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Observing a Child: Justin at Three Report

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Justin is an adorable mini-gentleman who confidently strides in the classroom every morning with an infectious grin on his face. He easily melts the hearts of his teachers with his amiable personality and witticisms. Naturally friendly, he gets along well with his peers and does not show any reluctance in relating with anyone young or old. His presence truly adds spice and character to the Nursery class.

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Physical Development

Justin has discovered that his hands can do many things. His fine motor coordination is developing at par with his age expectations. He enjoys doing puzzles, stringing beads, building with wooden or interconnecting blocks, and other activities that involve eye-hand coordination.

He is learning to use writing instruments. He enjoys scribbling and has recently learned to trace broken lines. He has yet to learn to hold them properly, as he sometimes reverts to using his whole palm in grasping them.

His gross motor skills are developing well. He is a very active little boy, and he exhibits agility in the playground. He confidently climbs the playground equipment and his current favorite is the swing.

Justin is often seen running around with older children. He trips once in a while, but overall, he has a steady gait. He enjoys music and movement activities. He grooves to the rhythm of the beat and delights in doing actions to songs and fingerplays. Once in a while, he is seen creating his dance movements with a classmate or two in front of the mirror. It is amusing to watch these little kids enjoy their innocence and creativity on their own.


According to developmental expectations, Justin is developing at the right place. Physically, his motor skills may still be clumsy, but he is more stable than a toddler. His motor skills are slowly developing body coordination, flexibility, and agility in his movements. His fine motor skills are still very limited, as his hands need bigger objects to hold instead of very small ones because his handgrip is still not very firm. However, he tries to explore the possibilities of his hands by attempting to hold writing instruments and scribble on paper. Lately, instead of grasping his writing instruments with his whole palm, he tries to hold them with just his fingers instead.

Psychosocial Development
Self-Help Skills

Justin has learned the class routines in only a few days in school. He knows what to do and expect in every routine. Although his nanny is conveniently in the waiting area, Justin has learned to be independent and is taking care of his own needs. He can be relied on to help out in the classroom like packing away toys and books or getting some things the teacher needs for the class. He also knows how to care for his things, as he packs away his things after snack time and grooming time.

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When Justin got sick in school, he knew that his body needs to rest even if it was during his most favorite time of the day – outdoor play. He meekly followed his teacher’s advice to lie down on the little bed inside the room and close his eyes if he wants to. In a short period, he was fast asleep. His classmates respected his need to rest that they were very quiet during snack time so as not to wake him up. He stirred and as if he was dreaming, was calling for his mommy.

When he was being weaned from his diapers, Justin has had “accidents” in school. He would forget to tell his teacher that he needed to go to the bathroom and because he was so engrossed in what he was doing, would wet his pants. After some time, he has learned to read the signals of his body and would approach his teacher when he wanted to go to the bathroom.

Socio-Emotional Development

From the start, Justin’s confidence and good nature have been evident. It is no wonder that he is very popular in school. He would warmly greet his teachers and friends in the morning, and go off to enjoy the day with them.

Justin’s eagerness to learn rubs off on his classmates. When the signal for meeting time is given, he would immediately sit on his name, anticipating the “surprises” his teacher has in store for them. There have been times, though, when he becomes restless that he stands up from his place and goes to the play area even if it is time for their lessons. This action encourages his classmates to follow suit. This behavior is usually tolerated with the toddlers, taking into account their limited attention span. However, more is expected of Justin and his other three-year-old classmates. They are usually called back to the meeting area, and when they lend a deaf ear to teacher’s calls, are often reprimanded for not obeying.

Justin’s generally sunny disposition is not immune to hurt or offense. When provoked, Justin rightfully expresses his anger towards the proponent of his pain. One time, a classmate pushed him while they were at the high platform of the playground equipment. Justin was able to hold on to the bars but was immensely upset because he felt that he could have fallen off. He kept on screaming at his classmate while shedding tears, while his heartbeat was thumping very fast. It was the first time he was observed to exhibit such a strong emotion.

Like his agemates, Justin is easily appeased, and all is forgotten in a few minutes. A little while later, he will be seen smiling widely, cavorting with his classmates again, face still wet from recently shed tears. Now that’s what you call “fast relief” that no miracle drug can hold a candle to!


