Infancy and early childhood are referred to as those immature years of life and the stage at which most of a child’s development occurs. To strengthen the development of a child’s learning one must understand the physical and mental factors that affect a child’s development through observation and interaction. Development begins during the prenatal period on up to the early years and depends on the nutritional, medical, emotional, and intellectual support of parents, family members, caregivers, and teachers (Cherry, 2011). Parenting styles also play a role in what influences development as well as early childhood education programs. During the prenatal period when a child’s development begins, thus being aware of many factors that can damage the fetus and the development of a healthy child. In the early years the development of physical growth is through constant change. A key component in a child’s development is based on good nutrition as well as motor milestones needed for a child to succeed. Piaget and many other theorists refer to stages of specific age that defines the milestones reached. However, every child is different and so are there developmental successes (Berger, 2008). Infants develop skills based on their experiences in exploring the world around them. Physical play allows them to develop coordination as well as stronger muscles. Sensory skills are developed through taste, smell, touch, seeing, hearing, and from that perception is gained. Motor, sensory, and perceptual skills are supported by stimulation and a caring environment. Cognitive development occurs when a child becomes aware of physical sensations such as his or her mouth, hands, and feet. This is when an infant will explore and begin to understand what is around them (Berger, 2008). It is through early childhood that physical and neuropsychological changes help to increase coordination, control, manipulation, and movement through refining motor and perceptual skills. A good example of refining motor skills is through lacing and threading when tying their shoes as well as writing and drawing. It is these changes that create the milestones of such development. Environmental stimulus creates neurological development to control body functions to succeed in sports and other body-related skills. To enable such development to master such skills one must provide children with the opportunities of a challenging environment to learn and improve on such skills. The importance of childhood development is based on peer relationships, social play, and emotional development that help them build on self and moral values. As children engage in such play, he or she will begin to explore ways to solve problems as well as how they view other’s perspectives (Berger, 2008). It is through a stimulating and supportive environment that will allow a child to develop. The support of the parents, family members, and other individuals will help a child develop self-concept and self-esteem to learn and grow, and will be the foundation for building strong relationships with the ability to express emotion. Such a foundation will allow a child to develop by exploring new situations and being able to build on that to create healthy relationships (Berger, 2008). Parenting Styles and their Influence Family structure also affects both cognitive and emotional development of a child and is based on the size of the family and what order the child was born. However, a child’s performance is based on how safe and secure the child feels as well as an environment that provides warmth, consistency, and family communication. Family structure also leads to other factor that influences childhood development and the styles in which parents teach that may or may not be a supportive foundation. A clinical psychologist named Diane Baumrind discovered that there were four styles of parenting; however, three styles were displayed most. Her discovery came from a study that she had conducted on more than 100 children. This study of parenting and its effects on children displayed many aspects of parenting such as strategies of discipline, parental nurturance, styles of communication, and one’s level maturity and control. Observation from such dimensions created what is known as the four styles of parenting. Authoritarian Parenting Authoritarian parenting was a style of parenting that expected children to follow the rules and obey. Good behavior was rewarded; whereas, bad behavior was punished. This style of parenting felt as though they needed to give no eason other than “they said so. ” Communication between parent and child was minimal with no response to child. Children who grew up from this type of parenting ranked lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem. Children are not allowed to make their own choices and given limited freedom. Authoritative Parenting Authoritative parenting is similar to that of authoritarian in terms of establishing rules and guidelines to follow, but much more democratic. However, this style of parenting is more responsive to their children. Though standards are set high there is room for decision-making. Parents are more willing to listen to their children and be more supportive rather than punitive. This style of parenting tends to result in happier children. These children tend to achieve higher grades in school, and have less social problems. Authoritative parenting helps children develop self-sufficiency and independence. This is the style of parenting I believe is most effective because it offers the most balanced approach to parenting. Parents enforce rules and limits, but do so to protect their children rather than stifle them. This style of parenting enforces rules when they need to but also allows their children to make mistakes and learn from them when the situation does not require strong discipline. Permissive Parenting Permissive parenting is what many refer to as understanding parents. They demand less and seldom discipline their children and create substandard assumptions of maturity level and self-control. Baumrind believes that indulgent parents are less demanding and more responsive. This parenting style would prefer to be a friend rather than a parent and can be a detriment because it teaches the child; rules do not need to be followed; thus, creating defiance of authority without worrying about the consequences of others. Children taught from this style of parenting tend to have low self-esteem, lack of self-control, and do poorly in school. These children will have difficulty in society associating with their peers and creating healthy relationships. Uninvolved parenting Uninvolved parenting ranks lowest of all life domains. This style of parenting makes few demands and communicates very little with little responsiveness. Uninvolved parents are detached from the lives of their children other than fulfilling basic needs and there are some instances in which the parents even neglect those. These children often feel rejected and lack in self-control, self-esteem, and rank less competent than the rest of their peers (Cherry, 2011). The way our children show respect, obedience, and discipline is created by the style a parent teaches his or her child. The nurturing support and love we provide is crucial to the development of our children and provide the means of our children being happy and healthy. Those children who learn better probably have a secure family life and supportive environment that will allow mistakes to be made from which children learn from without judgment being passed. By creating such a positive environment our children can explore, and we help to create those positive influences that allow children to succeed. Childhood Education and How it Influences Cognitive Development Childhood education is those activities and experiences created by educational programs and strategies intended to effect developmental changes in children. However, it begins in the home at an early age. As parents, we begin by being supportive of our child’s abilities while making sure that he or she is making all the necessary connections. Parents should be reading and singing as well as pointing out objects located in one’s environment and developing conversations with our children that builds on vocabulary. Allowing children to draw or color allows them to be expressive and gain that hand-eye coordination. Childcare givers also increase the benefits of our children’s development with giving them more conversation and interacting with other children. This type of setting allows them to try diverse activities and allows them to visit new places. In doing so, this will help to increase their thinking skills and teach them to follow directions. From this point, our children go into the pre-k programs and kindergarten. In general, children engage in much pretend play, thus building on cognitive skills by allowing the children to read others intentions, encouraging social interaction and helping them to distinguish between genuine and imaginary. This allows children to take on a social role representing reality through make believe. This stimulates the child’s ability to think for him or herself. Therefore, childhood play contributes to human development and allows the child to express by pretending social roles. Conclusion In conclusion, children continue to grow and learn as they move from infancy to toddler, and to school age. However, it is not just the physical aspects, but the cognitive aspects of thinking, imaginative play as well as language maturity. A child’s emotional, social, moral, and sexual factors are growing as well. In knowing those factors, one will obtain a better understanding about the importance of family influences, parenting styles, and childhood education. However, to understand these influences are not the only factors in the development of our children. The key is to apply practical everyday knowledge in how we care for our children and what it takes to meet their needs.