Preschool Observation Essay
On November 13, 2014 at Grossmont College’s Child Development Center, I observed Konnor who was born on March 11, 2011. At the center, there are roughly around 15 children between the ages of three and five; there is one adult for every six or so kids. The preschool center’s indoor environment is safely secured with a locked gate that separates the outside door which leads to the younger children centers and parking lot with the hallway to the learning and play area. There are two separate rooms, but they both have screen doors that lead to the same play area outside. The room on the left, which Konnor is placed in, was smaller than the room on the right but they both had similar types of equipment and activities that children could join in on together. Both rooms were decorated with the colorful artwork of the preschool children, several tables and chairs were surrounding the indoor area, and there was an activity awaiting for kids in every corner; not one child was left with nothing to do.
The outdoor environment is secured with a tall fence surrounding the outside area, along with a locked gate. The outdoors have many activities that encourage the kids to interact with one another. There are bicycles, a painting station, a mini-garden, a playground equipped with slides, a playhouse, large plastic blocks, and even a small stage for children to perform in dramatic play. The indoor and outdoor environment is secure for the children and encourages the children to interact with each other and play as well as learn.
Tantrums were thrown, children disobeyed orders, but, the adults handled every situation presented with a calm voice and they let the children know why their action was wrong and what they can do to fix it. For example, Konnor threw a fit because there was no bicycle available for him to use, a teacher came by his side and leaned down to his level, allowing eye-to-eye contact, and talked to him about it. Konnor explained the situation through sobs, but the teacher showed no look of frustration and stood with Konnor until a bicycle was available again. The center was decorated with photos of diverse kids in ethnicity and culture which is a eye-appealing way to teach kids about the diversity amongst each other.
The Child Observed:
Konnor is a 3 year and 8 month old male preschooler born on March 11, 2011. Konnor is lean with a fair complexion, blue eyes, a button nose and short blonde hair. He was wearing army pants, a gray t-shirt with a red and blue jacket, and gray sneakers. Konnor is of average height for a 3.9 year old at around 38 inches and weighs roughly around 30 pounds. Towards the beginning, Konnor interacted with many of his peers, he threw a tantrum, and even began to suck his thumb. Observing Konnor from the beginning, he reminded me of almost every topic discussed in class for his age group which made me choose him for the preschool observation.
Konnor jumps on the wooden stage in front of his peers and teacher and throws his hands above his head and into the air. With his legs in a straight position and slightly parted, Konnor leans down and places his hands onto the platform beside his feet. Keeping a firm, balanced position, he bends his elbows, places his head down, and tumbles his body over, creating a somersault. Konnor shows a growth pattern and according to Kathleen Berger, growth patterns are obvious with a comparison between a toddler and a preschooler, “The center of gravity moves from the breast to the belly, enabling cartwheels, somersaults, and many other motor skills” (225). Konnor shows a growth pattern because he was balanced when he leaned his body over in preparation for the somersault, and his hands and feet were placed firmly on the ground; he did not tumble over or stumble once. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this growth pattern since it appears at 2 years old (Ch. 8 PowerPoint).
Konnor begins to unstack the colorfully large, plastic Lego blocks. He grabs one blue block and places it to one side, and begins to do that with every other color presented to him. Konnor begins to stack up the Lego blocks separately according to the color; all the blue blocks were stacked neatly in a separate stack, as well as the red blocks and so on. Konnor shows maturation and according to Berger, maturation of the prefrontal cortex can be identified through observing children play certain games such as Simon Says, and “the color game,” which was found that children were able to sort the cards out by their color. (234) Konnor shows maturation because he was able to unstack the uncoordinated colored blocks to color coordinate them, unlike a few children surrounding him who profusely stacked the blocks, regardless of the color order. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at 3 years old (Berger, 234).
Konnor picks up a tree branch that has fallen beside a tree, he stares at it and looks up at the tree and back at the branch. With the branch still gripped firmly in his hand, Konnor begins to lift his body to wrap his arms and legs around the tree. Hugging the tree with his body, Konnor begins to ease his way up the tree by pushing his legs up first to scoot the lower half of his body up, and then lifting his arms up further to scoot up his upper body as well. Konnor shows gross motor skills and according to Berger, gross motor skills are defined as, “physical abilities involving large body movements, such as walking and jumping” (145).
Konnor shows gross motor skills as he lifts his body to meet the tree as well as scooting his legs and arms up the tree to move up further which requires the use of his large muscles in both his lower and upper body. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for gross motor skills as it appears 8 to 10 months after birth (Berger, 145), but, Konnor is not within the norm for an activity, such as climbing a tree, since it appears at 5 years old (Berger, 238). Cognitive Development:
Konnor picks up a tree branch that sits beside a tree and he begins to feel the leaves hanging from the branch and curves his lips upwards. Konnor takes a deep breath and says, “Hi, plant! How was your day?” as he begins to shake the plant for a response, Konnor responds to the tree branch that he, too, is having a good day. He sets the branch down back where he found it and says his goodbyes to the branch as he walks away. Konnor shows animism, which Kathleen Berger defines as, “the belief that natural objects and phenomena are alive” (259). Konnor showed animism because he began to have a minimal conversation with the tree branch and asking it how its day was as if it were animate. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development as it appears at 2 years old (Berger, 257).
