This study will explore the observations made from Preston Horse. Preston is my cousin’s son who has just completed kindergarten. He is the second and the last born after his eldest sister Mitchell who is 8 years old first grader. Preston was born in late 2007 and he is 5 years and 10 months old now. Preston weighs 43 pounds and is exactly 3’ tall. According to the Carlson & Corcoran (2001), an average North American child weighs about 45 pounds and is 3.5 feet tall at the age of six. This means Preston is slightly below average. Preston lives with both his parents at Locker Street that is a mile away from the town centre. Both parents are employed and always commute to work in town. His father is a bank manager while his mother is a teacher in a private school at the town centre.
It hit the 7 o’clock by my watch when I arrived at Preston’s home on Sunday. The morning was still young with drizzles and Preston was still in bed. I received a hearty welcome from his mother who came all the way from the kitchen while Mitchell who was already up planted herself on the cozy sofa and was keenly following a cartoon movie from the television. I asked the mother when Preston would be awake and she explained that normally on Sundays Preston is lazy in waking up but he always wakes up before 8 o’clock to follow his best cartoon clips. I had to wait for Preston to wake up.
Meanwhile, I engaged his mother in some questions about Preston’s mood when he wakes up, if he has ever been woken up, and if he oversleeps during school days. Moments after I had completed writing down my notes, Preston sauntered in the sitting room with a smile on his face at exactly 7:56 am. He quickly shook my hand while smiling at me and rushed to grab the remote from his sister who at first declined to give it to him. She later gave him after their mother’s intervention when Preston burst into a loud cry while throwing some feeble kicks at his sister. Preston sat beside me with a grin on his face while he curiously scrolled down to find his favorite channel to watch his cartoons.
At exactly 8:00 am, Preston found the cartoon channel, and with all his attention drawn to the screen, he laughed hysterically at the cartoon movie, which as I later learnt was the famous “Ben10”. Her sister also enticed by the cartoons joined him and they both seemed to enjoy watching. When it hit 8:15 am, Preston was bored by the commercial break that cut short his happy moments. He dropped the remote on the table and jumped with a somersault from the other side of his seat to the opposite imitating the moves he had seen from “Ben10”. Bergen & Fromberg (2009) affirm that childhood play continues to accommodate the repetition of the same activities hence increasing the levels of skills among children.
Preston picked his drawing book and pencils and started drawing something that seemed to me like a car. At 8:19 am, Preston was through with his painting and brought it to me to see how good he is at drawing. I approved of his skill and decided to award him 10 points out of 10 and this elated him. He boasted of his “car” and asked me if I could draw the same car as his so we could compare. I explained to him that I had to continue writing but would draw later when I would finish. He ran to show his sister and eventually rushed to the kitchen to show his mother but he bumped into her by the door leading to the dining room from the kitchen. Her mother also congratulated him for his best skills in drawing and asked him to draw their house after having breakfast.
Notably, tea was ready by 8:20 am but Preston did not seem interested in it. He continued with his drawing but then realized that he was getting late for breakfast. He asked me to join them in the dining room, which I politely tried to decline, but he insisted and grabbed my hand saying, “Uncle Sam, please join me in the dining room so we could have breakfast together”. I realized he would not go if I did not join him and so I accompanied him to the dining table. At 8:25 am, Preston enjoyed his cup of coffee with bread and peanut butter. A variety of foods such as bacon, sausages, dry fruits, and vegetable burger made me curious to know why Preston chose coffee with bread, and peanut butter. “Dad tells me that if I eat a lot of bread and butter, I will grow faster and become like him”, explained Preston and I realized it was his third slice of bread. Preston seemed to have admired and taken in his father’s advice in a bid to see him grow and become like him.
It was 8:30 am and I was already done with my cup of coffee and still keenly observing Preston. Preston was still taking his breakfast talking about what he and his friends did while in school. It seemed Preston enjoys eating while talking and asking rhetorical questions and demanding answers. At 8:40 am, Preston was now done with eating his breakfast. He quickly rushed for his toy car and was no longer interested in drawing the house his mother had asked him to draw. Notably, any activity would only count as play in cases where it is done in a voluntary and self-organized manner. Damon & Lerner (2008) reiterate that children are only able to identify an activity as play when they choose it but would identify the same activity as work in cases where adults make choices for such activities.
When it got to 8:45 am, Preston was already bored with his toy car as he could be seen throwing it up high and leaving it to fall down with a thud and did not seem to care about it. Luckily enough, his sister, Mitchell came along and asked if they could play “House of Cards.” “I cherish that game and I believe that I am going to make my own house today”, Preston responded with a broad smile on his face. I keenly studied the creativity and diligence of Preston as he enjoyed the game. At first, he made consecutive blunders and bent the cards without his knowledge and his sister was very quick at noticing his errors. His sister’s criticism did not seem to deter him from finally building a house he wanted. This incident also proved right the assertion that indeed, when children play, they usually practice their power of self-direction, self-organization, and the exertion of self-control.
At 9:05 am, Preston was happy to have built the mansion as he had promised to. “Uncle Sam, I told you I was going to build my own house, come and see how beautiful it looks,” Preston said with a grin on his face as he walked over to the door to respond to a knock he had heard before the rest of us. “Hi daddy, welcome home, we got a visitor, Uncle Sam.” Preston said delightfully, as his father bent and stretched out his arms to lift him up and asked him, “Where is mommy, big boy?” Preston smiled at his father and replied, “She is upstairs making her hair.” His father put him down and proceeded upstairs after we exchanged some pleasantries.
