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Pattern and Sequences of Child Development

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 3149 words Published: 20th Oct 2017

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Before birth, after and until adulthood children grow and develop continually. They follow an expected pattern of development to reach a stage to the next. However, we observe that each children develop at their own pace of time. With some children there may be delays in their pattern of development.

In general, the pattern is seen in the growth of the body from head to toe, then the building of muscles to gain control on the body and then the formation of speech and the emotional responses are acquired.

In order to describe the developmental process of the child, practitioners should base their observations on the following area of development;

Physical Development

This area of development studies how children acquire the below physical abilities to perform certain activities.

Gross Motor Skills – These are movements made by large limbs such as kicking a ball, pulling a heavy object or throwing an object.

Fine Motor Skills – These are fine and precise movement shown when holding a pencil correctly, retrieving a tiny object from the floor.

Locomotive Skills – These are skills for balancing the body such as walking on a line, standing on one foot for a few minutes.

Cognitive Development

This area of development describes the intellectual development of the child. Children show a profound development in receiving, retaining, processing information. They are learning to think logical and understand. They are able to form imagination and learn problem solving skills.

Communication Development

This area of development considers the ability to communicate information in the form of speech, verbal and non-verbal, reading and writing, asking questions, discussing and gestures through body language.

Social and Emotional Development

This area of development deals with children’s ability to express their feelings and emotions. It also includes forming relationships, self- identity, social behaviour as how to speak courteously, caring for oneself and others and also how to deal with their emotions.

Moral Development

This area of development is closely related to the Social and Emotional Development. Here children are able to learn how to distinguish between right or wrong activities, how to react and behave towards others, how to make the right choices and they develop abstract moral reasoning.

Researchers have observed that the development of children follows an expected stage in the form of time spans. This is referred to as Four Stages of Development according to Maria Montessori.

First Plane of Development (0-6 Years) – The Period of Infancy

0-3 Years

The human baby is fully dependent on the adult for its movement and interpretation of his needs, unlike other species of beings that are able to walk or make same kind of noises like their adults, almost immediately after they are born. The human child can only express by crying. Physically the child is disproportionate, for example, the child’s head is much larger in proportion to the whole body. By the age of three the child is significantly more independent and although physically still disproportioned the child has acquired movements, if not perfect but reasonably coordinated.

3-6 Years

During this period the child of three although more physically proportionate than the child between birth to three, the child is still perfecting his coordination of movements. The Absorbent Mind along with the Sensitive Periods is still functioning, the child is absorbing all the impressions that surround his environment; however he is now able to question and reason before he accepts what he sees. The period between three to six marks the period of expansion, consolidation and completion. The child during this period is attracted to more challenging activities and his hands, Maria Montessori refers to as “the instrument of his intelligence” aids him to explore his environment sensorially. The child is ready for an environment outside his home; however “Help me to help myself” is his exclamation.

Second Plane of Development (6 – 12 Years) – The Period of Childhood

At this stage the child is physically independent and is stronger. The child constantly engages in activities to test how strong, fast, daring and challenging he/she is. The infant soft hair disappears and the first tooth falls. The child becomes slim, lean, limbs become larger showing proportion of an adult. There is mental and physical stability, a uniform growth.

The period is characterised by reasoning and imagination. The child builds a bridge towards abstract thinking. The child seeks for intellectual independence. The motto here is “I can think it myself.”

This is the period when the child is attracted to peer groups, what Dr Montessori refers to as the “Herd Instinct”. Normally, this group is of same sex. The group gives sense of belonging and tend to dress alike. They develop a feeling of loyalty. There is constant seeking of approval for their actions. The group consists of a leader, person second in command and the followers/doers of tasks, what is termed as “dog’s body”. They form a mini-organisation and establish strict rules and maintain intimate secrets. Dr Montessori believes that influence of such group is so essential that it prepares a child to perform grown up tasks efficiently, it develops the spirit of integrity, power of will and reasoning, able to make decisions, deduce, organise, plan and acquire problem solving skills. The child is also able to experience responsibilities to the group and its functions.