The teacher gives Konnor a cup and spoon like hers and asks Konnor to wait for further instructions. Konnor begins to stir the brown sugar that the teacher placed in his cup until it is well mixed like her mixture. The teacher pours some vanilla extract into her cup and then hands over the vanilla to Konnor and asks him to pour it into his cup full of brown sugar. Konnor does what he is told and waits for the rest of his teacher’s instructions; the teacher tells Konnor to stir the mixture once again just as she does hers until the caramel is formed. Konnor shows guided participation, which Berger defines as, “the process by which people learn from others who guide their experiences and explorations” (262). Konnor was able to make the caramel by watching his teacher do every step in making the dip along with her explaining to him verbally as to what to do in each step. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at 3 years old (Berger, 262).
Konnor holds the tree branch in front of his face while two of his peers surround him. He keeps a grasp onto the stem until the leaves on the branch begin to rustle against each other and Konnor opens his mouth in a form of an ‘O’ and raises his eyebrows up. Konnor turns to his friends and says, “Did you see the leaves move?! That means the plant is dancing and is happy to see me.” Konnor shows theory-theory, which Berger defines as, “the idea that children attempt to explain everything they see and hear by constructing theories” (266). Konnor must have seen leaves rustle in the trees previously and waited with his peers for something to occur with his branch. Konnor believes that when the leaves on a tree or a plant begin to move along with the wind, it means that the tree/plant is dancing because it is happy. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at 3 years old (Berger, 267).
Konnor stands across his peer on the wooden play stage and lifts his arms up and roars like an animal. His peer proceeds to do the same, but Konnor stops and says to his peer, “you have to be louder; throw your hands up and roar!” His peer does what Konnor suggests and Konnor nods his head at him. “Now get on the floor and roar!” Konnor says as he shifts his body down on the wooden platform so his knees and hands are placed on the floor. Konnor continues to roar along with his peer on the play stage and tells his peer to follow him just as he begins to circle his body around the stage. Konnor shows social mediation, which Berger defines as, “human interaction that expands and advances understanding, often though words that one person uses to explain something to another” (264). Konnor had to stop to explain and show his peer how to roar loudly like him by telling him how through a minimal conversation as well as demonstration. Konnor then instructs him what to do next such as to get on the floor and to follow him and continue to roar. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at age 3 (Berger, 264).
Konnor picks up a tree branch that sits beside a tree and he begins to feel the leaves hanging from the branch and curves his lips upwards. Konnor takes a deep breath and says, “Hi, plant! How was your day?” Konnor waits for a response while the branch is held in front of his face, then continues to talk to the branch by saying “I’m having a good day too, plant!” Konnor shows fast-mapping, which Berger defines as, “the speedy and sometimes imprecise way in which children learn new words by tentatively placing them in mental categories according to their perceived meaning” (270). When talking to the tree branch, Konnor kept referring the branch to a “plant” because he believes that anything with wood and leaves is considered a plant. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at around 12 to 18 months (Berger, 270).
Konnor stacks the plastic Lego blocks on top of one another with a peer until their desired height. His peer grabs a blue plastic Lego block and throws the plastic block at the stack which causes Konnor to gasp and raise his voice at his peer. A teacher comes over to the two boys to see what the problem was and Konnor says, “teacher, he throwed the block and ruined this.” while referring to the now tumbled over stack. Konnor shows overregulation which Berger defines as, “the application of rules of grammar even when expectations occur, making the language seem more “regular” than it actually is” (272). Konnor shows overregulation by saying “throwed” instead of the proper past tense term “threw”. He believes it is the proper term because he shows that he knows that the letters “-ed” create a past tense word. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at 3 years old (Berger, 272).
Konnor stacks the plastic Lego blocks on top of one another with a peer until their desired height. His peer grabs a blue plastic Lego block and throws the plastic block at the stack which causes Konnor to gasp and raise his voice at his peer, asking him why he did that. A teacher comes over to the two boys to see what the problem and Konnor explains. Konnor shows emotional regulation which Berger defines as, “the ability to control when and how emotions are expressed” (289). Konnor shows this behavior because even when he expressed his feelings toward his peer by raising his voice, he knew not to overreact verbally or physically and asked his peer why he did what he did instead. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears between the ages 2 and 6 (Berger, 289).
As Konnor finishes stirring his brown sugar and vanilla extract in the cup, he looks around the round table where a few of his peers surround them; he sees that they are still stirring their ingredients in their cups. Konnor curves his lips upwards, and raises his cup to his teacher and says, “look, teacher! I’m done!” the teacher responds with, “well done, Konnor! Wait for everyone else to finish their dip.” Konnor continues to curve his lips upwards and sits back in his chair while his peers finish mixing. Konnor shows pride which a very positive high concept and self esteem (Ch. 10 PowerPoint). Konnor shows pride once he realizes that he was the first to finish mixing the ingredients together and shows his teacher that he was already finished. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this development since it appears at age 3 (Berger, 290).
