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An Observation of Infants and Toddlers

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This observation took place at a day care facility that serves children 6 months old to 5 years of age. I focused my attention on the infant and toddlers area. There were three infants and 9 toddlers and 2 year-olds that were present at the time a total of twelve children. I arrived while they were having free indoor play so during their play time I observed some toddlers were more interested in the toys the infants had then the toys they had. One of the toddlers named Evan would frequently go to one of the infant rockers trying to climb in instead of playing with toys that were there for her. Two toddlers named Emma and Kristy both 2.5 years old were playing with baby dolls.

Kristy sat the doll in her lap and grabbed a book and pretended as though she was reading to the doll, While Emma was rocking and singing to her doll. In another corner, two 18 months old girls named Kaia and Katherine were pretending to cook and feed their baby dolls. As the other two 2 year old toddlers named Lily and Sonni dressed up their dolls and brushed their hair. The three infants named James, Jeannie and Gabby who are about 6 months to 8 months old were sitting in the same room on the other side of the carpet and playing with some colorful blocks with one of the teachers. Emma decided to go where James was at and teach him how to build with the blocks. She would put one block on top of the other while James handed her the blocks. Both Jeannie and Gabby also tried giving Emma their blocks too. With each other’s help they were able to build a tall tower of blocks. Emma clapped and the infants did too. In another section of the room I observed three toddler boys playing.

Their names are Hunter Ramone and Evan. One of the boys, Evan, had just turned three years old and the other two boys Hunter and Ramone were just two years old. The Evan wanted to lead and control the play. They were pretending to play superheros. They acted as if they could run really fast, fly or throw beams from their hands. Evan would make suggestions on what to play and the others would follow along. Also, when Hunter tried to leave and go to another area, the older toddler guided him with his own type of language back to the group. The last thing I observed before I left the facility was Gabby and a Lily playing and interacting with each other.

They were both playing with some sort of plush toys really enjoying and exploring them. They were making eye contact with one another, returning their smiles, making gestures, reaching to communicate with each other. When Gabby dropped her toy she was playing with, Lily picked it up and handed it to her and the Gabby nicely received it from her with a smile and they continued to play and explore with their toys. Next time I arrived at meal time to observe them. The teacher rang a bell for lunch time. Toddlers and infants were allowed to interact with each other during meal time. Infants were in their high chairs and toddlers were seated near them. The toddlers all sat down on their assigned seats. A teacher handed out their plates, cups, and spoons. The teacher gave Evan the napkins and he passed them out. For lunch it was mac n chesse Some waited patiently while others yelled or made noises demanding their food as one of the teachers served them. The infants were not patient. Jeannie and Gabby were crying and James was banging on his high table and making loud random noises to attract his teachers. The teacher arrived with their puree food. At the toddler table, the teacher read to them while they ate.

The other two teachers were helping feed the babies while singing to them. This calmed Jeannie and James. Gabby was still fussy. Evan and Emma finished their meals faster than the other children. They went over to the teacher and asked if they could help feed James and Gabby. The teacher took Gaby from the rocker and sat down at the carpet with Emma, She handed Emma a bottle. She then feed Gabby with the bottle, of course with adult supervision. They were both smiling and enjoying each other’s company. Emma was talking to Gabby. She said, “Eat up Gabby”. The other teacher then decided to get James off the high chair and sit with the Gabby and Emma so Evan can help feed James .As the teacher held James in her arms Evan feed him the bottle. Evan had this huge grin on his face. As the toddlers finished their meals and with the help of the teacher they put their dirty dishes, cups and spoons in a gray bin so it can be washed.

The teacher lined them up. They all sang songs on the way to the bathroom. They sang songs with their teacher about going potty and washing hands. One by one they went potty and washed their hands. Then they got ready for naptime. Sadly, my observation had ended.

