Early years development and the formation of meaning, intention and behavior

PhD Thesis

Robinson, Margherita Maria Rosina 2008. Early years development and the formation of meaning, intention and behavior. PhD Thesis University of East London School of Law and Social Sciences
AuthorsRobinson, Margherita Maria Rosina
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis builds on three guiding hypotheses. Firstly, that the capacity for age appropriate play provides a valid and robust medium for the assessment of a child's current levels of developmental maturation. The second, that the trajectory of physical, emotional, social and cognitive
development, while retaining their specific features, is nevertheless interlinked and mutually influential in a dynamic and unceasing process with human behaviour being a composite of this complex, ongoing interaction. The third hypothesis was that delay or dysfunction could be
potentially 'signposted' at an earlier phase of development through such a holistic approach supported by skilled assessment and observation.

This study therefore incorporates an analysis of an empirical, observational study of a play situation
with two groups of young people. Their approach and capacity for play was examined and evaluated in the light of research information on the potential role of play in development within a context of age appropriate expectations. The poverty of their play led to consideration of the potential precursors to the variations in play at different ages and led to the exploration of three possibilities.
These were whether a) a unified perspective of development would provide a more indepth method of evaluating developmental progress overall; b) early identification of delay or dysfunction could be better ascertained by the application of such a holistic appraisal in the assessment of development and c) to explore further the possibility that play is a robust medium for such developmental

The first possibility was explored via a theoretical synthesis of research findings from a range of sources. A focus age range of 7-12 months was chosen for this exploration because of its identification as an important phase in overall development. The second possibility invited the reexamination of current surveillance of this age range which led to the design of an alternative
protocol for assessing the normality and age related achievements of these infants which incorporated the third possibility as observation and play is the context for this assessment.
Health visitors were the identified practitioners of choice because of their unique role in surveillance of growing infants.

This work has therefore provided the framework for considering development through a more holistic lens and has lent support to the hypotheses, i.e. that assessments which are based on an integrated view of development and incorporate play based activities are potentially highly sensitive and informative of levels of maturation.

Finally it is suggested that this style of assessment supports the implementation and application of theoretical information in practice for those professionals working in early years.

KeywordsPlay in development; Human development; Emotional development
Publication dates
PrintDec 2008
Publication process dates
Deposited13 Jan 2014
Additional information

This thesis supplied via ROAR to UEL-registered users is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights, and duplication of any part of the material is not permitted, except for your personal use for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study in electronic or print form. You must obtain permission from the copyright-holder for any other use. Electronic or print copies may not be offered, for sale or otherwise, to anyone. No quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.

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