Third Plane of Development (12 – 18 Years) – The Period of Adolescence

Arrival of puberty marks the end of childhood and is the beginning of adolescence. Enormous changes occur both physically and mentally. Physically, between the ages 12 – 15, the body is disproportionate, example the boys develop longs arms and they become conscious of their appearance and clothing. The body reaches full maturity between fifteen and eighteen. The period is aimed at constructing a social self. It is characterised by self concern and self assessment. By exploring wider cultural issues, in relation to society at large, the adolescent is capable of critical thinking and re-evaluation. Studies show that they are susceptible to anorexia, bulimia. Psychologically they become more aware of the social being and therefore are ultra sensitive, antagonistic to authority, easily discouraged, experience emotional highs and lows, emotional doubts, experience a decrease in intellectual activities. The adolescent becomes interested in music, drama, dance and other creative activities, because these activities allows them self-expressions and begins to idolise people and organisations, which can lead to appreciate social values or engage in anti-social behaviours. This is the period when the child seeks to gain financial independence with the motto, “I can get it myself”. Montessori envisioned this period as the “Erd Kinder” or “Children of the Land”.

Fourth Plane of Development (18 – 24 Years) – The Period of Maturity or Adulthood

The fourth plane of development is similar to the first plane, in that it is the period of consolidation and expansion. This plane depends on how the child has passed the earlier planes of development. If all the needs in the above planes have been fulfilled the child will feel secure and well adapted to his environment, is more able to make decisions on how life should be and how to contribute to the human values. This period is characterised by construction of self-understanding and spiritual development. The person is seeking to know one’s own place within the world. The personality seeks to enhance emotional independence and the motto is, “I can stand on my own”.

Influences of Development

Young children are easily influenced by various factors in the environment which affects their learning and behavioural process. They can be affected by various social, environmental, economic and biological factors. Studies are conducted as to how the development of children is affected by both personal and external factors.

Personal Factors

Personal factors are those that are influenced by nature or genetic formation such as,

Problems during pregnancy and at birth

An embryo is made up of 46 chromosomes which carried the genetic information of both male and the female partners. An embryo may not survive if there are changes in the number of chromosome.

If the embryo does survive, the extra or the missing chromosome will cause an effect in the learning and development of the child. For example, Down Syndrome is caused due to an extra chromosome.

The foetal development of the child can be also affected due to mother’s behaviour towards health. If the mother continues to smoke and consume drugs during pregnancy can harm the child.Children with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) have distinct facial features including small and narrow eyes, a small head, a smooth area between the nose and the lips and a thin upper lip. They also show symptoms such as hearing, facial, immune system problems, epilepsy etc. Children can also be affected if they are born prematurely whereby there development can be delayed


The development of the child can be affected due to genetic disorders. For example, a blood disorder such as sickle cell disease can be a barrier for development, as the child may not be able to fully participate in any physical activities which require gross muscle movements.


Children with disabilities are challenged with cognitive abilities and physical growth. Many disabilities are caused due to genetic conditions at birth, for example Down Syndrome.

External Factors

Many external factors are also reasons affecting children’s development. They can be broadly divided into,


In the United Kingdom many children are experiencing adverse poverty levels causing physical, social, emotional and psychological distress. It has been observed that they are mostly due to Relative Poverty rather than Absolute Poverty.

“Relative Poverty is a comparison of income compared to the average. It is concerned with the material things and personal possessions that society sees as requirement to live daily life.”

“Absolute Poverty is a lack of basic human needs including food, shelter, warmth, sanitation, health care and education.”

Children affected by poverty are seen to lack necessities such as;

a) Diet

A balanced diet consists of right amount of vitamins and minerals in the food, important for the growth and development of children. Families experiencing poverty tend to purchase cheap and highly processes food. These foods contain high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt causing obesity and malnutrition, the factors largely affecting the social and economic condition of the society among young people and adults.