As I was observing them, I thought about a few psychological theories and theorists that showed how play and interactions played such an important role in a child’s development. Piaget’s cognitive-developmental theory, Erickson’s psychosocial theory, Freud’s psychosexual and Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and Ivan Pavlov’ learning theory made significant contributions for understanding the relationship between social interations through play and their development Piaget, Erikson and Vygotsky all agree that the child uses play for self teaching. The child plays through situations very much like an adult thinks through a situation. Like Piaget, Vygotsky believed that biological and social factors interacted in the development and that children were active in constructing their own understanding of the world.( Frank Manis,2016) Vygotsky proposed that most aspects of cognitive development take in place in a social context, with adults acting as intelligent guides who anticipate what the child needs to learn as well as provide culturally specific methods of learning.(Frank Manis 2016)While Erikson maintained there is a relationship between play and society.

Play permits children to learn about their social world and to try out new social skills. Moreover, play for Erikson, like Piaget, play promotes a child who is socially competent. Therefore, every child needs play as this greatly contributes to their physical, social, and emotional well-being. For example, even as early as infancy, play fosters physical development by promoting the development of sensory exploration and motor skills. Through play and the repetition of basic physical skills, children perfect their abilities and become competent at increasingly difficult physical tasks. Play fosters mental development and new ways of thinking and problem solving. For example, through block play, the Emma, Jeannie, James and Gabby were confronted with many mental challenges having to do with measurement, equality, balance, shape, spatial relationships. In addition, through imaginative play helped Kristy, Emma, Sonni Lilly, Katherine and Kaia develop their unique perspective and individual style of creative expression. In Freud’s theory, he believed that their problems came from unconscious psychological conflicts originating in childhood.(Frank Manis ,2016) I once read that Freud described play as a child’s mechanism for repeatedly working out a previously experienced traumatic event in a effort to correct or master the event to his satisfaction.

While seeing them follow certain routines or behaviors in meal, play and bathroom time, I thought of Erickson in how he felt the need for independence must be balanced by the parent’s or caregiver need to help the child learn socially appropriate behavior and routines.(Frank Manis, 2017)In learning theories, the key assumption behind learning theories is that much of child behavior is acquired through the continuous pairing of the child’s responses to stimuli in the environment.(Frank Manis,2017)For example, as the children heard the bell and were seated and given their cups or plates they knew it was lunch time. Even with the absence of food they knew that lunch was coming. Some children even yelled cried or made noises for their food .Food is the stimulus and the crying yelling is the response. During my time there I also watched the children use their fine and gross motor skills like sitting rolling grasping and reaching for things. Plus, their major milestones in their cognitive and language development according to their age such as their attention, and memory and their use of sounds or words or sentences due to their social interactions and communication with each other.

I also percieved in my observation, how important their interactions is for their learning. Their peers contributed substantially to each other’s intellectual and social emotional development. Their interactions also provided the context for them acquiring social communication and cooperation. It also provided a bond that is essential for their social and emotional well being. Furthermore, I was so amazed to see the interactions between the two age groups. Both groups seem to really get along with each other. They liked helping each other at meal and play time. In observing the environment alone, it made it conducive for the positive interactions between the infants and toddlers. The classroom space for their infants and toddlers provided opportunities for the younger and older children to interact with each other. It was possible for them to see each other at all times I think through their interactions and play, the infants will learn certain behaviors from the older children, like feeding themselves, talking, playing, etc. Things that will possible make transitioning stages from infant to toddler easier as well as making the transition from toddler to preschool easier.

Allowing the toddlers to assist with things such as feeding the infants and playing with them, and in their mind helping them, allows the toddlers to have a since of maturity and independence and not scared and dependent on others do everything for them. The infants responded positive to the toddlers when interacting with one another. The 2-year olds’ were definitely showing strong interest in the infants and their well being. The children imitated the interactions they observed between each other in the classroom. In their interactions, I saw how the toddlers were handling their dolls was much the same as adults used in caring for them with so much care They were making eye contact with one another, returning their smiles, making gestures, reaching to communicate with each other. They responded with acceptance and trust I believe the environment allows them to be caring and a positive support for one another. The teachers kept them engaged by singing reading playing and talking to them. These activities strengthen the bond between each other. They boosted their learning potential simply by providing such a nurturing and well rounded environment. These connections and tools help build their language, literacy, and social–emotional skills in each of their development. In conclusion, I really learned a lot and enjoyed the time I spent at the daycare facility.

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