After a successful completion of recording my observations, and as Preston already knew I was through, he asked me if I knew how to play any of the PS2 games. “I will play the one you most love,” I replied. Preston scrolled down the desktop, which was just by the sitting room on a large table. Preston picked on the Need for Speed Most Wanted PS2 game. I asked him why he had chosen the game and he replied confidently, “I have a great passion for cars and I love car racing but my sister does not like playing with me.” Novak, Peáez, & Pelaez (2003) agree that for many children in the middle children age, virtual reality technology is effective in the provision of three-dimensional games, such as Nintendo’s Wii, that use hand-held devices, which detects motion effectively. These games could be so addictive making most children abandon other activities that build negotiation skills and social competence with other children. Preston indeed won all the two games and I was glad and conceded the defeat. He was very elated at his victory and proudly jumped up saying “Hail! Hail! King Preston, hail!” To control his frenzy, I asked him if he could read me his favorite storybook if he had one. “Yes, sure I have one called ‘Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand’, you will love it Uncle Sam,” he replied as he rushed to his bedroom. Within a short time, he was already reading me the storybook. He made well pauses where necessary and pronounced words without making mistakes but always stammered when there were words that he could not articulate properly. Tassoni (2007) opines that reading utilizes numerous skills at once hence taxing all aspects of the human information-processing systems. After 30minutes, I realized that he was getting bored as he kept playing with his nails, yawning hysterically and scratching his head. “Wow! That was perfect reading there, that was an interesting story Preston.” I congratulated him as he looked down while burying his face with the book and responded, “Thank you Uncle Sam, though I got tired reading the whole story, I will read it to you some other time but you must promise to help write down the tongue twisters so I can practice them later.” I extended my hand to reach his head and congratulated him again while rubbing my hand against his hair. “I will, but tongue twisters should not worry you so much right now, you have really impressed me,” I replied to him. And as I finished making this remarks to him, it dawned on me that indeed, by the age of 6 to 7, children have formed at least four broad self-evaluations including academic competence, social competence, physical competence, and physical appearance that make them live effectively in society.
After a brief interaction with both of Preston’s parents , I learnt that Preston has never been admitted to the hospital because of any serious ailment other than when he had stepped on a nail while playing with his friends outside. Currently, he does not have any abnormality in him and is always happy to be around his friend next door, and he was still in the house only because of my presence. They explained to me that his progress at school is always outstanding, and he is always careful with his schoolwork. He has good relationships with his teachers and other kids in school. He never quarrels with his sister nor does he disrespect his parents. He likes being corrected when he realizes his mistakes, but he is always careful not to provoke strangers. During school days, Preston usually wakes up at 6am in the morning even before his sister, Mitchell. The first thing he does when he wakes up is waking his parents up if they are still in bed, so that they can prepare him coffee. His parents also indicated that he can clean his teeth, take a shower all by himself and dress up before taking breakfast.
According to Preston’s parents, he is always already dressed up in his school uniform and ready at the table taking breakfast by 6:30 am. By 6:45 am, Preston is always outside with his coffee bag waiting for the school bus to pick him up to school. It normally takes about 10 minutes to get to school where he takes his lunch. At school, there is normally one hour of recess where children can play and learn skills from one another. His school considers recess because of its significance in improving the children’s concentration as well as overall performance. Bergen & Fromberg (2009) confirm that many schools especially those ranked lowest in terms of performance have eliminated recess period. During playtime, Preston plays with his regular friends showing them his gymnastic moves that he learns from the television. At school, they normally take a lunch break of 1 hour from 12:45pm to 1:45 where they have only one lesson, and then are allowed to take a nap until 3:30, when they are woken up and allowed to come back home.
By 4pm in the evening, they are released to come home but Preston always waits for his sister before proceeding home with her. Usually, either his mother or the father, whoever comes home early, picks both of them from school. By 4:15pm, Preston is already at home gears after bathing. Then he heads out to play with his friend next door but he is sometimes limited to playing outside with his friend when he has homework to do. I realized that there is immense truth in the assertion that most children waste their time on music, dance, or other lessons.
The mother also noted that Preston normally takes supper around 7pm in the evening together with his family and then after that, he is even too tired to watch TV unlike his sister. If he does, he sleeps on the couch and his father has to pick him to his bed. The latest that Preston can stay awake is up to 8:00pm. Although he sleeps alone in his bedroom, he is never scared to stay alone, and comfortably sleeps when the lights are off.
Testing the Child
I was particularly interested in ascertaining how well Preston could sing. Therefore, I asked him to sing to me one of his favorite songs. Without hesitation, he stood up, sang a Christian song, and expressed no fear as he sang confidently. He was very presentable and used facial expressions as well as body movements with regard to the tone of the song. After he had finished, I asked him where he learnt the song and he told me, they always sing the song on Fridays at school, and that they sing the song at his local church, so everybody knows how to sing it including his friends back at school. Again, I asked him who his role model is and he quickly called out his dad’s name. Then I asked him what he would like to be when he is a grown up. “I want to be a mechanical engineer,” he responded with his face lifted up.
With the kind of the childcare Preston is given, he is destined to a bright future. Should he continue with his vigor and dire need for knowledge, he is probably one of the many kids who will lead to the success of the nation in the near future. Meggitt (2006) asserts that high quality childcare is crucial for the children’s well-being. Additionally, attending high quality after school programs with significant activities promotes good school performance as well as emotional and social adjustment. Preston is determined to working hard in realizing his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer when he grows up.
I must concede that the child study played a very important role in my life. I appreciate the opportunity I have been granted with Preston’s parents to interact and articulate what I have learnt from the textbooks and the real life. Indeed, there is a connection between the knowledge we obtain from the books and the real experiences as deduced from the forgoing study of Preston Horse.