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2 Major Influences on Child Development

Development and learning take place when the child is mature or ready to learn and when opportunities for learning are available.

the biological readiness or maturation is mainly determined by heredity. The child also inherits many other traits and characteristics. Heredity is one factor that influences development. The other factor are the experiences of the child and opportunities available to her. these are determined by child’s environment. Development and learning are the result of interaction between heredity and environment.


1. Environment

It refers to the external conditions that influence development. we can consider environment as prenatal and postnatal. the prenatal environment is the mother’s womb. the foetus is affected by the kind and amount of food the mother eats, physical work done by her, illness she may have during pregnancy and drugs consumed by her. the mother’s feelings and emotions will also affect the foetus.

after birth the environment influences the development of the child in many ways. We refer to this as the postnatal environment. the postnatal environment can be divided into physical and social influences. Physical environment refers to the ecological conditions: the type of food eaten, the occupation of the people, the amount of living space, the surroundings, facilities ( hospitals, electricity, water, etc.) and media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.). Social environment refers to the settings in which the child has interactions with other people. the interaction is influenced by size and type of family, gender, culture, religion and social class. Environment provides the experiences to the child.


2. Heredity

It refers to the inborn traits and characteristics. These characteristics are transmitted to the child from the parent. the colour of one’s hair, skin and eyes, the shape of one’s nose and the body structure are determined by heredity. A person’s mental capacity and some personality traits are also determined by heredity. A person’s mental capacity and some personality traits are also determined by heredity characteristics from parents to children. They carry the codes of the biological development of an individual. the maturation of different parts of the body is also determined by genes. At what stage in life a particular organ/ system matures is determined by genes.


If i could conclude, heredity and environment interact to all areas of development. Heredity sets the limits to what a person can achieve and environment determines how much of this potential is realised. In no case can we say that development is a consequence of only heredity or only environment. It is a result of the interaction between the two. the different genetic material that each one of us inherits and the varied experiences we have account for the differences among us.

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