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A reflection of child observation and development theories. This will compare the various child development theories as proposed by the various theorists, it will link the theories to the Child that was observed who is  aged three and within a child minding setting. The observation has been made over six hours in the course of six days. I planned and executed the observation on the child on six occasions which were different to each other in terms of time and the adult individuals’ presence. It will be looking critically at what was observed and learnt with particular reference to the cognitive, social, emotional, physical and language development of the child  which is relevant to the social work practice, reflection on the observation of the child, anti-oppressive practices and child development.

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 For the purpose of maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the relevant legislations of the profession, the child will be named under the pseudonym of Derby.

Derby is a three-year-old girl who is a white British and lives with her parents. She is currently the only child but Mum is expecting.  Her parents work full time, she is at  nursery 3 days and  child minder 2 times a week full time. The child minder offers a wide range of activities, has people of various ethnic and cultural background while also encouraging free play.


The observation was done within a child minder context. I observed the child of a family who is living in a rented home with working class parents. Observation was made during the childminding hours in the presence of the child minders with consent from the parents of the child. I made contact with the parents of the child on 10th November 2017 evening to explain the purpose of the observation and I was referred to the child minder as they stated it was the most convenient time and place for the observation to be done. They were voluntary but still wanted the observation with the child minder. The room was filled with, books, toys, computer, sand, well designed dining area, paint, aprons and dressing up clothes and clutter of noise and emotions.


During the observation, I applied theories to the observation which was the attachment theory and cognitive development theory. Piaget believes that children go through specific stages according to their intellect and ability to perceive mature relationships. Piaget theory started out by two main concepts, accommodation, and assimilation.

He proposed that cognitive development happens in four stages, (0 to 2 years) being the sensori motor, (2 to 7 years) the preoperational period, (7 to 12 years) the concrete operational period, and 12 years and above the formal operations period. (Beckett and Taylor 2010). From Piagets theory it would be seen that Derby is at the preoperational period as she is aged 3.

According to Crawford and Walker (2008), Piaget states that in the preoperational stages, children are yet to understand the ability to apprehend, offer judgment, inference or think actions through. He is of the view that children at this stage are guided by an egocentric thinking by showing difficulty in seeing things from a point of view other than their own. They also engage in third person, very curious and want to learn and would so often ask “why”. During my observation, this was evidenced by Derby on several occasions and the other children during free play. It is also of note to me that Piaget’s theory are not fixed and concrete in any child as Derby seemed to be acting and had more a developed cognition than what will be expected of her age. (Appendix 4 & 5).

Piaget believes that children build their understanding of the world through activities and interaction with others. During the observations, a child aged 1 year fell and started crying, Derby was quick to give a cuddle and offer some comforting words and peck to the child, thou I didn’t hear much of what she said, but the child soon after stopped crying, she showed an understanding that a child needs to be comforted and cuddled to stop crying and become happy again. (Appendix 3).

However, Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), study on cognitive growth did not see children as individual explorers of knowledge, but he saw them as learners from social interactions. Derby falls within his two levels of cognitive development which are her actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and secondly her level of potential development as determined by the kind of problem solving she can do under adult guidance or playing with more capable peers.

Piaget and Vygotsky agreed that children build their knowledge through experiences. This was well evidenced in Derby as she was very compassionate and her cognition level was higher than what I did expect of a child of her age, I was having memories of how my son who is of same age does behave and he does nothing close to what Derby did, thou Piaget’s concept have been criticised of denying other aspects of thinking such as intuition and creativity and for not examining and explaining individual differences in children. This was evidenced by Derby during the observation as she was the only English person in the setting, I noticed she was always quick to cuddle the little children each time they felt anxious and cried while other kids just sat and watched. Vygotsky’s theory draws attention to the role of social and culture interaction and identifies the principle of scaffolding in the children’s learning.