Setting: The observation took place in the child’s home. The child’s home is a semi-detached house in a housing estate
Immediate Context: This observation took place in the kitchen. TC is seated at the kitchen table finishing his homework. His father is nearby washing up at the sink. The observation took place at 2.30 in the afternoon. An hour after TC returned home from school. TC’s brother and sister are running around the kitchen while another brother is sitting at the table playing Lego.
Name of Child: TC
Brief description of the child: TC is a male aged 6 years and 5 months. He has been in school since September 12 months ago. He has one older brother (aged nine) three young brothers (twin 3 year olds and a 2 year old) he has a younger sister also (aged 2 years). Because of the number in his family he is very active and talkative.
Aim of observation: The aim of this observation is to observe TC for a period of time of 10 minutes in order to assess his language development.
Observation: TC is sitting on a chair at the kitchen table finishing off his homework he is drawing objects that begin with “I”. He asks how to spell ice-cream, igloo and ice as these are the shapes he’s drawing. He takes out a sheet filled with words to learn. He is now looking at his words and pronouncing them. TC has finished his homework and packed away his bag. He takes out a sheet a paper.
TC -> A “Daddy how do you spell IGLOO?”
A -> TC “ I-G-L-O-O”
TC -> A “How do you spell ICE?”
A -> TC “I-C-E”
TC -> A “How do you spell ICE-CREAM”
A -> TC “Well you already have ice on your page copy that first”
TC -> A “but I need to spell ice-cream”
A -> TC “ Write down ICE then put a – then put C-R-E-AM”
TC -> A “Okay”
A -> TC “Are you finished now Ois?”
TC -> A “Where’s Mammy Daddy?”
A -> TC “Show me, what it is?”
TC -> A “No it’s for Mammy, not you; you won’t know what to do with it!”
A -> TC “ok she’ll be here in a minute she’s gone to the bathroom”
A1 -> TC “what’s wrong Oision?”
TC -> A1 “this is a letter for you from teacher”
A1 -> TC “what’s it about?”
TC -> A1 “The parent teacher meeting”
A1 -> TC “ok what have I to do with it?”
TC -> A1 “you have to read it and fill it out for teacher”
A1 -> TC “oh right okay you go on and play so, good boy”
The aim of this observation was to observe and record the language of TC, a six year old boy, for fifteen minutes as he finished his homework and engaged in conversation with his parents in order to gain a better understanding of his language development. I feel that I achieved this aim very well and that generally TC’s language development appears to be within the normal range for his age.
Certainly, TC’s word pronunciation is accurate. He does make little errors tough e.g. he says “ate” for “eight”. This is usual for his stage of development. While children between four and five years pronounce most words correctly, they “may show some immature sound substitutions” (Flood 2010)
One of the theorists I have studied is Skinner (1957), Skinner believed “that learning, including language learning, occurs as a result of reinforcement.”
Another theorist I have studied is Bruner(1915-). Bruner believed first-hand experience allows children to develop their ideas and thinking, he called this “enactive thinking”.
Bruner stress the importance of the child’s environment in language development. He believes “The adults and more able peers in a child’s life provide what he calls a language acquisition support system (LASS).” Motherese, recasting, expanding and labelling all part of this system .
Key stage of language development
Gross Motor Skills
• Child tries to understand the meaning of words. The child uses adverbs and prepositions. The child talks confidently, and with more and more fluency.
• The child uses language creatively. The child adds vocabulary all the time.
• The child is an explorer and communicator; he or she begins to be able to define objects by their function – for example, “what is a bicycle” “you cycle a bicycle”.
Fine Motor Skills
• A young child does not learn well in isolation from other children and adults. The child begins to share as he or she learns. Sharing sharpens and broadens the child’s thinking. This helps the child to learn better – for example, he begins to understand book language, and that stories have characters and a plot (the narrative).
• The child begins to realise that different situations require different ways of talking. The child establishes a sense of audience (who he or she is talking to).
In summary, TC’s language development in terms of both fine and gross motor skills seems to be just on target and have reached the developmental milestones expected for his age.
Personal Learning Gained
• I learned more about children’s language development. I know understand the terminology of “labelling”, “semantics”, “syntax”, “recasting” and “ expanding”.
• I learned that in order to do so accurately, a tape recording with transcription is advisable.
• Child Care & Education (5th Edition) (Bruce, Meggit, Grenier) Hodder Education
• Planning Play and the Early Years (2nd Edition) (Penny Tassoni, Karen Hucker) Heinemann
• Child Development for Students in Ireland (Eilis Flood) Gill&Macmillan
• Education & Care in the Early Years (4th Edition) (Josephine Donohue & Frances Gaynor) Gill&Macmillan