Three-year-olds are now being less egocentric as they realize that the world does not revolve around them. They give their attention to others as they begin to make friends. They assess their independence by volunteering to do things by themselves and help out in chores to be more productive. Although they still exhibit extreme shifts in moods and emotional outbursts, their attention can be easily diverted. Three’s are possessive with playthings but are beginning to learn to share and taking turns with other children.

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Cognitive Development

Justin knows much of the basic concepts learned in class. He knows his shapes, colors, and some of the letters, most especially the initials of his classmates’ names. He can also think of logical answers to his teacher’s questions. He can express himself very well, having a good grasp of the language. Talking to Justin is like talking to a little grown-up. His speech is very clear and his comprehension is very good.

Justin enjoys being read to. He would often choose a favorite book and sit on his teachers’ lap and request that his story be read.


Like Justin, most three-year-olds recognize names and describes simple objects and pictures. They describe simple experiences and events, match, sort, and identify basic colors and shapes, follow a series of two directions with the appropriate motor actions; recognize similarities and differences in a variety of objects and pictures.

Three-year-olds enjoy storytelling sessions and make-believe play. At a young age, they are still confused with what is real and what is fantasy.

Justin rapidly develops his vocabulary, a trait that most three-year-olds have.

Justin’s Stage in the Various Developmental Theories
Freud’s Psychosexual stage: Justin is in-between the Anal and Phallic stages. He begins to explore his body and discovers that some parts give him pleasure. Also, at this stage when he is being toilet trained, Justin sometimes fails to comply with adult rules of going to the bathroom.Psychologically, with regards to the Anal stage, Justin may be ambivalent in keeping the room orderly and clean, however, there are times when he would just want to mess everything up.
Erikson’s Psychological Development Stage: Justin is in the Initiative vs. Guilt stage. In this stage, preschoolers like Justin are so into doing things on their own and showing everyone how much they have grown in many ways. Thus, they initiate help. However, at this stage, children may be awkward, and their good intentions may backfire as in destroying some things in the process. When this happens, they are overcome with guilt
Piaget’s Cognitive Development Stage: Justin is in Piaget’s Pre-Operational Period. This is characterized by the emergence of the ability to represent objects and knowledge through imitation, symbolic play, drawing, mental images, and spoken language (Piaget and Inhelder, 1969). Justin is very open to learning and there are times when he tries to express what he learned in a variety of media.
Parenting Justin

Knowing Justin and the characteristics of three-year-olds, Justin’s parents must be ready for a livewire. Since Justin is very curious, he may touch just about anything, including things that may be harmful to him. Parents must always monitor his behaviors and supervise him most of the time.

Justin is always seeking opportunities to learn. When this happens, parents must be ready to spend time with him take advantage of incidental learning opportunities. Pointing out to interesting or even mundane things to identify or simply talk about will enrich his understanding of things. Parents must always be approachable and open to questioning. If, however, they do not know the answers to his questions, they must be humble enough to admit it and engage him to find out the answer together.

Emotionally, children at this age begin to perceive the emotions of others. They have developed some tolerance for frustration and are developing some self-control. They need overt expressions of affection and have fears of abandonment. They need routines and a semblance of security (Brewer, 2001).

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Parents must keep a positive attitude, Being sensitive to a child’s feelings and needs is one important quality that people working with very young children should have. However, in response to a stressful situation, some children withdraw or regressor retreat to behavior appropriate for a younger child. Instances of bedwetting or thumb-sucking may be observed. Adults need to maintain a positive demeanor towards the child and not further stress him or her out with obvious disappointment. Parents may be so growth-oriented that they seem especially threatened by this kind of emotional backsliding. “However, if they relax and meet this dependency in an understanding way by satisfying the child’s emotional hunger rather than trying to starve it to death, the child will almost always return to his more independent status as soon as he is emotionally able to do so. (Hendrick, 1986, p. 161)

Learning independence in doing tasks must be taken advantage of by giving Justin simple chores to do at home like cleaning up his toys after he plays with them or setting the table for dinner. This gives him a sense of duty and responsibility, and even at his young age, must be accountable for such a task.

Justin must be showered with love and affection. He must always be made to feel that he is an awesome child, capable of many skills to boost his self-esteem and self-confidence.


Brewer, J. (2001) Introduction to Early Childhood Education. Allyn & Bacon.

Hendrick, J. (1986) Total Learning: Curriculum for the Young Child. Merrill Publishing Company.

Piaget, J. & Inhelder, B. (1969) The Psychology of the Child. New York: Basic Books.

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