Term Paper: Child Development Jean Piaget

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[. . .] It is at this age that their sense of personal competency begins to significantly develop (World Bank, 2002). Emotionally they are still ego-centric, seeing and interpreting events from their own perspectives (Huitt & Hummel, 2003).

Cognitively, they use language symbolically. Memory and imagination develop more, but thinking is pre-logical and is often magical in nature.

Early signs of the interplay between symbolic thinking and imagination might be if a child pretends that a broom is a horse (Staff writers, 2004). By age 3 or 4, children can use objects to represent other people or things, such as using a stone or stick to represent specific individuals in imaginative play (Staff writers, 2004). Children this age can begin to think through the actions they want to perform, using language, before doing them (Staff writers, 2004). Curiosity about the world increases, and interest in letters and numbers increases (World Bank, 2002). At the end of this stage, children begin to acquire reading and math skills.

Physiologically and socially the children's skills explode. Combined with emotional and cognitive developments, children can begin some simple team sports toward the end of this stage. Children develop real, solid friendships (World Bank, 2002) although they will still have difficulty seeing events from another person's point-of-view (Staff writers, 2004). It is during this period that they really learn to take turn, play cooperatively, and share (World Bank, 2002).

These facts about children's development have important implications for the classroom. Many parents have seen a child open a holiday or birthday present that was too advanced for the child, and then observed that the child plays with the box instead of the toy. Developmental stages cannot be rushed. While a Pre-Operational child may show some interest in letters and numbers, this does not mean that the child has developed sufficient memory, symbolic and language skills to be taught how to read. While a few children may be accelerated in development of those areas, the majority are not, and such development cannot be forced upon them. First come the developmental skills, and then the instruction using those skills can follow.

This means that the preschool environment will have to have a wide variety off materials available for the children's use that reflect the fact that each child will vary in what he or she is ready to do. This means that a good preschool classroom will contain, for instance, a wide variety of difficulty levels for puzzles, from simply placing one object in its cut out shape to puzzles that may require the child to put four, eight, or even more pieces together, to accommodate the development of all the children present.

Knowledge about multicultural information should be included at the preschool level. This can be done in a variety of ways including songs, games and dances from other countries, introducing the concept that objects have different names in different languages, and of course depicting people from many backgrounds and cultures in any visual materials present in the classroom (Brown University, 1994). A good preschool classroom will combine all these factors, and be equipped with books, puzzles, simple games, physical equipment, wall decorations, crayons and other art materials that all reflect the full realities of how preschool children differ emotionally, socially, physically, cognitively, and culturally.

SOURCES

Brown University. 1994. "Psychology searches for multicultural model of child development." The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter, Nov.

Huitt, W., and Hummel, J. 2003. "Stages of Cognitive Development. Piaget identified four stages in cognitive development, from Educational Psychology Interactive. January. Accessed via the Internet 5/21/04. http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/cogsys/piaget.html

Staff writers. 2004. "Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development," from What Every Parent Should know. Accessed via the Internet 5/21/04. http://www.eagle2.american.edu/~gb3107a/piaget.htm… [END OF PREVIEW]

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