, listening).
Theme-based activities enable preschool teachers to be flexible and to take children’s interests and seasonal changes children can identify with easily into consideration. Springtime, Fall and the colorful leaves, winter and snow, spaceship as Nasa and SpaceX lift off.