Core Concepts of Prenatal, Infant, and Toddler Development (page 2)
After analyzing what is known about the brain, early experiences, and child development, the Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development from the National Research Council Institute of Medicine (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000) proposed that 10 core concepts frame our current understanding of early development. These core concepts of human development are based on clinical and research findings from 1925 to 2000 and “help to organize what is known about infants and families and to suggest what is yet to be discovered or understood”. These concepts provide a framework for thinking about what is important for infants and toddlers to develop optimally, how and when infants and toddlers best learn, and how problems in development can be prevented. As we enter the new millennium, parents and professionals have these useful core concepts as guides for interacting with very young children; for developing quality programs that support infant development and families; and for creating systems, laws, and public policies that value the amazing early years. These concepts are briefly introduced here and they will be revisited numerous times throughout the text. The titles of the core concepts have been rewritten to capture the primary meaning expressed in the concept.
1.Both Nature and Nurture Affect Children’s Development
It has often been asked which has more effect on a child’s development: nature (Genetic influences on the growth and development of a child.) or nurture (The influences of the environment, experiences, and education on the growth and development of the child.) This is no longer a controversy in the early childhood field. There is a complex interplay between these two in the development of an infant (Gottlieb, 1992). Both play their parts in shaping who the infant will become. The impact of the child’s experiences is dramatic and specific; it actually affects how the brain is wired for future learning (nurture). The quality of early care has a decisive and long lasting impact on how people develop, their ability to learn, and their capacity to regulate (control) their own emotions. On the other hand, scientists are making remarkable discoveries about the genes that govern the color of our eyes, the shape of our nose, and the susceptibility to certain diseases (nature). Those discoveries will further enhance our understanding of the interaction effects of environment and heredity (Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000; Olson, Vernon, Harris, & Jang, 2001).
2.Culture Influences Development and Child-Rearing Beliefs and Practices
All families and cultures have different backgrounds, experiences, dreams for their children, habits, and customs that guide their thinking about raising children (Coll & Magnuson, 2000). Everyone sees the world through the lens of their own culture (Small, 1998), and these beliefs about development, child-rearing practices, and family and community customs and routines continually influence the child and the family’s thinking and feeling. A rich and valuable array of beliefs and practices define who children and families are, how they interact and care for others, their traditions, and their way of life.
3.Self-Regulation Is an Important Indicator of Development
When infants begin to recognize when they are hungry or sleepy, focus on what is important, and tune out extraneous noise, for example, they are regulating their reactions to the world. When toddlers begin to express sadness or happiness without falling apart, attend without often becoming distracted, wait a few minutes for lunch, touch a flower gently, and process information without becoming overwhelmed, they are demonstrating self-regulation The process of adapting reactions to sensory experiences, feelings, the environment, and people.
One can see how these behaviors provide the foundation for all further learning. The ability to self-regulate is the backdrop of capabilities that allow the child to concentrate on a task, focus on another person’s feedback in a social situation, and control emotions in positive ways (Bronson, 2000a, 2000b; Kopp, 2000).
4.Children Contribute to Their Own Development Through Active Exploration
Infants don’t need lessons to learn to walk, or drill practice to learn to talk. Rather, babies desire to walk and talk; they practice on their own and with responsive peers and adults. They act on their environment: They put objects in containers to figure out where they go. They shake, bang, roll, and stack objects to see what will happen. They make all kinds of funny sounds to get a response from a laughing sibling. They have goals, such as getting a favorite adult to look at them or opening a door, and they experiment with different strategies to make these events happen. When all is going well, infants and toddlers are curious, energetic, and motivated to figure things out. They are communication partners who need to take a turn in a conversation, even if the communication turn is a sneeze or a soft cooing sound. When given the opportunity (and this is how they learn best), they follow their interests with adults who keep them safe, talk to them, nurture them, and support their learning. They are motivated to learn about themselves, others, and the world in which they live.
© ______ 2006, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- Problems With Standardized Testing