Fine muscle skills

Fine muscle skills are not so well developed as large muscle skills in a preschooler (Kaplan, 1998). However, a five year old is able to draw pictures that represent people, animals and objects (Oesterreich, 1995). Some children might be more advanced in drawing pictures than others, depending on the environment and practice opportunities. Emily enjoys drawing very much, she was introduced to pencils and paper at around one year of age, which helped her to develop her hand-eye coordination to a great extent. She loves drawing pictures of her parents and siblings in front of their house. She is also able to label her parents on the picture with “mum” and “dad”.

On of her favorite activities is tracing or copying letters that her mother has written for her. Especially on occasions, like Christmas or birthdays, Emily loves dictating short messages to her mother so she can write it down for her and she can copy the letters and write her own greeting card. This exercise stimulates not only her fine motor skill development, but also her cognitive development, that is being able to identify some letters from the alphabet.

Emily’s fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination extends to being able to tie her shoes and fasten buttons on clothes. She also uses a knife and fork at meal times, which is another proof of fine motor skill development. The physiological and motor skill development is dependent on some factors that one can and cannot influence. Such factors are genes, which cannot be influenced by someone and the environment, which can be changed to a great extend if desired (Kaplan, 1998). Genes for example influence the height and weight of a person or body build.

Environmental factors can include social and cultural aspects or one’s position in the family. How parents support their child’s development, e.g. with nutrition, sleep patterns and exercise opportunities, is also an environmental factor that acts on the child’s overall development. Nutrition is a very important factor for optimal development (Leifer, 1999). A healthy diet, composed of fresh meat, vegetables and fruit, contributes to an optimal development of a preschooler. Sweets should be limited because they can spoil the small appetite of a preschooler and contribute to tooth decay (Leifer, 1999)

Emily is a healthy eater, although she is sometime a bit particular. She can eat a big meal at lunchtime and then eat almost nothing at dinnertime. This is a typical and normal eating habit of preschoolers. Emily frequently asks her parents if she can have a particular food, for example chocolate, one of her favorites. Television advertisement influences Emily’s knowledge about food, especially sweets, greatly. She sometimes says when watching TV “Mommy, can I have this when we go shopping again?” or “this is yummy, we have to buy some more, Susie ate it all”. However, Emily knows that limits exist in consuming sweets and fast food and that it is important to eat a healthy diet.

Cognitive development

Cognitive development is the child’s ability to learn from experiences and solve problems (Oesterreich, 1995). Piaget divided his Theory of Cognitive Development into four stages. A preschooler is considered to be in the second stage, called the preoperational stage (Kaplan, 1998). This stage is distinguished by the development of language and symbolic functioning. According to Piaget, preschool children’s language acquirement reflects their rising ability for representational thought (Kaplan, 1998).

However, the way, preschoolers think about the world is still primitive and they are not yet able to engage in true mental operations. A key feature in preschoolers thinking is that they can only focus on one part of a situation. Therefore, their thinking is centered, thus they concentrate on a single outstanding characteristic, e.g. height of an object, while excluding its other features (Leifer, 1999). For example, a preschooler believes that a tall, slender bottle of liquid has more content than a short, wide bottle with the same amount of liquid because the one bottle is taller than the other.

Emily’s mother was content to perform a test with Emily, which would demonstrate this theory. She measured 150 ml of lemonade and pored it into two differently shaped glasses. Then, she asked Emily which of the two glasses contains more lemonade. Emily stated that the tall glass contains more lemonade than the wide glass. Her older sister tried to explain to Emily that this is not correct; both glasses contain the same amount. Emily did not believe this statement and argued in an egocentric way that only her statement is true.

According to Piaget, a preschoolers thinking is self-centered or egocentric throughout the preoperational stage. It is difficult for a preschooler to understand life and all its mysteries from any other perspective than his or her own (Kaplan, 1998). Now, it is understandable why Emily acted egocentrically and argued with her older sister that the tall glass contains more lemonade. Emily has difficulty in seeing the world from someone else’s perspective.

Emily likes to help her mother with the laundry, particularly sorting out socks. According to Piaget, a preschooler should be able to classify items and sort them on the principle of “most often form”. Emily is able to sort the socks after color and those with pictures on them. When interacting with Emily, she was asked to place 6 stones in size order. She was capable of doing this with a little assistance from her sister. However, when a seventh stone was introduced into the “game”, Emily was not able to add it into the existing row of stones.

According to Piaget, preschoolers are not able to seriate objects in the preoperational stage, because they still have a lack of logic (Kaplan, 1998). Another characteristic of preoperational thought in preschool children is the ability of deferred imitation that allows children to engage in pretend games. Deferred imitation is the ability to represent an act that was observed previously (Kaplan, 1998). For example, a preschooler watched the teacher at school and at a later stage, e.g. at home, the child can imitate the teachers act.

The ability to use symbols is also very important for pretend play. A child in the preoperational stage is able to use a symbol to represent something else (Kaplan, 1998). Preschoolers are able to think symbolically but are not able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Emily likes to play with her toy china and cutlery. She pretends to pour tea into the cup and eat biscuits. She also finds great pleasure when playing with her dolls. Her favorite pretend play is “school”. She is the teacher and the dolls are the children. This is a classic form of pretend play. To perform such play, Emily needs to have the ability of deferred imitation, thus she watched the teacher in preschool and than pretends the teachers activities at home. She also pretends situations by transforming one symbol, the doll, into another nonexistent symbol, the child.

The aim of this case study is to discuss the growth and developmental stages of a normal five-year-old preschooler. Observations were made on the physical and motor and language development. Those observations were analyzed and compared with the theoretical development …

Motor skills learning is usually an active process interrelated with cognition (Derri & Pachta, 2007, p. 38). This means that the skill concept is one perspective of cognitive concept learning particularly in physical education; where the concern is the way …

Questions & Answers: 1. How is it evident that the planning reflects the pre-operational child’s needs? •Plan – it is important to have goals and objectives reflecting an understanding of child development. Planning involves the design of a DAILY SCHEDULE …

This research was based on the work of Jean Piaget and was influenced mainly by him, the aim of the research was to assess the differences in children’s cognitive development (thinking processes) at age ranges from 4-6, 7-8 and 9 …

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