Child Psychology PSYC 233
Child Observation Paper Assignment
The goal of this assignment is to observe and interact with a child between 3 and 11 years old. Use your observation of, and interaction with, the child to demonstrate your knowledge of child psychology in a written report. Your report should summarize your observations of the child and apply developmental norms, psychological concepts, and theories to those observations.
You will need to spend a minimum of 3 – 5 hours with the child to get a sufficient perspective of his/her development. You may need to do multiple observations of the child depending upon his/her developmental level, attention span, and degree of cooperation. The primary focus of your report is your observations of the child, not prior knowledge of the child or information obtained from others.
Do not use your own child or a child for whom you are a primary caregiver because your observations and interpretations of behavior may be biased.
An outline of the recommended topic areas to be included in your report appears below. You do not need to address every issue; the list is a guideline of topics that may be appropriate depending on the age and developmental level of the child. If there are topics listed on the outline that are not relevant to the child you are writing about, do not include them. For example, there is no need to address the topic of puberty if the child you are observing is 4-years old (unless, of course, they are showing signs of puberty, which would be very unusual developmentally). One of the evaluation criteria for your paper is the relevance of your observations. Based on what you have learned during the semester you should be able to determine what topics are relevant and should be included and what topics are not relevant. Keep in mind that there will be topics that are relevant to your child that may not appear in the three textbook chapters devoted to the child’s age range. For example, errors in vocabulary such as overextension and underextension are discussed in Chapter 6 (Cognitive Development in Infancy) but these types of errors could still occur in the language of young children.
You must demonstrate that you understand the developmental norms, concepts and theories covered in this course. Relate the child’s development to the norms, stages and concepts from your text that are relevant. In your paper you should identify what skills the child should have, based on information presented in the text, and what skills the child actually has, based on your observations. Don’t assume I know the norms; demonstrate that YOU know the norms by including them and comparing the child’s development to them.
All content from your text or any other source MUST be appropriately paraphrased (refer to your syllabus and read the Guidelines for Paraphrasing Appropriately). Any assignment that contains content that is not appropriately paraphrased will receive no credit.
If you use any source other than your textbook and an online growth calculator you must include a references page (any style is acceptable) at the end of your paper.
Describe the child’s behavior, interpret the child’s developmental level, and then indicate how you came to the conclusions that you did using specific and relevant information from the text. All statements should be supported by explanations and evidence.
If you are interested in looking over an example paper please contact me and we can arrange a time for you to come by my office. Example papers are not available on Bb or electronically.
A thorough observation paper will be 8-10 pages long. The paper is worth 200 points.. Your paper should be written in paragraph form (not as a series of bulleted points). It must be double-spaced with your name at the top (a title page is not necessary). Use a standard font style, color and size (12 pt).
1. Demographics of the Child
• Child’s first name, age and birth date. To protect the identity of the child/family, please include first names only.
• Family Status – Parent’s Relationship (i.e. married, separated, divorced, never married, same-sex couple, etc.)
• Siblings and ages of siblings in and out of the home
• Other family members present in the home
• Child’s and parents’ race
• Day care or school status
2. Physical Development
• Height and Weight – How does the child compare to developmental norms? What percentile is the child’s height and weight compared to other same age children? Use one of the growth percentile calculators available on the internet to calculate the child’s height and weight percentiles (you do not need to provide a reference or citation for the growth calculator IF it is the only outside source of information included in your paper). Search for terms like ―growth percentiles‖ or ―child growth calculator‖ to find a site. Please also include and discuss any other relevant information regarding the child’s height or weight.
• Dental health, eating/nutrition, sleeping-Compare these areas, if relevant, to the norms for the child’s age.
• Gross Motor Skills-How do the child’s gross motor skills compare to norms for his/her age (i.e. walking, running, kicking, jumping, pedaling, climbing, throwing, catching, etc.)?
• Fine Motor Skills-How do the child’s fine motor skills compare to norms for his/her age (i.e. zippers, buttons, drawing, cutting, coloring, handedness, printing, cursive writing, etc.)?
• Is the child meeting the norms in physical development? Why or why not?
• Does the child experience any physical limitations due to a disease, disorder or injury? If so, describe.
• Indications of puberty? If so, describe and compare to norms.
• Any other comments on physical development?
3. Cognitive Development
• What stage of Piaget’s theory does the child demonstrate and is it the expected stage for the child’s age? To adequately address this topic you MUST test the child using some of the techniques presented in the text and in the materials provided on the course website.
• What principles or concepts does the child demonstrate in regard to Piaget’s theory? How did you evaluate this?
Egocentrism Spatial reasoning
Inductive logic Classification
Animistic thinking Seriation
Conservation Transitive inference
• Observations related to information processing theory (i.e. attention, memory, problem solving, theory of mind)?
• Describe the aspects of Vygotsky’s theory you observed?
Zone of proximal development
• Language Development-Describe the child’s language skills and compare to the norms? For example:
o Vocabulary-Provide an example of the child’s spoken language.
o Evidence of fast mapping? Overregularization?
• Phonological awareness, early literacy, reading and math development?
• Does the child experience any cognitive limitations due to a disease, disorder or injury?
• Is the child’s cognitive development consistent with your expectations based on your knowledge of child psychology?
• Any other comments about cognitive development
4. Emotional and Social Development-identify the relevant topics regarding social and emotional development and include them in your report.
• Erikson’s Theory – Based on the observed behavior, where would you place the child according to Erikson’s theory? Provide evidence to support your conclusion.
• Freud’s Theory – Where should the child be according to Freud’s theory? Is there any evidence in the child’s behavior that supports the theory?
• Self Concept, Self Esteem, Self conscious emotions– How would you describe these? Describe the information or observations you used to draw these conclusions? Are your observations consistent with what is typical for the child’s age?
• Empathy/Prosocial behavior —Evidence or examples?
• Peer relations/peer acceptance-What kind of relationships does the child have with peers? How would you describe the child’s peer status using the information in the text? Describe the evidence that supports your conclusion. Is the child’s status similar or different to what is typical for the child’s age and sex?
• Types of Play – What types of play does the child engage in based on Mildred Parten’s categories? Describe the evidence you used to make this determination.
• Moral Development – What is the child’s level of moral reasoning based on Piaget’s research and/or Kohlberg’s theory? How did you determine this?
• Emotional Regulation/Self-regulation—How does the child compare to norms in this area? Based on what evidence?
• Types of Aggression-What, if any, types of aggression did you observe?
• Gender– Does the child have gender stereotyped game and toy preferences? How is gender being reinforced in the home? Does the child have a sense of his/her gender identity, constancy and stability?
• Child-rearing Style – What parenting style is used based on Baumrind’s classification system and how does it affect the child? Provide evidence or examples to support your conclusion. According to the textbook, what are the long-term outcomes for the child based on the parenting style?
• Family structure-Are there any effects of divorce, remarriage, single parenting, step parenting or other family factors? What are the potential benefits or risks of the child’s family structure?
• Any other comments about psychosocial development
5. Other Items
• In this section, you can include anything that you think is important that has not been previously addressed.
• You can include items from your observation and/or a picture of the child.
The child I chose is a girl named Kimberly but they call her Kimmie. She is 5 years old and was born on September 3, 2005. She weighs 36 pounds and is 39 inches tall. Her parents are Tara and Ron and they have been married for 17 years. Kimmie has one sister who is 16 years old. Kimmie and her family are Caucasian. Kimmie will be starting the 1st grade in the fall at Eunice Smith Elementary School.
Please let me know if you need anything else.