A Naturalistic Assessment of Preschool Children and Toddlers in Playground

The life cycle of a child is filled with various unpredictable discoveries, reactions, and levels of energy among other things based on the environment (Lieberman, Van Horn, Grandison & Pekarsky, 1997). This paper will cover a naturalistic assessment of preschool children and toddlers in playground and home care scenarios respectively.

In regards to preschool children, the assessment will be based on the playground environment in the presence of their teacher. I observed the child playing on the slide and jungle gym with other preschoolers. I observed that preschoolers have a high tendency of mimicking each other. They like repeating or copying from one another. On the slide, the children slide down it. However, when one of them decided to walk up the slide instead of sliding, the others followed suit. The children that accomplished walking up the slide felt proud of themselves. In addition, they looked for appreciation or praise for their accomplishment from their teacher. Next, preschoolers are very social and like making friends. Several preschoolers stuck with their newly formed friends throughout different activities in the playground. They were always connected to each other.

For instance, on the slide, they were sliding down in pairs following one another like a train. Furthermore, preschoolers like to explore (Hockenberry & Wilson, 2011). This was observed mostly on the jungle gym (a round metallic object having a ladder). Several preschoolers explored and tried independently to climb the jungle gym. Those who did not manage were discouraged and quickly left going back to sliding. However, with assistance, they managed to climb. Those who managed to climb portrayed good eye-to-hand coordination that enabled them to climb effectively. This indicated normal growth and development. Relative to Erickson’s development theory, preschoolers are portrayed as highly initiative and experience guilt easily. They take the initiative to enhance their ability in the task/situation by copying those around them. On the contrary, if they fail to fulfill their goals and desires, they are easily frustrated and feel guilty (Lieberman, Van Horn, Grandison & Pekarsky, 1997).

With respect to toddlers, they were curious, active and reacted appropriately to different situations throughout my observation time. The toddlers were always in a good mood and smiled frequently, which signaled good health. Their movement and manipulation of objects were significantly evident (Hockenberry & Wilson, 2011). Toddlers who did not walk primarily by themselves crawled and could walk through the support of the caregiver or stationary objects like the table. Whilst for those who could walk freely, they could lift one leg, sway, or wiggle, and in the possibility of danger, they could seek support. They would seek support by either waiving or crying. In the manipulation of objects, the toddlers portrayed various motor skills. These include holding milk/juice bottles to drink; picking and transferring objects; chewing and biting objects; banging objects together and waiving or pointing out the objects they wanted or could not reach. Additionally, I observed that toddlers are excited and happy about sounds or music. When the radio was put on, they started to clap and wiggle. The banging of objects was common to them due to the sound produced. During my acquaintance with the toddlers, I received suspicious looks accompanied by crying, whereas others ran to hide. This indicates cognition development where they could differentiate people and situations and seek protection. Lastly, the toddlers were acquainted with the reaction of the caregiver (approval or disapproval) regarding their behavior or demands. Erickson’s development theory describes this stage as the stage when the child develops autonomy of learning new skills and differentiating right from wrong. This builds the self-image of the child (Lieberman, Van Horn, Grandison & Pekarsky, 1997). On the contrary, it may lead to low self-image and feeling of shame in case of poor care.


Hockenberry, M. & Wilson, D. (2011). Wong’s nursing care of infants and children, (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Elsevier.

Lieberman, A.F., Van Horn, P., Grandison, C.M. & Pekarsky, J.H. (1997). Mental health assessment of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in a service program and a treatment outcome research program. Infant Mental Health Journal, 18(2): 158-170.

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