Case study: social and emotional development


Your task is to analyse the case study about Jessica and to relate some or all of the concepts/subject areas we have covered in the module to this analysis.
Assessment: Case study
(2,500 words approximately)
Base your discussion around the learning outcomes.

1. Understand theoretical accounts of social and emotional development:
Freud, Erikson, Bowlby Ainsworth and Maccoby and Martin
2. Explore the influences of families, peers and teachers on social and emotional development
3. Discuss ways in which those working with children and young people might support learnersa social and emotional development.

Jessica is a six year old girl who attends a primary school in Derbyshire. She is currently in Year 1 and her teacher, Miss Smith is concerned that she does not mix with other children easily and appears to be withdrawn and moody. Discussions with her mother had been very brief, and she brushed away any suggestions that there was anything wrong.

Jessicaas teacher, Miss Smith, had also noticed that Jessica is often isolated on the playground and has not managed to establish any close friendships with her classmates. When invited to play with other children she often disrupts the game (on one occasion she ran off with their ball and threw it into the mud). This results in the girls excluding her or sometimes teasing her and asking her for things before running off and laughing at her. She is sometimes allowed to play with the girls but Miss Smith has noticed that she is always obliged to do this on their terms (such as playing the baby in one of their games) and the girls make fun of this.

Eventually, after an incident during a creativity session (where Jessica poked another child with a very sharp pencil) a joint meeting was called with Jessicaas parents, her reception class teacher and her year one teacher, Miss Smith. Jessicaas mother was initially very defensive, but eventually broke down in tears, explaining that her husband had left home 12 months ago to live with someone else who had a son of Jessicaas age. A new baby had arrived and the initial contact that Jessica had had with her father has now almost stopped. In addition, Jessicaas mother was working part time to replace the lost income, and Jessica was being left with a range of different people, depending on who would or could have her. At home, Jessica often demonstrates aggressive behaviour which was usually ignored by her mother because she is just too busy and stressed to deal with it. Jessica has also recently started to wet the bed.

Jessicaas mother often feels guilty for not being around very much for Jessica and takes her to the local shop to buy her a toy or her favourite sweets on a weekly basis.

In the classroom Jessica is fairly quiet and is not always willing to answer questions or engage with her group work. She spends a great deal of time off task and appears reluctant to learn. When the teaching assistant, Miss Jones, works with her on a one to one basis, Jessica is generally responsive and produces work consistent with her age group. However, if Miss Jones is required elsewhere, which she often is, Jessica tends to daydream or withdraws into himself. In addition to this, tasks take her a very long time to complete.

It seems as though the distance between Jessica and her classmates is increasing and she is lonely and unhappy but unable to find a way of dealing with this. Miss Smith is worried that without further additional support or some parental intervention Jessica will not continue to make progress or may even fall behind her class mates.

Adapted from Tassoni et al (1999) Early Years Care and Education, Oxford: Heinemann.


Your task is to analyse the case study about Jessica and to relate some or all of the concepts/subject areas we have covered in the module to this analysis.

You might therefore wish to include a discussion of Freud/Erikson and their description of social and emotional development in order to gain insights into the type of conflicts which are connected with Jessicaas age group. You might want to include Bowlbyas attachment formation, gender development, parenting styles, self esteem, pro-social behaviour and making friends here. Remember you will need to address all three learning outcomes and consider theory, the influence of families, peers and teachers on social and emotional development and ways they might support Jessica in her social and emotional development.

Essentially, the essay is about explaining Jessicaas behaviour using the knowledge/reading that you have gained throughout the module. So, you need to think about it first and decide which aspects are important in this case and how they are useful in understanding the case study. When you have decided what is going to be included, you then need to set it out as a formal essay that includes a clear introduction, connections between the points you make and a conclusion which summarises the essay.

Remember that the essay is about the case study, so make sure that you do not simply talk about social and emotional development but that you talk about Jessica, focus upon her. Remember also to include references to academic reading within the text as you talk about these aspects and to list these in the reference list at the end.