Defining Early Development
For the purposes of this site, early development refers to the growth process of infants & children up to age 8…
Models of Early Development
Just as in gardening, where there are different schools of thought related to the science & experience of growth, early education offers different philosophies. These philosophies often highlight or combine various models of child development. Two of the most well-known models of development are those by Piaget & Vygotsky.
For the most up-to-date information on development in the first three years, visit Zero to Three.
Distinct from Personality Development
We never stop developing, but our rate of development changes. Children are like sponges, everything around them is new & they soak up learning. Cognitively, emotionally, socially, physically, linguistically, they grow.
While both children & adults may communicate varying levels of learning appreciation, their experience often determines their perspective. Topics may also impact learning perspective.
Personality, on the other hand, forms as a combination of nature & nurture. Children are born with unique genes, have different caregivers (who also have unique personalities) & different early experiences. As they are learning, personality begins to emerge.
Both models of child development & models of personality can help support caregivers as they seek to understand & support children.
A Short Anecdote about the Role of a Early Childhood Caregiver
Written by a daycare worker…
A two-year-old once told me that I made the sun.
and completely untrue!
at least in my reality,
but from her perspective, it made sense.
Developmentally, she didn’t understand what she was saying…
As her caregiver, I did provide much of what she needed throughout the day.
So when someone asked “Who made the sun?”
She contemplated the possibilities, then pointed to me & replied: Judy!!
And a little scary, actually.
Caregiving is a weighty responsibility often with more mundane moments than appreciation.
The story above emphasizes the impact that early connections can have, as well as the inherent vulnerability. Part of our role as caregivers is to protect & to nurture early growth. As with a tomato seedling or a business start-up, more nurture & protection is needed initially, and thus, during these early stages there is potentially greater impact & longer-lasting effects than at any later time.