Establishing an after-school care center is a good idea to ensure healthy growth and development for children between ages 3 and 12. It is important to note that children require constant monitoring and guidance to help them stay on track, feel comfortable, and enhance active development. Scientists have tried to explain how children develop into adulthood using various theories and observation-oriented data. The various scientific principles are very significant to ensure the smooth transition of children through various stages of development. Here are some central themes of child development that would translate to different needs for children of different age groups.
Themes of Child Development
Nature and Nurture
The nature of children such as personal characteristics, genes, and the tendency of their behavior interact with the nurture they receive from the parent at home, teachers at school, peers, the general society, as well as the physical environment. The interaction between the child's nature and the above environment dictates how they develop self-esteem, personal intellect, and other crucial qualities (Dweck & Bempechat, 2017). The interaction between nature and nurture begins early in the life of the child, even before birth. Piaget's cognitive developmental theory implies that the inborn characteristics of a child determine the nurture they receive as they grow (Bever, 2017). B. F. Skinner confirms this assertion by adding that the child's development occurs through processes of association and reinforcement. However, timing matters a lot when it comes to managing the phases of growth as the child transitions from age 3 to 12. During this period, children undergo active development and require proper guidance to instill morality, positive attitude, and self-esteem that they need as they develop into adulthood. It is at this point of child development that everything influences everything (Demetriou et al., 2016). It means that every single bit of control applied to guide the welfare of the child influences the child's personality and characteristics such as self-esteem, attitude, behavior, and interpersonal skills. Growing up in a friendly environment where love and care are paramount can do a great deal to help the child develop good self-esteem and value for others.
Children play an active role in their own development
Scientists have realized that children are critical to their own healthy development. Behavioral theories of development imply that children are keen to details about everything happening in their environment (Dweck & Bempechat, 2017). They are very observant and eager to fit into the environment by imitating what they see their parents, teachers, and peers do. This makes them able to influence their own development by making meaning of experiences, imitating others, controlling their emotions, and eliciting other people's reactions. All these factors subsequently contribute to the development of personal behavior.
Child development is both continuous and discontinuous
The behavior, attitude, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills of children develop continuously as they grow up. Children pass through stages of development through which they undergo physical, cognitive, social, educational, and emotional growth. In terms of behavioral display, parents and caretakers should know the stage at which the child is undergoing to enable them to manage that stage well (Swim, 2015). Understanding the child's critical values at every stage is crucial. Freud's psychosexual development theory suggests that experiences and unconscious desires of a child greatly influence their behavior. According to Sigmund Freud, conflicts a child experience during the growth stages may cause a lifelong influence on their behavior and personality.
The socio-cultural context of a child shapes their development
As children grow up, personal relationships such as culture, technology, and economic circumstances influence their development. However, the effects vary due to different factors such as differences in societal values and practices, the difference in time and place, and the difference in circumstances within the society (Weiss, 2017). Erikson's psychosocial developmental theory suggests that social interactions and experience the child undergoes in a given society influence the development of both personality and behavior. According to Erikson, children face various challenges during each developmental stage that serve as significant turning points. Successful management of these challenges produces lifelong psychological virtue. Parents and caretakers must know these challenges to provide the appropriate guidance that would help the child to overcome them successfully. According to the behavioral perspective of child development, environment influences all human behavior (Hopkins et al., 2017). Some behaviorists such as Burrhus Frederic Skinner and John Broadus Watson noted that learning takes place through processes of association and reinforcement. Behavioral theories of child development postulated by B. F. Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, and John B. Watson consider the socio-cultural context to influence child behavior and personality (Houston, 2017).
Individual Differences in Child Development
Children exhibit a diverse array of differences due to varying demographic psychological characteristics. Demographic characteristics include ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, and race. Psychological characteristics include personality, artistic ability, and intellect. Child's experiences while growing up also contribute to individual difference (Houston, 2017). The family plays a critical role in child development. Children whose parents are divorced may lack the essential love and care from both parents causing significant differences in the course of their development (Sampson, 2017). Moreover, the child's level of activity is also a critical factor contributing to individual differences in the developmental course.
