Pre-School Development Case Study

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As part of a comprehensive pre-school curriculum, early childhood educators integrate activities that enable a student to acquire skills in core developmental areas. Through activities ranging from group games to individual projects, children have the opportunity to strengthen their social, cognitive, and verbal skills during the school day. This case study will examine how preschool activities can strengthen the language and literacy skills of students at the pre-school level. The subject of this case, a boy designated the abbreviated name of H, comes from a low-income Hispanic family and demonstrates shyness that is primarily the result of his limited English-language abilities. This report will examine the weaknesses and deficiencies that H possesses in each of the six domains of childhood development while utilizing these findings to determine how the application of classroom techniques that can be used to address deficiencies in written and verbal skills at the pre-school level.

Description of the Child

This assessment will observe a pre-school-aged boy named H. The subject of my observations is 4.5 years old and is Hispanic. H’s personality type can be described as shy. He is very quiet and prefers to engage in limited verbal conversation. His family is low-income and consists of his mom, dad, and three older sisters who are 17, 14, and 10 years of age. In addition to these basic characteristics, H is well behaved and exhibits strong manners. He also appears to have a positive relationship with the other members of his family. Further, his family appears to be invested in his well being and helping him adjust to his school environment.

The classroom for this observation is a pre-kindergarten setting that caters to ages between 4 and 5 years. There were two adults in the classroom, including myself. The adult to child ratio was relatively low. In total, there were only 8 pre-kindergarten children in the classroom. Further, the children each had been exposed to a school setting for 6 months. As one of the two teachers in the classroom, I was H’s teacher, and thus had a direct role in instructing him and interacting with him during this assessment.

Assessing the Child’s Development

This assessment will evaluate H’s development in six domains: 1) Personal and Social Development, 2) Language and Literacy, 3) Mathematical Thinking, 4) Scientific Thinking, 5) Social Studies, and 6) Physical Development and Health. Data collected through observation will be utilized to evaluate H’s level of proficiency in each of these areas.

The first domain that will be assessed is Personal and Social Development. By definition, this domain addresses the emotional and social competence exhibited by the student and assesses the student’s sense of responsibility to themselves and others, their feelings regarding themselves, and their view of themselves as learners (Personal and Social Development, 2014, p. 1). H demonstrates a medium level of proficiency is personal and social development. In the area of self-concept, H is in the process of building self-confidence. This can be evidenced by the comments in the observational notes that describe H willingly taking part in group activities yet refraining from asserting his needs among peers during outdoor play. Yet, while H is in the process of building self-concept, he displays a high degree of self-control. H follows classroom rules and procedures with little direction and is the first to get into line in order to continue on to a new task during the school day. Thus, overall, H possesses the social and emotional competence that is necessary to perform with little guidance in the school environment.

The second domain that will be assessed is Language and Literacy. By definition, this domain assesses both the language and literacy skills that a student needs to convey meaning through listening, speaking, reading, writing, and research (Language and Literacy, 2014, p. 1). In this area, H is making progress. By reading with his mother during morning arrival, H demonstrates an interest in reading and comfort in expressing himself verbally. However, H is only able to express simple phrases and expressions in the English language and remains quiet when among his peers. Because H is most deficient in this area, it will be visited upon further in the case study. However, the observational notes demonstrate that H needs additional help meeting the standards in this area.

The third domain that will be assessed is Mathematical Thinking. By definition, this domain addresses the approach that the student takes to mathematical thinking and problem solving, which is assesses the manner in which students perceive, understand, and solve mathematical problems (Mathematical Thinking, 2014, p. 1). An important distinction to make is that at the pre-school level, mathematics is primarily concerned with the recognition of patterns and the ability to find solutions to problems. Overall, H is in the process of becoming proficient in mathematical thinking. While H prefers games that are mathematically oriented during his free time periods, he appears to struggle with mathematical thinking. For example, when H played with blocks during his free period, he was only able to build the blocks three levels high. After this point, he responded to the limitations by starting his building from the start and building the blocks in a different way. Further, H struggled to keep his place in the counting game, demonstrating his ability to remember how to count between 1 and 10 and make associations between these numbers. Thus, H must continue to work to reach proficiency in his mathematical thinking skills.

The fourth domain that will be assessed is Scientific Thinking. By definition, this domain addresses the approach that the student takes to engaging in scientific investigation to investigate, observe, and record explanations and draw conclusions (Scientific Thinking, 2014, p. 1). Overall, H is proficient in his ability to engage in a scientific investigation. When H plays with blocks, he demonstrates curiosity to discover why his construction is not remaining stable. Further, he compares his building to the buildings of other children at the table in order to discover how their buildings differ from his. Thus, H possesses the skills of inquiry that are needed to adequately explore and investigate the physical world.

