You are on page 1of 13

Running head: CASE STUDY 1

Case Study of Elie Zimmer, Age 4

Mekhaela Klimer

College of Southern Nevada

EDU 220

Professor Wyckoff

7 May 2017


Elie is four years old and has not yet started pre-school. She is part Mexican and of

European decent. She has a middle class family. Elie speaks English and will probably only

speak English unless she decides to learn another language in her older years. Both of Elies

parents graduated high school but did not further their education. She doesnt have any other

siblings. Elie lives at home with both parents where she is cared for. She also spends much of her

time at her grandmothers house and with her aunts, uncles, and cousins. I observed Elie at her

house and at her cousins house for a couple of days.



I observed a little girl named Elie who just turned four. She meets most the marks for

physical development. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (like crawling,

walking, or jumping). (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Elie is an active child

who hops, skips, and runs around. She is not able to tie her shoes, but she is able to put her

clothes on, although from time to time is running around with an inside-out shirt. Upon this

observation she met the standards of the University of Washington Child Development Guide.

Normal characteristics are described as, Runs, jumps, Dresses self fairly well; cannot tie

shoes. Can feed self with spoon or fork and Takes care of toilet needs more independently;

can stay dry all day but perhaps not all night. (University of Washington, 1993). Elie happily

feeds herself when food and utensils are placed in front of her. She had no accidents but would

sometimes have to be told to go to the restroom when she was trying to hold it.


The CDC states that, at this pre-school age, children should show affection. (2017).

Elie is very affectionate with her parents and her cousins. She is a bit shy when it comes to

strangers. I did notice that when she saw her slightly older cousin run up to a person, it

encouraged Elie to do the same. According to University of Washington, the normal

characteristics for emotional development are, May have fear of strangers, animals, the dark. Is

anxious to please adults and is dependent on their approval, love and praise. May strike out

emotionally at situation or persons when having troublesome feelings. (University of

Washington, 1993). Elie does meet these standards in some ways. Elie has a lot of young cousins

in her family. They are relatively close in age. When she sees them getting praise or love, she

tries to gain the same affection. Elie also lashes out with a temper when she doesnt get her way

or if a family member gets something and she does not.

Intellectual/ Cognitive

The normal characteristics for a three-four year-olds intellectual development in regards

to the University of Washington state, Continues to learn through senses. Uses imagination a

lot; starts dramatic play and role playing; like to play grown-up roles, e.g., Mommy, Daddy,

firefighter, spaceman, Wonder Woman. Begins to see cause-and-effect relationships. Is curious

and Inquisitive. (1993). Elie meets these age standards. As Elie plays, she learns. She knows the

feeling dirt and shows her mom she has to wash her hands. She points out herself or her cousins

in pictures. Elie draws with chalk and other utensils, photos of herself, her parents, and their

family pets. Elie is in a police officer phase. She wanted her birthday party to be cops and

robbers. She likes to play the officer role and makes siren noises when playing in her toy car. She

is learning more and more about sharing. Sometimes she does not want to and will throw the

item when she is told to give it. She is learning that by throwing items she can hurt someone else

or damage things. Lastly, Elie is absolutely curious and inquisitive as she is always asking,



At Elies young age, she has grown up with her cousins. She meets the University of

Washingtons social development standards which indicate, Starts to be more interested in

others; begins group play; like company. Is not ready for games or competition; groups are not

well formed. (1993). Elie likes playing with others but, she also gets upset when her older

cousins win games because they are more competitive. The University of Washington also states,

Can leave mother for short periods but mother is still very important. (1993). This goes for

both of Elies parents. She can be dropped off by them while they go to work, and is very excited

to see them when they return to pick her up.


The moral development for a three to four-year-old, according to the University of

Washington state that the normal characteristics are, Begins to know right from wrong. Finds

others opinions of self to be important. Is more self-controlled and less aggressive. (1993). Elie

partially meets these standards. I saw that she broke a few crayons that were not hers. You can

tell she knows she did something wrong but was trying to hide them back in the box before her

mom saw. She also gave the same look after hitting her baby cousin with a toy. Overall she is

aware that she is not supposed to be doing certain things but she still tests her limits in some

cases. This also falls into the aggressiveness category. Elie does have a habit of getting very

upset and angry when she doesnt get her way. Her parents are very calm when dealing with her

reactions. I think this is a great way to go about temper tantrums because the last thing you want

to do is show an aggressive child is aggression back. Elie is still developing in all aspects.

Psychologists Theories & Age Characteristics

Piagets Cognitive Developmental Theory

Piagets theory is based off two tendencies, organization and adaptation. These

tendencies and the processes that operate when human beings engage them, are key to

understanding Piagets theory of cognitive development. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 23).

Organization is the first tendency mentioned. It refers to the tendency of all individuals to

systematize or combine processes into coherent (logically interrelated systems. (Snowman &

McCown, 2013, 23). What Piaget means by this is that if you take a bear and a lion, yes they are

different but they can both be organized in a category of animals. The next tendency is

adaptation which is, The process of creating a good fit or match between ones conception of

reality (ones schemes) and the real-life experiences one encounters. (Snowman & McCown,

2013, 23). There are two sub processes for adaptation, assimilation and accommodation.