Piaget's cognitive theory of development suggests that a person's thought processes influence how they understand and interact with the world. As the children grow up, they undergo different development in mental state and thought processes. Piaget noted that these thought processes influence the child's personality and behavior (Green & Piel, 2015).
After-School-Care Program for Children Aged 3 - 6
Children aged 3 - 6 require programs that are full of fun. The program involves both indoor and outdoor activities done as a group to help them develop excellent interpersonal skills. The activities aim at enhancing a healthy sense of self-esteem, self-regulation and a solid foundation for moral development (Keenan et al, 2016). The following are the two primary programs that would be run in the after-school-care for children aged 3-6.
The indoor program will inculcate activities such as information game, singing, doing puzzles, and tracing letters, among many others.
Information Game - the children will participate in learning information about self and other people. Through suitable games, children will get involved in knowing who they are, where they come from, addresses, parent's name, phone numbers, among others.
Singing - songs will be used to pass an essential message in the simplest way that children can easily remember. The experienced children guide professionals can compose lovely songs enjoyed by children and contain critical information to help them develop self-esteem and personality.
Puzzles - playing puzzles with children helps develop their thought process and enable them to gain a more meaningful sense of self-regulation.
Outdoor activities will present a great way of helping children learn and appreciate their distinct differences. The children will be given the opportunity to interact with the natural environment together to share ideas and appreciate each other's view of the environment. The children will engage in activities such as walking, observing flowers, insects, and small animals. During this program, they will be taught the importance of keeping the environment clean and preserving the life of all living organisms. As a result, they will learn moral values and how to get along with each other.
After-School-Care Program for Children Aged 7 - 12
Children aged 7 - 12 are in a crucial stage of development where they need proper guidance to prepare them to get into adulthood. The program will involve both indoor and outdoor activities that help in challenging and developing their creativity, thinking skills, imagination, and social skills. Successful fulfillment of these critical factors will enhance the children's self-esteem, self-regulation, and moral values.
Children will participate in a variety of indoor activities such as singing, group discussions, reading, and public speaking, among others. As they participate in groups, they will be able to learn and appreciate other people's understanding of various aspects of life. According to B. F. Skinner's behavioral theory, children will develop behaviors based on the influence of the environment. The experienced child guide professionals will help instill moral and ethical values in these activities and enhance the virtue of self-esteem and self-regulation. Children will be given the opportunity to choose what they like most and explain it in front of their peers. They will learn etiquette in communication and active listening.
Outdoor activities will seek to enrich moral codes of conduct and sense of self-regulation. Children will participate in such activities as nature walk to interact with and learn about their environment. They will go to selected places to appreciate the beauty of nature. They will also go to places destroyed by human activity to learn problems of destroying the environment and help suggest ways to preserve the environment. Other outdoor activities will also include a variety of games such as football, netball, hockey, volleyball, and athletics, among many others. The activities will help enrich their talents and help them realize what they can do better (Keenan et al., 2016). In the process, children will be able to gain self-esteem, self-regulation, and moral values.
Bever, T. G. (2017). Regressions in mental development: Basic phenomena and theories. Routledge.
Demetriou, A., Shayer, M., & Efklides, A. (2016). Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development: Implications and applications for education. Routledge.
Dweck, C. S., & Bempechat, J. (2017). Children's theories of intelligence: Consequences for learning. In Learning and motivation in the classroom (pp. 239-256). Routledge.
Green, M. G., & Piel, J. A. (2015). Theories of human development: A comparative approach. Psychology Press.
Hopkins, B., Geangu, E., & Linkenauger, S. (Eds.). (2017). The Cambridge encyclopedia of child development. Cambridge University Press.
Houston, S. (2017). Towards a critical ecology of child development in social work: aligning the theories of Bronfenbrenner and Bourdieu. Families, relationships and societies, 6(1), 53-69. Retrieved from https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/frs/2017/00000006/00000001/art00004
Keenan, T., Evans, S., & Crowley, K. (2016). An introduction to child development. Sage.
Sampson, R. J. (2017). Family management and child development: Insights from social disorganization theory. In Facts, frameworks, and forecasts (pp. 63-94). Routledge.
Swim, T. J. (2015). Theories of child development: Building blocks of developmentally appropriate practices. Development, 10, 27.
Weiss, H. B. (2017). Family support and education progra...
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