The fifth domain that will be assessed is Social Studies. By definition, this domain determines how children draw from their personal experiences and the experiences of others to understand wider social topics (Social Studies, 2014, p. 1). H demonstrates a high degree of proficiency in this area. First, through his close interactions with his family, he exhibits a high degree of human interdependence. He is additionally interested in the families of his classmates and asked questions about their families during breakfast. Second, H is very mindful of class rules and makes sure to follow instructions that are given to him by the teacher. Thus, H displays a high degree of citizenship and an overall satisfactory level of development in social studies.

The sixth domain that will be assessed is Physical Development and Health. By definition, this domain determines how children develop and exercise gross motor development and obtain habits that contribute to their personal health and safety (Physical Development and Health, 2014, p. 1). Overall, H is proficient in his display of physical development and health. Through his recess activity of kickball, H demonstrates the ability to move with balance and control while coordinating his movements to perform simple tasks. While H struggles with some fine motor development skills, such as drawing and writing, he is generally able to perform broad tasks, such as painting and creating other art projects that involve basic movements. Finally, in the sub-area of personal health and safety, H performs proficiently. As the observational notes reflect, H washes his hands and engages in sanitary practices without instruction from his teachers. Thus, overall, H performs satisfactorily in this domain.

The area that will be examined for further focus is Language and Literacy. As revealed through a prior discussion with H’s mother, the primary language spoken in H’s home is Spanish. While his mother is proficient in English, his father speaks Spanish and his sisters prefer to speak Spanish in the home. Thus, this domain presents the biggest challenge for H and warrants additional attention. The four areas for evaluation under this domain are: 1) listening, 2) speaking, 3) reading, and 4) writing. Each of these four areas will be evaluated in assessing H’s development.

The first sub-area of language and literacy is listening. Students demonstrate proficiency in listening when they gain meaning through listening, are able to follow two- or three-step directions through listening, or demonstrate phonological awareness (Language and literacy, 2014, p. 1). As the observational notes in Appendix A convey, H demonstrates proficient listening skills. Evidencing that H gains meaning through listening, he is able to follow instructions for group activities, such as the game Red Light, Green Light. Further, he demonstrated his understanding of the meaning of vocabulary by choosing to use the red light command to stop his classmates during the game. Thus, H performs satisfactorily in the area of listening.

The second sub-area of language and literacy is speaking. This area includes the ability to speak clearly without contextual clues and the ability to use expanded vocabulary and language. In speaking with his classmates during breakfast and his mother, H demonstrated that he can speak clearly and be understood by different listeners. However, he lacked the ability to utilize an expanded vocabulary. When he asked Ms. J for assistance with his blocks during the Free Time activity, he was limited in his choice of questioning. Further, during the story activity, he demonstrated a lack of confidence in expressing a story using vocabulary. Thus, H has not yet reached proficiency in speaking.

The third sub-area of language and literacy is reading. In the observational notes, H demonstrates his proficiency in reading during morning arrival. When he was in the company of his mother, he comfortably selected a book to read with his mother. It was clear from his expression that he enjoyed the activity of reading. Further, he was able to read his story to his classmates out loud though his vocabulary was simplistic and he was unable to speak confidently throughout his presentation. H clearly understands concepts about print and is proficient in reading.

The fourth sub-area of language and literacy is writing. As evidenced through the observations, H struggles in writing. During the story activity, H struggled to represent his story ideas through picture. Further, once he developed an idea, he struggled to write words that described the story. Additionally, he did not seem to understand the connection between writing words and conveying the action or ideas that were taking place in his story. Of all the areas of language and literacy, H has the greatest room for improvement in writing.

In total, it can be assessed that H is in the process of improving these areas of language development. Because H’s household is multilingual and family members with varying levels of English-speaking abilities surround him, he is able to understand and converse in the English language. However, because Spanish is the primary language communicated in his home, he is less confident in his English language abilities. Further, while H possesses proficient listening abilities, he is not yet proficient in using expanded vocabulary for a variety of purposes and representing ideas through stories. Thus, the second part of this assessment will focus on curriculum strategies that can be utilized to enhance speaking and reading abilities in pre-school children.

The author is a pre-school teacher who works with pre-school children between the ages of 4 and 5. This observation takes place in the classroom of the author. The subject of this observation is a boy named H who is 4.5 years old. The class is conducted by two teachers, the author and a second teacher named Ms. J. This section includes three sets of observational notes that document H’s activities during a three-day period.

