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Research and Practice in Early Childhood

In the article “Relationship Building: Infants, Toddlers, and 2-Year-Olds”, McGaha et al. (2011) sought to examine the kind of relationships that infants share with their peers, toddlers, and 2-year old children over a period of one year. This was achieved by separating infants from older children using transparent or temporary barriers, which could facilitate different interactions. Moreover, the article highlights various ways in which these relationships can be nurtured by parents and teachers for the benefit of a growing and learning child. Accordingly, the research findings indicate that environmental arrangement facilitates the interaction between infants and toddlers. With a favorable environment, infants and toddlers relate by sharing play materials such as dolls. Furthermore, toddlers and older children volunteer and participate in caring for infants, particularly by observing adult care-givers.

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On the other hand, McGaha et al. (2011) found out that the expression of interest in interacting with others can be nurtured by planning opportunities for older children to stay with infants and vice versa. Finally, infants and children can develop spontaneous interactions (without adult support) as they spend more time together. Therefore, these results imply that toddlers and older children can act as helpers and role models to their peers and infants. This can be anything, from guiding others to behave appropriately and providing care-giving skills to helping infants to do things they cannot do by themselves. Ultimately, programs that support the interaction of infants and older children using physical barriers can provide opportunities for infants to learn from older children and their peers. Most importantly, the research findings imply that the children’s interest in each other can be utilized in different early childhood interventions and programs in order to ensure the development of positive relationships from an early age.

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This study reviews a number of previous studies as part of the introduction. As a result, the review provides a summary of the studies to guide the development of discussions into the research questions addressed in the current study. However, the literature review is limited in that it fails to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the studies reviewed. Furthermore, the review does not provide a clear link between the previous studies and the current research question. On the other hand, this study utilizes an appropriate research methodology to address the research question. Here, it is important to note that the qualitative research method employed in this study is appropriate to the extent that it allows the researchers to give a detailed account of their observations in a local context. Furthermore, the methodology allows the researchers to identify and describe various contextual and setting factors relating to the research question (Paul & Roth, 2011; Crais, Poston Roy, & Free, 2006; Cripe & Venn, 1997). Unfortunately, the research methodology is limited in that it does not allow the researchers to give any quantitative predictions on the research question. Moreover, the research findings cannot be generalized to everyone, considering that they were observed among a small group of children in a confined space. Furthermore, the methodology leaves a lot of room for the researchers’ personal biases in making their observations (Guralnick, 2011).

On the other hand, a number of ethical concerns are evident in this study. For instance, the researchers do not indicate whether they obtained informed consents from the children’s parents and guardians before recruiting them into the study. Besides, the safety of infants in the presence of older children cannot be guaranteed, considering that older children tend to be more active and energetic, meaning that their activities can endanger the infants’ wellbeing. However, it can be assumed that the presence of adult caregivers serves to guarantee safety in this study (Li & Chung, 2009; Crais, 2011; Rosales & Allen, 2012). Most importantly, the researchers do not indicate whether their study is responsive to family needs and cultural differences since there is no evidence of family participation in the whole study (Paul & Roth, 2011).

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Nevertheless, this study provides an elaborate discussion of the researchers’ findings in relation to the development of different relationships among infants and older children in a confined space. However, it is not easy to follow the discussion, considering that the form of presentation does not allow readers to differentiate between research findings and discussions.

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