Children’s Development, Health and Well-being Introduction The early years of children are crucial to their physical, mental, emotional, and social development. During these years, their development unfolds and progresses at a very fast with developmental milestones being reached within a few months and a few short years…
This paper will now discuss the different ways by which children develop in their early years and primary settings, with specific focus on their health and wellbeing. First, a discussion on the developmental needs and conditions of children in their primary school years would be presented, followed by a discussion on the theories and key educational initiatives and how these impact on children’s development. Legislation pertinent to the topic will then be discussed, including the key elements which impact on children’s development, health and well-being. Legislation relevant to schools and children will also be made part of this discussion as a means of understanding the connections between policy and classroom practice. Body During the primary years, learners are highly energetic and highly engaged in physical activity. They are also entering a period of experimentation with various possible identities (Fabian and Dunlop, 2002). They explore themselves and their relationship and similarities to their peers, including the differences between the male and female gender. They are also able to participate enthusiastically in various activities, as well as to expand their mental development in ways which may be considered reflective (Fabian and Dunlop, 2002). These learners have needs which relate to the application of complicated, dynamic, interactive and cyclical activities. The learning process for these children would have to call for them to elaborate, reformulate, and reflect upon their knowledge and values (Fabian and Dunlop, 2002). In other words, they have to be supported on how their develop responsibility for their learning. The years following conception until birth to the first eight years of the child’s life are crucial to their complete and healthy mental, emotional, and physical growth (Robinson, 2007). Their brain’s rapid development often starts as early as the prenatal stage and continues until after the child’s birth. The cell formation of the child is often already complete before their birth with a newborn infant having about 100 billion brain cells (Robinson, 2007). Their brain maturation as well as the development of their neural pathways is however continued after birth until their early childhood. In effect, early childhood is a time where the environment also has a crucial role to play in determining the eventual direction of the child’s development. The environment impacts on the number of brain cells and connections made, but also how these connections would be wired (Waller, 2009). The goal of removing excess neurons and synapses from the immature brain is a process which goes on until the child’s adolescence, but is especially dramatic during the child’s early years (Waller, 2009). This process is also guided to a significant extent by how the child is experiencing the outside world. According to different studies, if the brain does not gain enough stimulation during this critical period, it would be very difficult for the brain to later rewire itself at a later time (MacIntyre, 2007). Poor nutrition before birth and in the first years of the child’s life can also seriously impact on brain development and cause neurological and behavioural issues including learning disabilities and mental retardation (MacIntyre, 2007). ...
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