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What's Going On In There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
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Piaget's Theory of Learning and Cognitive Development - Part II

By Andrew Loh



Piaget is possibly the one of the greatest proponents of child learning and cognitive development. In fact, child psychologists around the world recommend using this theory as a foundation for teaching cognitive techniques to children below the age of two years. Once your child reaches the age of two years, he or she will have an advanced technique to learn a series or cognitive processes that assist them to master learning both in the classroom as well as out of it.

Piaget also related these learning environments to the development of cognitive techniques. He also suggested different stages of cognitive development in a child's early life. Here are some of the different stages of cognitive development:

Sensory-motor stage: This is the first and most important stage of cognitive development in your child's life. It happens when your child is about two years old. This technique involves the use of senses and motor abilities to relate to the world around. Reflexes and a complex combination of both sensory and motor skills will form the basic for the basic cognitive development. However, the first two years in a child life is a series of development of cognitive processes that relate to each other. In fact, these processes are very intricate and form the basis of advanced development of cognition later in the life.

Between one and four months: Your child may show a basic action of own choice that forms a stimulus to respond to the ambience around him or her. For example, your child may like to suck her or his thumb almost as an involuntary action. Your child may also feel that it is a very good action and this will propel for more actions that may include deep sucking with intermittent sounds.

Between four and twelve months: Once your child masters the basic cognitive actions, he or she will turn to other actions that help him or her to extend more to the immediate environment. Most common actions may be sucking on the shoulders, when you hold your child or it may even be a simple squeezing action on a soft toy. These actions will be repetitive and they can extend for some time as well.

Between 12 months and 24 months: By the time your child reaches her or his second birthday, things would stabilize as far as development of cognitive processes is concerned. Your child will try to use a number of variations to master cognitions. Some of the most common learning actions could be:

  • Hitting the ground with a stick

  • Hitting the drums with a stick

  • Hitting the table with a stick

These simple actions are always repetitive and they help your children to master these basic skills to perfection. All these learning process will eventually help your child to retain the image in his or her mind for a longer period. In fact, they can even remember the action they performed sometime ago and repeat it again after some time. They also learn how to use a fine combination of different cognitive techniques to solve simple problems.

The stage that helps your child to develop learning process is the preoperational stage that lasts from about two years to seven years of his or her life. By the time your child enters his or her second year, the ability to retain mental pictures would enhance rapidly. Your child will also be able to pretend things and mimic different actions, he or she will be putting the first small steps forward to use various symbols as a learning process. In essence, a symbol is a thing that signifies that there is something. Some simple examples of symbols are a picture, a written syllable and even a simple drawing of an animal or bird.

Young children are very good at creative play. Your child will start learning how to involve in a round of creative play by using fine senses of cognition and motor skills. He or she will also be able to understand and comprehend both the past and future. Some simple examples are:

Example #1: You will see your child crying for missing toy and you will say, "I will find your toys very soon". Now, your child will stop crying just because he or she will anticipate something good in the near future.

Example #2: You will see your child crying after falling down from the steps. You will ask now, "Do you remember where you fell down?" Your child will respond to your query now with a sad and quizzical face, "No".

Tip: Most growing children tend to be too egocentric and selfish. Piaget believes that this could be the result of an intensive learning process where a child will like to keep the learning process secretive.

Piaget also believes that children are children and they simply lack the ability to reason as a fully-grown adult. Hence, parents should treat their children as someone who are still trying to get a foothold in the big world. Parents can easily learn Piaget's ideas on how children learn various skills of cognition and thinking and later use them to develop their children's basic brain.

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Thinking Goes to School: Piaget's Theory in Practice
By Hans G. Furth and Harry Wachs

This book makes an excellent reading for those interested in learning more than the basic techniques of vision therapy. Some prior knowledge in psychology and the visual system is helpful, but anyone can learn from and enjoy this book. This book is older than most, but I felt that the ideas suggested and theories discussed were relevant to today's therapy.

You can adapt certain suggestions to suit today's equipment that is more modern. This book proposes to show how children can be prepared to develop their full potential as 'thinking' human beings. The activities or 'games' described provide a general foundation that should help the child to deal successfully with specific academic subjects.

 

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