Imbalanced food further affects the diet leading to lethargy and hyperactive conditions which further cause behavioural problems among children in their physical, social and emotional factors.

b) Housing

Families experiencing poverty or those who fall under the lower income group may have insufficient housing facilities, with inadequate ventilation and heating problems causing colds and asthma. Children living in crowded houses may not have opportunities for physical exercises thus leading to obesity and delay in physical development.

c) Play and Leisure Opportunities

Children require opportunities to socialise and make use of the various social clubs and settings to develop their physical and social skills and personal interests such as hobbies. Families who are unable to afford the finances may not be able to help their children to make use of these facilities, including transport to travel to and back from the social clubs.

Family Environments and Backgrounds

A healthy family environment and background is profound for children’s development. Families that are able to provide balanced diet, good housing and play and leisure opportunities contribute to the well-being of children’s development. However, some families are unable to do so due to poverty or lower income causing depression, usage of drugs and alcohol among parents affecting child development.

Family Circumstances

Stress is another major social issue among families. Conditions such as long term illness, bereavement or separation among parents and other family members creates adverse effect on children’s physical, social and emotional development.

Personal Choices and Decisions

As children grow older, they are faced to make decisions independently thus causing peer pressure in their societal conditions, leading to consumption of alcohol and drugs. Usage of such substances may cause depression, anxiety, behavioural problems and the development of the brain. When they are not able to make purposeful decisions young people suffer dietary issues leading to malnutrition and obesity.


Parents are the first educators. The values and beliefs children learn at home are vital for early social and personality development. A good quality education support children’s ability in intellectual development which helps to form self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. Educational organisations such as schools, clubs, church should be provided such that children are supported in their social and moral development.

Why Development May Not Follow the Expected Pattern

The growth of children is observed to follow an expected pattern. They follow a successive developmental stage each supporting the other stage of development. At times there are delays in achieving this milestone which allows further investigation as to why the delay has been occurred.

The following factors are outlined to describe the dilemma as to why the development may not follow the expected pattern;

Emotional Influences

Children are seen to thrive in a safe and happy environment. When children are able to develop attachment with their parents, other members of the family, peers and practitioners their emotional needs are fulfilled.

Physical Reasons

Children should be provided with appropriate environment such that their physical needs are fulfilled. If children experience delays in their growth, their physical development can be affected.

Environmental Factors

Family and outside environment such as school and clubs play an important role in children’s development. External influences have an immense effect on children’s physical, social, emotional and psychological well-being.

Cultural Reasons

Cultural differences influence the development of children. For example, cultures that give higher priority to male genders cause difficulties and missed opportunities for female children to thrive in their society, where statutory education or an inclusive practice in maintained.

Social Influences

Certain structure and lifestyle followed by families may not be appropriate for child’s growth. Parental separation, for example can cause negative effect on children, causing anxiety, stress and fear. Children may become without and find it socially challenging to communicate.


Children with disability may find it difficult to challenge the factors affecting their growth if parents, peers and practitioners do not provide the right kind of environment to support their developmental needs.

Early Intervention

When the child is seen to experience a certain delay or delays in his learning and developmental abilities, it is important to identify the appropriate ways to support the child in those needs and if need be, to bring it to the attention of other professionals for further support. Primary care and early intervention is necessary to reduce the effects of such delays in the developmental growth of the child. It is important for children in the long run. When early intervention is given, children are able to develop their skills and abilities required for further educational and other social needs, which in turn supports in their overall development by experiencing success as adults.

The following emotional challenges are observed to be experienced, where delays affecting development are not given appropriate early intervention;

  • Frustration
  • Changes in Behaviour
  • Fewer Opportunities

The Role of the Childcare Setting in Early Intervention

Early year educational settings can play an important role in identifying the special needs or conditions in children and providing appropriate resources and materials that support their learning and developmental skills. A key worker for each child should be assigned such that the practitioner is able to observe the interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes special needs of the child. A close observation and assessment of the child’s development can be helpful to identify areas where the child feels challenged or faces difficulties in performing a certain activity. According to the EYFS, it is essential that a regular and formal review of the children’s progress is carried out in the early years settings in areas such as,

  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development

A regular health check should also be followed to review the progress of children’s development such that they are given appropriate support by using effective resources and materials.

Meena Sugandha SEN Level 3 Page 1



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