Early Childhood Development


Early Childhood Development






This research aims at examining various theories that have been proposed as regards to child development. The development of these theories was prompted by the need to examine how different aspects in terms of intelligence level, ecological factors and behavioral changes contribute to a child’s development. The research focuses on the concepts affecting growth in each theory while giving a different view on childhood development. A brief comparison with works by Teresa McDevitt aims at outlining the concepts depicted in both the theorist approaches and the book. An opinion stating the preference of research in early childhood development describes the importance of the research as a guideline when attending to small children. This research shows the need to educate teachers, parents and the public at large on the varied approaches to be used in forming interpersonal relationships with children and setting up environments aimed for child development.


Early Childhood Development


The overall development of a child is more pronounced in early childhood. Several changes occur in regards to the physical, mental and cognitive aspects in a child (Lindon, 2012). An approach in learning early childhood development creates a rapport between practical means and theory. It gives a guide to caregivers on how to inculcate theory to daily routine and practices. A study in early childhood development is necessary as it is a vital area in children’s lives and plays a major role in their overall development to maturity. Different theories have been formulated in an effort to understand this development aimed at educating teachers and caregivers as they provide quality care and education to the children.


Developmental theories are well planned out systems governed by principles that outline phases of child development (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004). The main function of these theories it to assist caregivers in comprehending and interpreting behaviour in children. They also help them to differentiate typical behavioral traits from distinctive ones thus, they are capable of making decisions on which type of care or services the child needs. The existing theories differ in the sense that each of them offers different perspectives on childhood development despite the fact that they are drawn from similar fundamental principles.

Early childhood theories focus on pointing out the nature of childhood, its role, the character of a child and its application in society (Mooney, 2000). The theories are from an adult’s standpoint revealing emotional and psychological importance of childhood by using contrasting elements. The theories are aimed at explaining different aspects observed in early childhood and offering a guideline to teachers and caregivers on handling children.

Socio-Historical Theory

The theory illustrates that children learn high function skills through interacting with an adult or a capable peer. Caregivers, parents and adolescents are responsible for developing skills in children as they interact with them. This learning process is also known as cultural development. The theory is centralized on a concept known as zone of proximal development. This zone is defined as the difference between two levels of development in a child. The first level is acquired, though reliant on solving problems independently. The subsequent level is achieved through solving problems under the assistance of a capable peer or adult. This zone encompasses the capability of a child to learn and acquire skills with assistance.

Multiple Intelligence Theory

Concerning early childhood development, multiple intelligence theory illustrates that teachers, caregivers and parents should identify the strengths and weaknesses of a child in the process of learning (McDevitt& Ormrod 2002). This assists in strengthening areas where they excel in while taking time in improving their weaknesses in a progressive pace. The theory challenges the education system, which assumes that all children have equivalent abilities in learning. This is untrue, and educators are advised to consider other methods of teaching children that will ensure the needs pertaining to improving their weaknesses are met.

Maturational Biological Theory

This theory attests to the fact that the physiological and genetic development of a child contributes to the cognitive skills learnt as the body structures develop. Arnold Gesell illustrates this theory by stating that development in the brain is said to be an automated process that requires no education or guidance. The rate of maturation is dependant on the genetic schedule of each child. An instance illustrated by the developer is that be ability of a child to crawl, walk or run is a manifestation of brain and physiological structure development.

Behaviorist Theory

This theory illustrates that development is based on the type of environment the child grows in and it is not a hereditary trait. This theory is supported and developed by theorists Watson, Skinner and Bandura. It recommends that preparation of the environment in which a child grows is of utmost importance. Illustrations provided by the theorists include a child behaves in the correct manner in order to get appraisal from the caregiver, and that improper behaviour results in punishment, these two schools of thoughts illustrate how overall behaviour of a child is reliant on the environment.

Psychodynamic Theory

Developed by Sigmund Freud, it focuses on behavioral development of a child regulated by the subconscious mind. He explains that some of the behaviors exhibited by a child are linked to the early childhood interactions experienced. This theory focuses on behavioral problems that may result from negligence or failure to interact with the caregivers in early childhood.

The concepts of the theories are similar those learnt from “Child development and education” by Teresa M McDevitt as they revolve around equipping teachers and care givers with sufficient knowledge on how to handle and interact with children, nurturing their talents and capabilities in the learning environments. The major concepts are the sequential events that lead to development, factors contributing to development and the level of intelligence.

The preference of choosing this topic, early childhood development, stems from the desire to understand the dynamics behind developing skills and learning in an infant or toddler. The fascinating aspect being that there is no prior knowledge or experience that assists in acquisition of these skills. The knowledge attained from this research enables me to offer guided assistance to children and student pertaining to their physiological development and in nurturing their abilities.



McDevitt, T. M., & Ormrod, J. E. (2002). Child development and education. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Lindon, J. (2012). Understanding child development: 0-8 years. London: Hodder Education.

Mooney, C. G. (2000). Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.









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