Konnor stacks the plastic Lego blocks on top of one another with a peer until their desired height. His peer grabs a blue plastic Lego block and throws the plastic block at the stack which causes the stack to tumble over and the blocks scattering around the floor. Konnor gasps and furrows his brow at his peer and says, “You are mean! I don’t like you!” Konnor shows antipathy which Berger defines as, “feelings of dislike or even hatred for another person” (305). Konnor shows antipathy toward his peer right after his peer knocked over their stack of Lego blocks, which required much of their time, by furrowing his brow and raising his voice at his peer. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is not within the norm for this behavior since it appears at age 4 (Berger, 306).
Konnor stands beside the tree and watches his peers ride on the tricycles. Konnor furrows his brow and raises his voice saying, “I want to ride on one!” A teacher walks to Konnor, asking what’s wrong, and Konnor says, “I want to ride on a tricycle!” Konnor’s teacher explains to Konnor that they are all taken by his peers and that he would have to wait until one is available. Konnor stomps his foot on the ground, continuing to furrow his brow and says, “No, now!” Konnor walks over to one of his peers who is sitting on his parked tricycle and demands him to get off so he could ride it. His peer tells Konnor that he is riding it, which makes Konnor grasp onto one of the handles and pull it towards his body, causing his peer to raise his voice and call for a teacher’s help.
Konnor shows instrumental aggression which Berger defines, “behavior that hurts someone else because the aggressor wants to get or keep a possession or a privilege” (306). Konnor shows this behavior because he kept raising his voice at his teacher and his peer in order to get what he wanted, which was to ride one of the occupied tricycles, as well as pulling a tricycle towards him from a peer who was already using it. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this behavior since it appears at age 2 (Berger, 306).
Konnor and his peer get on their hands and knees in the sand and begin to shift their bodies to move around the play area. Konnor raises one hand in the air and sways it back and forth as he says, “roar!” His peer waits until Konnor finishes his ‘roar’ then proceeds to do the same and then continue to crawl around in the sand and raise their voices to, “roar” together. Konnor shows cooperative play which Berger defines as, “children play together, creating dramas or taking turns” (296). Konnor shows this behavior since he played with another individual in the act of being an animal and taking turns in roaring and swaying their arms around. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this behavior since it appears at 3 years old (Berger, 296).
Konnor stands across from his peer and throws his hands in the air over his head, furrows his brow and says “roar! I’m a tiger and I’m going to eat you!” his peer jumps, turns around, and proceeds to run around the play area while his mouth is open and his lips are curved upwards, he says “you can’t get me!” Konnor runs right behind him, his arms still rose above his head and continues to say, “Roar!” Konnor shows rough-and-tumble play which Berger defines as, “play that mimics aggression through wrestling, chasing, or hitting, but in which there is no intent to harm” (296). Konnor shows this behavior by acting like a preying tiger and telling his peer that he will eat him while roaring and then chasing him around the play area. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this behavior since it appears at 3 years old (Berger, 297).
Konnor stands across his peer on the wooden play stage and lifts his arms up and roars like an animal with his peer. Konnor throws his hands up above his head and lifts his knees up then stomps his feet across the platform and continues to roar and growl. Konnor stands across his peer and furrows his brow at him, which makes his peer do the same; Konnor then shakes his head from side to side, his arms still above his head and he roars once again.
Konnor shows sociodramatic play which Berger defines as, “pretend play in which children act out various roles and themes in stories that they create” (297). Konnor shows this behavior since he and his peer began to pretend that they were animals on the wooden stage. He and his peer were roaring just as they have probably heard an animal do and also stomp their feet which mimics an animal pouncing. At 3 years and 8 months old, Konnor is within the norm for this behavior since it appears at 2 years old (Berger, 297).
Though there was a painting station that gave children the opportunity to sit down and paint whatever they wanted to, Konnor did not take part in the activity during the time I observed him; thus, not showing the behavior of artistic expression. Artistic expression is defined as young children being imaginative and creative and loving to show it in drawing, dancing and building without being self-critics (Berger, 242). Berger states that the norm for this behavior is 2 years old (242). Reflection: Significance and Application
While observing Konnor, I had noticed that there were times that he was much like his peers in many behaviors, and also different than his peers in other behaviors. I believe the preschool has been a major influence on Konnor’s development because when there are acts of good behavior, he is praised and when there are acts of wrongdoing, he is informed of why that is and given time to reflect on his behavior.
From the observation and from this assignment, what I’ve learned about child development is that no matter how any child is raised in their own home and environment, they all share many similar attributes behavior wise. Towards the beginning, I was overwhelmed when I saw all of the children running around freely; I didn’t think I could choose just one child, and if I did, I didn’t think that their behaviors and acts of play would suffice. Surprisingly, when observing Konnor and his peers that he would play with, I noticed that they are all much alike even if they show it just a little bit differently than another child. Kids will be kids, as they say.