Development through life stages - describe physical, intellectual, emotional and social development through the life stages

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Elizabeth Hathaway                                                                                                    17/05/2010

Unit 4: Development through life stages


Conception and Birth

Each month a fertile woman produces an egg from one of her two ovaries, which lie on each side of the uterus (womb). The egg is released, and travels down to the fallopian tube. The egg then travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus. Male semen contains several million sperm, but only one will be needed for conception, and that single sperm cell contains the father’s genetic contribution to the baby. Each sperm contains 23 chromosomes and each egg contains 23 chromosomes. The sperm can swim, and need to be able to do so as they have to move through the cervix, into the uterus and along the fallopian tubes. During sexual intercourse millions of sperm are ejaculated by a man. The sperm swims through the uterus and fertilises the egg in the fallopian tube. The sperm and egg combine to form a ball of cells. At one to one and half days the egg starts to divide, the collection of the cells is called an embryo. At 3 weeks after fertilisation, the embryo grows to be 0.5cm long and starts to develop brain, eyes, ears and limbs. The embryo continues to develop and grow until at week 8 all major organs have formed and has a recognisable heartbeat and there is a human looking face with recognisable features. The embryo is now around 3 – 4 cm long and is now called a foetus. Growth and development of the foetus continues and at 20 weeks the foetus is half the length of a baby at birth and about half of its birth weight. At 9 months (40 weeks) the foetus is ready to be born it is around 50cm long and weighs around 3.5kg, so at 9 months fully formed the baby is born.

Infancy 0 – 3 years

Physical development

From 0 – 3 years young children learn to use their bodies by learning to use gross motor skills such as crawling, walking, head control and sitting. Children develop at their own speed and pace. By around the age of two months infants' backs continue to strengthen, and they are able to raise their head and chest up off the ground and rest their body on their elbows when they're lying on their stomachs. Around this time they will also be able to bend and kick their legs. Infants continue to strengthen their muscles and improve control of their bodies while they grow. At the age of 4 months, they can maintain control of their head and hold it steady while they're sitting up with help or lying on their belly. By 6months most babies can sit up by themselves for brief periods and can put some weight on their legs when they are held up with some support, they may be able to crawl at 7 months. Infants continue to build on their physical abilities and by around 10 months they can stand on their own for longer periods. They make progress towards walking, they pick up and put down their feet while they stand, they should begin to make their own first toddling steps around the age of 12 months. Further on in a toddlers development, they continue to become more mobile and agile, they begin to climb stairs, high chairs and furniture. At the ages 2 – 3 toddlers begin to develop complex gross motor skills such as kicking and throwing objects for distance. They continue to refine and become more fluid in their movements, at the end of the second year they can run and walk from one place to another they are very mobile.

Intellectual Development

Babies not only grow physically during the first three years of their life, but also cognitively (mentally). Infants babble and gurgle, they study their hands and feet, they focus on following objects with their eyes and they turn to locate the source of sounds. Infants explore things with their mouths and they cry in different ways to express their needs for hunger, anger and pain. Infants respond to simple directions and look for things not in sight. By 12 months most young infants speak their first understandable words. Toddlers point to objects they want, they name familiar people and faces, and they are curious and use the word “NO” frequently. Toddler’s attention span is short and they combine two words to form a basic sentence. From 2 – 3 years young children start to express their feelings and wishes, they follow simple directions and still have a limited attention span. They have trouble making choices but want to make choices and begin to think about doing things before doing it. From 3 years they can communicate their needs, ideas and questions. According to Piaget in, “infants interact with the environment through reflexive behaviours. Young infants do not think about what they are going to do, but rather follow their instincts and involuntary reactions to get what they need: food, air, and attention.” Piaget believes as young children begin to grow and develop they learn about their environment through their senses and they then begin to start engaging in intentional, goal directed behaviours.

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Emotional and Social Development

Babies have a wide range of emotions, it’s the only way it has before learning to speak to communicate its needs. Their social development also develops from an early age, infants learn to recognise their parent’s facial expressions and voices and in turn parents learn to understand what their infant is trying to get across by smiling, screaming or crying. Infants need plenty of care and attention; a baby that has all of needs fulfilled by its parents will develop a bond of attachment and trust with them and will be more likely to grow ...

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