Developmental Case Study on Kayla and David

This developmental case study is based on the observations of Kayla and David. Kayla is a 4-year old preschooler while David is a 1st grader. The observations took place at Calloway HeadStart program and Hudson Elementary School, both situated in Collegeville community. Characteristics of each student were carefully noted. The students did not have prior knowledge that they were being observed in order to avert a change in behavior. The characteristics were observed in the physical, cognitive, and social/emotional domains.

Developmental Characteristics of Kayla

Kayla is a jovial child who likes to play a lot. Kayla was able to climb stairs but with a lot of caution. In fact, she placed one of her hands on the stair rails as she climbed up or down. This was her way of getting assistance to prevent her from tumbling down. During free time, she engaged in a number of activities with other children. She could be able to jump or hop on her legs. This indicated that her leg muscles were now stronger to support the weight of her body. She showed improved upper body mobility. We set out for an activity where she would hit a stationery ball hanging from a tree using a bat. On the second try, she was able to hit the ball. She could also be able to throw the ball. The behaviors in the physical domain are typical of those expected at this developmental level. According to McDevitt & Ormrod (2013), children at this developmental level show “increasing abilities in such motor skills as running and skipping, throwing a ball, building block towers, and using scissors” (p. 26).

In the cognitive domain, Kayla exhibited a number of developmental characteristics. First, she was quite inquisitive, asking questions such as “why do you have to leave?” She gave close attention to the answers I gave. I ensured the answers were simple for her to understand. To test logical thinking, equal cups of water were poured in two different containers – one obviously larger than the other one. On asking which held more water, her answer was that the bigger container had more water than the smaller one. In class, Kayla could understand that a day is divided into three: morning, afternoon, and night. Kayla was able to make inanimate objects representing various items. For instance, she was able to draw a picture representing a horse, although it was not properly drawn. The behaviors observed are typical for the development level of Kayla. According to Anthony (2016), children at this period show certain characteristics such as the ability to use symbolic thought, centration of thought, and exhibit more advanced play tendencies.

Related: Behavioral Disorders

In the social/emotional domain, Kayla exhibited a number of social developmental characteristics. First, she could able to tell her gender. In the same line, she was keen on socializing with children of her gender. She preferred spending time with her friend who I understood they are neighbors. She could tell her name as well as those of her parents. When another child cried, she was curious to know what had upset the child. This indicates she is becoming aware of other people’s feelings or moods. While taking meal, she got to the queue behind the other children who arrived earlier. The behaviors observed in the social domain are typical for the development level of Kayla. According to McDevitt & Ormrod (2013), children in early childhood show social/emotional development which entails “modest appreciation that other people have their own desires, beliefs, and knowledge” (p. 26).

Developmental Characteristics of David

David is a 1st grader who is cheerful and likes playing with friends. David seems to have perfected his physical skills. He can comfortably go up and down the stairs by taking the steps sequentially. David shows improved coordination especially while playing with a soccer ball. He could also be able to dribble the ball although for a short period. He can be able to kick a ball and aim towards a particular direction. David’s handwriting was legible. He could be able to write accurately and in a neat manner. All these activities show improved motor coordination. David seemed to be proud of his physical abilities even though he was not good at something. David enjoyed other forms of play especially rough play activities. For instance, he would quite often push and wrestle with his friend. David could also tie his own shoelaces. The behaviors observed are typical of this developmental level. According to McDevitt & Ormrod (2013), children in middle childhood show “successful imitation of complex physical movements” (p. 27). This means that children at this level are more in control of their body, and have refined their skills.

David expressed several characteristics in the cognitive domain. The area he showed improvement include: problem solving, language, memory, and in other areas. David was eager to learn a lot of new things, including what the teacher was giving them. He had a longer concentration span and could focus on what the teacher was saying for longer period of time. David used objects to count in mathematics. For instance he used his fingers to sum 2 + 2. I also noted that David had developed the ability to compare and contrast items. For instance, he could be able to compare simple mathematical objects such as a circle and an oval shape. I noticed that most children at this age learn mathematics by relating symbols. The behaviors observed are typical for the developmental level of David. According to Morin (2016), children at this age are able to make connections between various objects. For instance, children at this level develop the ability to make comparisons between objects, people, and ideas. David was able to make comparisons among various mathematical objects.

Related: The Pragmatic Curriculum

David also expressed characteristics in the social/emotional domain. David has two close friends whom he spends time with. Both of his friends are in the same class as David. David can only share his toys with his close friends, while refusing to share with others. David has developed the awareness that people may have different thoughts and feelings. For instance, he was aware that one of his friends would not like it if he gave out an item he had borrowed from him. David also had the ability to resolve simple conflicts that arose especially when they were playing. The behaviors observed are typical for the developmental level of David. McDevitt & Ormrod (2013) describe middle childhood at a level where children develop the “desire for time with age-mates, especially friends of the same gender” (p.27). During this stage, there is a strong desire to establish close ties with those of the same gender. Nonetheless, simple arguments may break these friendships.


Anthony, M. (2016, June 5). Cognitive development in 3-5 year olds. Retrieved from                 development-3-5-year-olds

McDevitt, T., & Ormrod, J. (2013). Child development and education. Upper Saddle River, NJ:   Pearson Education, Inc.

Morin, A. (2016, April 15). Cognitive skills that are important for first grade: Cognitive   development milestones are important for first graders. Retrieved from


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