Science-Based Observation of a Toddler's Development

As mentioned in the background information, Peter has interest in vehicles, particularly cars. From the observations, it was also evident that he showed a lot of interest in construction with the LEGO blocks. I was able to observe Peter having pretend play with the blocks and also deepening his play as he tried to recreate his mental representation using the materials he’s been provided with. Providing Peter with loose materials can also further enhance his current interest in construction. Peter also seems to be interested in self awareness of the body.

He like to explore the environment by doing things alone, such as grasping objects and carrying the spoon back to the container. While actively searching for opportunities to be independent, he discovers what other tasks his body can help with. He also tries to balance and pace himself as he walks.

Physical Development

Toddlers are impulsive, curious seekers of knowledge who depend on their movement and senses to examine and explore real objects and experiences.

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According to Erikson’s Psychosocial Developmental Theory (1950), children of this age group develop a sense of personal control over their physical skills and they enjoy autonomy.

Physical movement is a child’s first natural approach to learning. In observation 3, Peter jumps about during the music and movement activity to move to the beat of the music. The child is able to take in new information, adjust it to their present posture and mode of locomotion and learn how to solve it. This is achieved through practice in constructing balance and control.

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(Adolph & Eppler, 2002). Peter’s perceptive information tells him if a particular movement is safe from the current position that he is in. Dance elements such as body awareness build spatial awareness in children. Integrating this dance element in activities will allow children to explore locomotor and non-locomotor movements.

Again in observation 3, Peter is able to jump off the ground during the music and movement activity. As he did this, his arms were swinging back and forth in alternate directions. This shows that he has good arm coordination as he has developed strong muscles in his shoulders, arms and muscles. Peter exhibits the locomotor skill of jumping for height. He is in the stage between initial and transition as although his able to jump off using his feet, his arms are not yet coordinated as they tend to swing backwards as he takes off. (Fun Start Move Smart, 2010). Children of this age group are able to able to jump up with both feet off the ground at the same time without holding onto any support. (HPB, 2014, p.20). This shows that he is in track with his developmental milestone. This area could be further reinforced by giving Peter opportunities to practice his arm-limb coordination as he jumps. As Peter walks to dispose his food, he is able to alternate his footsteps. He is able to walk upright by lifting his feet up as he moves. (Fun Start Move Smart, 2010). As seen in observation 1 and 4, Peter demonstrates good palmar grasp as he is able to reach out and grab the objects like blocks and crayons firmly and tightly with his palm. The child is in the second stage of pencil grasp development as he uses palmar grasp to hold the crayon and utilise arm movements to scribble on the pink paper with this grasp. (Wilkinson, 2015). Occasionally Peter also displayed pincer grip in observation 1 and 2 as he rotated the handle and picked up the vegetables. Children from 15 to 18 months are able to pick up small objects using their pincer grasp. (HPB, 2014, p.15). This shows that Peter is in track with his developmental milestones. In observation 2, Peter utilised tripod grasp to feed himself the food. Peter has also developed trunk elasticity and control as he is able to get into a crawling position with his knees bent in front of his body (Observation 1). He has mastered good eye-lower body coordination, independence and balancing skills to hold his body upright.

Cognitive Development

One of the significant outcomes of routines for children is enhanced cognitive development. Routines allow the child’s brain to think, learn and remember. Peter seemed to know the procedures that place during meal time. This was evident as when he put his both hands together to recite the prayers and able to return the spoons back to the container before sitting down for his fruit (Observation 2).

According to the pre-operational stage by Piaget (1951), children play an active role in the learning process, where they act like little scientists as they experiment and make observations. Children of this age group are in the stage whereby they assimilate new knowledge, and adapt previously held ideas to accommodate new information. This allows Peter to actively build his own understanding of the world through exploration. This is evident as due to his prior experience of an manipulating with a baggage carousel he knows that the handle can be rotated, and when that happens that happens the belt will move. Thus, he was able to put the girl figurine into the carousel as he has already developed the idea that it can be used to move objects. During the pre-operational stage, children also use symbols to represent words and ideas, which is why they engage in symbolic play. However logical thinking is still not present, so the child cannot rationalism or understand complex ideas. This is evident when he pointed to his construction and shouted “This is my boat!”. Children of 36 months of age engage in pretend play whereby they pretend by imagining an object without needing the concrete object to be present. (Park, 2004). Children of 2 to 3 years old are able to play imaginatively and get involved in pretend play. (HPB, 2014, p.18). Piaget (1951), explains this to the child not developing new cognitive structures in play, but merely trying to fit new experiences into what they already know. Pete is in track with his developmental milestones as he is able to play and manipulate with the toys in his natural environment in creative ways. Providing opportunities for children to get involved in pop-up play where they are provided with loose parts which are open-ended materials and can be incorporated to invite creativity, encourage problem-solving and create endless possibilities to reinforce on his cognitive abilities.

Social-emotional Development

Interacting with both adults and peers provide immense amount of learning opportunities for young children. During the first three years of life, children develop the capacity to experience the emotional and psychological state of others. (Zahn-Waxler and Radke-Yarrow, 1990). When children play and interact with others, they are learning more about social behaviour, including how to express themselves, how to take turns and how to apply empathy when dealing with others.

In observation 3, Peter seemed to have acquired the principles of turn-taking in a conversation as he was able to listen and reciprocate back to the teacher’s question as he shouted “Me!”, when the teacher asked who wanted cookies. According to Rubin, Watson and Jambor (1978), toddlers engage in parallel functional play. Children of this age group continue to play on their own, even if they are beside other children or may be using the same toys. This is evident as although everyone is presented with the same sets of LEGO blocks, they each build their own structures in the base plate. Although they talk, they each have their own conversations and there is no attempt to communicate with each other. However at the same time, Peter exhibits associative play which is the next stage in Parten’s different stages of play (1929) because he responded to his friend’s action by repeating it. This can be seen when he continues to put the figurines in the carousel together with his friends. Peter shows interest in what his other friends are doing and he is able to practice what he observed by putting the figurines in the carousel and attempts to play together. He is still in the initial stage of associative play and is slightly ahead of his current milestones (Observation 1). Peter’s social competence and interest of interacting with others could be further strengthened by providing opportunities for play dates where children can together with each other in a game setting.

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Science-Based Observation of a Toddler's Development. (2019, Dec 20). Retrieved from

Science-Based Observation of a Toddler's Development

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