Assimilation is interpreting an experience so that it fits an existing scheme and accommodation

is changing an existing scheme to incorporate the experience. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 23).

Now schemes have been mentioned multiple times and this is because it is another tendency

belonging to Piagets cognitive developmental theory. Children formulate organized patterns of

behavior or thought, known as schemes, as they interact with their environment, parents,

teachers, and age-mates. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 23). Organization, adaptation, and

schemes are different tendencies but they are all related when it comes to Piagets theory. The

product of organization and adaptation is the creation of new schemes that allow individuals to

organized at a higher level and adapt more effectively. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 24).

I observed a little four-year-old girl named Elie who is at the correct level when it comes

to Piagets cognitive developmental theory. According to Piaget she is in her Preoperational


Stage. Mastering symbols and symbol systems (such as letters, words, and a language) is the

key developmental task for students from preschool through the primary grades. (Snowman &

McCown, 2013, 26). Elie knows her letters and can write her name, dad, mom, and short words.

If she sees a number under 40 she can say it but sometimes forgets where she is at when trying to

count up to it. In the Preoperational stage, the child forms many new schemes but does not think

logically. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 26). Elie can only focus on one task at a time. She does

not always know why she is in trouble or understand why she cant eat sugar all day, everyday.

Elie knows that she loves sugar but doesnt understand that it is unhealthy or the effects it will

have on her body overtime like an adult would. She can only take in what she is seeing through

her own eyes everyday in her environment and learn from her everyday experiences.

Vygotskys Cognitive Developmental Theory

Vygotsky had different opinions about how people learn and think, particularly with

respect to the roles of culture, social interaction and formal instruction (Rowe & Wertsch,

2002). (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 31). Vygotskys theory is often referred to as a

sociocultural theory because it maintains that how we think is a function of both current social

forces and historical cultural forces. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 32). I believe what

Vygotsky is saying is that we think and do things a specific way because our parents and our

environment has shaped us to do so. Children take in information or values taught by their

parents and begin to reflect it even when they are by themselves. Cognitive development is

strongly influence by those who are more intellectually advanced. (Snowman & McCown,

2013, 34).

Elie somewhat meets and falls behind with Vygotskys cognitive developmental theory

because although she knows not what to do around her parents she doesnt exactly keep hold of

those values when around other family members or kids. With that being said, Elie does meet

some standards when it comes to Vygotskys zone of proximal development (ZPD). This is a

process of scaffolding, Helping students answer difficult questions or solve problems by giving

them hints or asking leading questions. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 36). Elie will be entering

Kindergarten next year and her parents are trying to prepare her. In doing so, they give her

spelling words, show her numbers, etc. She doesnt always know the answers right away but by

showing her what she knows and with a little assistance from her parents she is able to spell short

words and identify more and more numbers.

Ericksons Psychosocial Development Theory

Ericksons psychosocial development theory has quite a few parts to it. It describes

psychological growth from infancy through old age. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 17).

Meaning that education from preschool to adulthood can be drawn out. Ericksons theory also

portrays people as playing an active role in their own psychological development through their

attempts to understand organize and integrate their everyday experiences. Lastly, Ericksons

theory emphasizes the important role that cultural goals, aspirations, expectations, requirements,

and opportunities play in personal growth. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 17). I believe that

Erickson is trying to say events in the lives of children, good or bad, somewhat shape their

future. In Erickson view, personality development occurs as one successfully resolves a series

of turning points or psychosocial crises. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 18). A child has to learn

about both good and bad qualities as they grow older and they can become more successful by

understanding how the positive qualities of a personality can outweigh the negative. This is

explained in more detail with Ericksons stages of psychosocial development. The first stage is

from birth to age one where an infant learns about trust and mistrust. Then from two to age three

they learn autonomy versus shame and doubt. Next from age four to five they learn initiative

versus guilt. This is followed by ages six to eleven learning industry versus inferiority. Finally

ages twelve to eighteen they are learning about identity versus role confusion.

Elie meets Ericksons psychosocial development theory and is in her initiative versus

guilt stage. Although she is still learning about good versus bad qualities, more and more she is

grasping why it is bad to yell or hit her cousins. She is also learning about lying. if four and

five-year-olds are given freedom to decide what they will do, when they will do it, and how they

will do it, and if parents and teachers take time to answer questions, tendencies toward initiative

will be encouraged. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 18). Elie is given freedom to run and play

with her cousins. She knows how to play nice and share, although from time to time she doesnt

always want to. If and when Elie acts up, you can tell there is a guilty look on her face because

she knows better.

