Preschool children ages 3 - 5:
Cognitive development refers to the acquisition and use of thinking skills. It a child’s
increasing ability to think and reason, they are active participants in the learning process,
they are learning how to learn. Like scientists preschool children are curious about what
they observe, they ask questions, make predictions about what will happen and test their
ideas, they recall past experiences and apply what they know to new situations in order to
understand them. They are interested in cause and effect, sometimes they make
connections between what they have observed and what they have experienced even
though the ideas put together are not related. “ today we are having fish for lunch
because the teacher is late. Whenever the teacher is late we have fish”. According to
Jean Piaget, children this age are in what he called, preoperational stage and are
egocentric. It doesn’t mean they’re self fish or focused only on themselves, they believe
that everyone sees the world the way that they do, leaving no room for the perspectives of
others. For example, a child will sometimes cover their eyes so that they cannot see
someone and make the assumption that the other person now cannot see them either.
They believe your thoughts are just like theirs. Cognitive skills also include
mathematical thinking. For example, preschool children can sort objects and explain how
they classified them : “these are all red and the other pile is blue” Mathematics is a way
of thinking about and organizing information. It involves finding order, quantifying,
comparing objects recognizing patterns, seeing relationships, making predictions and
solving problems. It uses special language: more, less, equal the same and so on. One
might hear preschoolers often say things such as, “he has more cars than I do”, I can run faster than you”, “we have the same”. Children make sense of information by focusing
on one feature of an object at a time, they do not necessarily judge things by what is
logical to an adult. A major indicator of this stage is called conservation, or the ability to
understand that quantity does not change just because shape changes. For example, if you
were to pour the same quantity of liquid into two separate glasses, one short and wide and
the other tall and thin, younger children would insist that the taller glass holds more.
Children who have mastered the concept of conservation would be able to understand that
the quantities are identical. Piaget explained that the child's inability to yet grasp the
concept is due to their capacity to focus on only one aspect of a problem at a time
(centration), their tendency to take things at face value (appearance), and the fact that they
see something only in its current condition (state). They cannot yet understand that the
wider with of the short glass compensates for the height of the taller one. It is important
to understand that preschool children are literal thinkers. Preschool children think in
concrete terms, therefore, they need concrete experiences in the learning environment.
They have a special need to experiment and discover things that can be related to their
own experiences and the world around them. Expression through movement and music is
necessary for growth. Dramatic and rhythmic activities are especially appropriate for
these age group.
Activities I can include in my program to enhance Cognitive Development:
Beyond the ability to string beads or pasta, the activity is now about making jewelry.
Children can end up with a necklace and/or a bracelet to wear. These can be made out of
store-bought beads, the home equivalent of plain pasta, or pasta dipped in food coloring. Patterns can be part of this activity, either with...
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