Throughout our lifespan we are constantly undergoing developmental changes. Similar to the infant and toddler stages of development, the early childhood stage is a time of new growth and learning both physically and mentally. Early childhood occurs between the ages of 2 and 6 and is also known as the “preschool years”. This paper focuses on the early childhood stage of development and the cognitive, physical, social, emotional, moral, and spiritual changes that children go through at this time.
In order to better understand how developmental changes occur, we need to understand how the brain of the child is growing in this developmental stage. “Between the ages of 2 and 6, the brain increases from 70 percent of its adult weight to 90 percent.” (Berk, 2010) By the time a child reaches the age of 3 or 4 years old, their brain has produced a large number of neuron connections called synapses. These connections support more complex abilities. “This allows preschoolers to improve in a wide variety of skills-physical coordination, perception, attention, memory, language, logical thinking, and imagination.” (Berk, 2010) When the brain does not use these connections, they undergo a process called pruning where they are eliminated and the brains plasticity is reduced.
The brain is composed of two hemispheres; the left and the right. The left hemisphere focuses on speaking, reading, thinking, and reasoning. While the right hemisphere focuses on spatial reasoning, art, music, and emotions. During this time period the brain also continues to lateralize. Lateralization is “the specialization of brain functions so that one hemisphere becomes more involved than the other in certain functions.” (Lefrançois, 2001) During the preschool years, lateralization primarily focuses on handedness. Handedness is simply hand preference, meaning what hand the child uses to do daily functions such as; writing, eating, coloring, or throwing a...