Kohlbergs Moral Development

Kohlberg went into more detail about moral thinking based off Piagets ideas. Kohlberg

believed that moral reasoning proceeds though fixed stages and moral development can be

accelerated through instruction. (Snowman & McCown, 2013, 41). There are six fixed stages of

Kohlbergs moral reasoning. Stage one is punishment-obedience orientation where good and bad

are determined by a physical consequence. The second stage is instrumental relativist orientation

which is considered an even exchange, for example, dont do something bad to me and I will

not do something bad to you. The third stage is good boy-nice girl orientation which portrays

doing the right thing will give others a positive mark of you. The fourth stage is law and order

orientation. The fifth stage involves social contract orientation. The fourth and fifth stages state

that there should be laws and rules but they must be mutually agreed upon. Finally, the sixth

stage is universal ethical principle orientation.

Elie does not meet Kohlbergs moral development because she is only four-years-old.

She has only maybe experienced the first three stages to a certain extent. She knows not draw on

the wall or that she needs to put shoes on before she goes outside. Elie knows these things

through experience of getting yelled at and burning her feet. She slightly understands stage two

because if she pushes her girl cousins they will most likely push her back. Elie meets standards

under stage three to an extent because when she is good her parents and extended family praise

her for it. Elie is too young to understand stages four though six.

Snowmans General Characteristics

When looking at Snowmans general characteristics, they are broken down by age levels.

There are physical, social, emotional, and cognitive characteristics. The physical characteristic

for a preschooler are very active. With all the high energy comes sporadic quiet time or a nap.

Preschoolers can also be very clumsy although they have muscle control that continues to grow

and better itself. Social characteristics of a child in preschool begin with a child having a friend

or classmate they get along with. Emotional characteristics include preschool children being

aware of their emotions and the emotions of others around them. Lastly, cognitive characteristics

should include a child able to develop a theory of mind. They should be able to understand lying,

disobeying, mistakes, and surprises.

According to Snowmans general characteristics, Elie meets the norm. She is very active

and loves to play but also takes naps. She walks normal and is clumsy when trying to go fast or

do too much. She is shy at first but makes friends easily. She is aware when her cousins are in

trouble or when they are sad. Elie knows it is bad to lie and when she is making a mistake. Elie is

a happy and smart four-year-old. I believe as she grows older she will continue to meet the

standards of all the psychologists theories.



According to the CDC for a healthy preschooler like Elie she should, Be able to feed

herself, pick out her own clothes and dress herself, and she should be carefully supervised during

physical activities. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). By the standards of the

University of Washingtons website, recommended behavior for effective parenting would be to,

Eat meals with your child whenever possible. This is important so that they can see you eating

healthy foods. Also, Limit T.V. for your child to no more than 1 to 2 hours, and provide them

with age-appropriate play equipment, but also let them choose what to play. (University of

Washington, 1993).


The CDC suggests that parents should, Help your child through the steps to solve

problems when she is upset. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). Elie should

also be developed in showing affections. The University of Washington states that effective

parents should, Develop a warm relationship with their child. Express and show love for and

confidence in the child. Offer love, understanding, and patience. Help child work with and

understand own emotions. (University of Washington, 1993).


In order to continue to improve a childs intellectual development the CDC suggests to,

Continue to read to your child and nurture their love for books. Help your child develop good

language skill by speaking to him/her in complete sentences and using grown up words. Help

them to use the correct words and phrases. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).

The University of Washington suggested behaviors for effective parenting in intellectual

development are, Point out and explain common cause-and-effect relationships how rain helps

flowers grow, how dropping makes glass break, how hitting hurts a person. Explain things to the

child, answer questions honestly, and help child put feelings and ideas into words. (University

of Washington, 1993).


The CDC explains that a parent can help their child by, Encouraging your child to play

with other children. This helps them learn the value of sharing and friendship. (Center for

Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). The University of Washington suggested behaviors for

effective parenting in social development are, Express interest in what the child has been doing

while away from parent(s). Provide enough materials so that several children can use them

together. Help the child find socially acceptable ways of dealing with others. (University of

Washington, 1993).


A positive parenting tip from the CDC states, Be clear and consistent when disciplining

your child. Explain and show the behavior that you expect from her. Whenever you tell her no,

follow up with what she should be doing instead. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

2017). The University of Washington suggested behaviors for effective parenting in moral

development are, Praise the child whenever you honestly can. Focus on behavior; be explicit,

e.g., You ate all the peas and peas are good for you, or That drawing has such beautiful

colors, instead of I like that drawing. Also, Provide clear limits; enforce them consistently,

but not harshly. (University of Washington, 1993).



Elie meets most of the standards in her age range for physical, emotional, intellectual,

social, and moral development. Her intellectual development is at the preoperational stage.

Socially, Elie can tell the difference between genders. She is around children her age and older

and younger. Recommendations for Elie include that she continues to play with her cousins and

friends because she is an only child at home. This allows her to keep up with sharing and

playing, and also learning how to get along when fighting over a toy or losing a game occurs. As

she is approaching kindergarten age, a recommendation would be for her parents to continue to

read to her and help her with the alphabet, numbers, and simple spelling words including her

name and things she knows, like cat, dog, etc.



Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Child development: Preschoolers (3-5 years

of age). Retrieved from

Snowman, J. & McCown, R. (2013). ED PSYCH. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

University of Washington. (1993). Child development: Using the child development guide.

Retrieved from