Day 1

2/22/14, Morning arrival

H and his mother walk into the room holding hands. H walks to the library area. Mother: “H, let’s read a book before I leave today.” Ms. J joins them in the library area and suggests that H. selects the book. H walks to the bookshelf, smiles at the mother, turns back to the shelf, takes Corduroy off the shelf, walks back to the mother, smiles. H sits on mother’s lap as they look through the book. They finish reading and H returns the book to the shelf. The mother says, “O.K., H, it is time for me to go work now.” Ms. J walk over to H; ask “would you like to walk mommy to the door, or would you like to wave to him from the window? H goes to the door, and the three of them walk to the door. Mom bends down; H opens his arms to give her a hug; says, “Bye-bye.”

2/22/14, Breakfast

Ms. J leads the preschoolers to the cafeteria area and the children walk in a single filed line. H promptly finds his place in line, which is decided by the alphabetical order of his last name. The children each sit down at the tables taking the first open seat available and filling the tables from left to right. The breakfast, cereal and orange juice, is already placed at the tables. H takes small sips of his orange juice as the children around him talk loudly. He remains mostly quiet for the remainder of breakfast. H asks the boy across from him what his mother makes him for breakfast. The boy answers, and H smiles. After breakfast, H walks over to the sink to wash his hands. He is able to properly use the soap in order to maintain cleanliness.

Day 2

2/23/14, Group Activity

The children enter the classroom for a prepared group activity. Today, the children play a game of Red Light, Green Light. In the game, one child acts as a stoplight and stands at one end of the room while the other children stay at the other end. The children move towards the stoplight, but they must walk at the pace that is called out by the stoplight. Ms. J and the author explain the rules for the game and demonstrate so that the students understand what to do. A preschooler named V volunteers to start as the stoplight by raising his hand. H appears to enjoy the game. He smiles when V calls “red light,” forcing all of the children to stop. When it is H’s turn to become the stoplight, he smiles as he calls “red light,” and enjoys calling this out just as he gives students permission to move quickly. When trying to walk backwards for a “purple light” call, H trips slightly but regains control. He continues to play the game.

2/23/14, Outdoor Play

The children stand in line to be led to the playground area. H quickly finds his place in line and is the first to arrive at the wall to line up. When the children reach the playground area, they have a choice of playing on the slides, playing with bubbles, or playing with rubber kick balls. H and three of his friends take a rubber kickball to an area of grass behind the slides. A boy named T is playing too aggressively and kicking the ball high above H’s head so that he cannot reach it. H appears to be frustrated that T is kicking the ball so that he cannot reach it but stays quiet. T is 5 years old and bigger than H. Ms. J steps in and tells T to give everyone a chance to kick the ball. T kicks the ball softer and H is able to return his kicks. The kids play with the kickball until recess is over.

Day 3

2/24/14, Free Time

The children re-enter the classroom. Ms. J opens a cabin that contains toys and games and instructs the students to choose an activity. H is hesitant to move in front of the other children but chooses to play with building blocks. He takes a bucket of blocks and moves to an open table. T approaches the table and takes some blocks. H tries to balance the blocks one on top of the other, but they soon fall after he stacks five in a row. He tries again to balance the blocks in the same order, yet they still fall. He sees Ms. J and asks: “Why can’t I make them stay?” Ms. J: “You have to build a base. Put five blocks down and then put four on top, like a pyramid.” H looks at T’s block building and sees that T is following Ms. J’s advice. H builds a base with three blocks but then tries to stack three blocks at the top of the pyramid. They fall over and he has to start over again. H keeps trying to build a bigger tower until free time is over.

2/24/14, Indoor Activity

The children are asked to write and illustrate a short story on drawing paper. While the other students busily draw, H is reluctant. Ms. J: “What’s the matter H?” H is quiet and looks up at Ms. J. He picks up a crayon and tries to draw a figure of a house on the paper. When the activity is over, H draws a picture of a house, but he does not write any words. In comparison, his classmates caption their pictures with simple words to show the action that is being drawn. H looks at his classmate’s drawings and seems sad. Next, Ms. J asks everyone to share their stories. H has trouble pronouncing some words in his story and says that the name of his story is “The Cat in House.” He pauses and demonstrates difficulty telling the other children the plot of his story. Ms. J provides positive reinforcement and tells H his story is great. H smiles before sitting down.

References

Language and literacy. (2014). Lecture given at Institution Name, City, State.

Mathematical thinking. (2014). Lecture given at Institution Name, City, State.

Personal and social development. (2014). Lecture given at Institution Name, City, State.

Physical development and health. (2014). Lecture given at Institution Name, City, State.

Scientific thinking. (2014). Lecture given at Institution Name, City, State.

Social studies. (2014). Lecture given at Institution Name, City, State.