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Chapter 9 Early Childhood: Cognitive Development. Jean Piaget’s Preoperational Stage. How Do Children in the Preoperational Stage Think and Behave?. Symbolic thought and play Pretend play 12-13 months – familiar activities; i.e. feed themselves

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How Do Children in the Preoperational Stage Think and Behave?

  • Symbolic thought and play
  • Pretend play
    • 12-13 months – familiar activities; i.e. feed themselves
    • 15-20 months – focus on others; i.e. feed doll
    • 30 months – others take active role; i.e. doll feeds itself
  • Imaginary Friends
    • More common among first-born and only children

How Do We Characterize the Logic of the Preoperational Child?

  • Lack of logical operations
    • No flexible or reversible mental operations
  • Egocentrism
    • Only view the world through their own perspective
    • Three-mountain test

How Do We Characterize the Logic of the Preoperational Child?

  • Causality
    • Influenced by egocentrism
      • Caused by will
    • Precausal thinking
      • Transductive reasoning
      • Animism
      • Artificialism
  • Confusion between mental and physical phenomena
    • Believe their thoughts reflect external reality
    • Believe dreams are true

What is Conservation?

  • Properties remain the same even if you change the shape or arrangement
  • Preoperational children fail to demonstrate conservation
    • Centration
    • Irreversibility

What is Class Inclusion?

  • Including new objects/categories in broader mental classes
    • Requires child focus on more than one aspect of situation at once

Evaluation of Piaget

  • Piaget underestimated preschoolers abilities
    • Three-mountain test
      • Errors attributed to demands on child and language development
    • Causality
      • Logical understanding appears more sophisticated
    • Conservation
      • Approach may mislead child

What Are Some of the Factors That Influence Cognitive Development in Early Childhood?

  • Scaffolding
  • Zone of Proximal Development
    • Sorting doll furniture into appropriate rooms (Freund, 1990)
    • Retell a story viewed on videotape (Clarke-Stewart & Beck, 1999)
    • Recall of task completed in longitudinal study (Haden, et al., 2001)

The Effect of the Home Environment

  • Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment
    • Observe parent-child interaction in the home
    • Predictor of IQ scores
  • Parental responsiveness, stimulation, independence
    • Connected with higher IQ and school achievement

The Effect of Early Childhood Education

  • Preschool enrichment programs for children of poverty
    • Designed to increase school readiness
      • Enhance cognitive development
      • Parental involvement
      • Provide health care and social services to children and families
    • Programs have shown benefits
      • Positive influence on IQ scores
      • Better graduation rates
      • Less likely to be delinquent, unemployed or on welfare

The Effect of Early Childhood Education

  • Preschool enrichment for middle class children
    • High parental academic expectations
      • Increased preschool academic skills (until kindergarten!)
      • Children less creative,
      • More anxious and
      • Think less positively about school

The Effect of Television on Cognitive Development

  • Contradictory evidence
    • Sesame Street – most successful educational tv show
      • Regular viewing = increased skill in numbers, letters, sorting, classification
      • Positive impact on vocabulary
    • Impulse control
      • Heavy tv viewing negatively effects impulse control
      • Exposure to educational tv may have positive effect
  • Commercials
  • Couch-Potato Effects
a closer look

A Closer Look

Helping Children Use

Television Wisely

theory of mind

Theory of Mind

What Is A Mind?

How Does It Work?


What Are Children’s Ideas About How the Mind Works?

  • Theory of Mind
    • Understanding of how the mind works
  • Preschool-aged children
    • Predict and explain behavior and emotion by mental states’
    • Beginning to understand source of knowledge
    • Elementary ability to distinguish appearance from reality

Do Children Understand Where Their Knowledge Comes From?

  • Ability to separate beliefs from another who has false knowledge of a situation.
  • Ability to deceive
  • Evident by age 4, sometimes even at age 3
development of memory

Development of Memory

Creating Files and

Retrieving Them


What Sort of Memory Skills Do Children Possess in Early Childhood?

  • Recognition
    • Indicate whether items has been seen before
  • Recall
    • Reproduce material without any cues
  • Preschool children
    • Recognize more than they recall

Competence of Memory in Early Childhood

  • Best for meaningful and familiar events
    • Details are often omitted
    • Unusual events have more detail
  • Scripts – abstract, generalized accounts of repeated events
    • Formed after one experience
    • Become more elaborate with repetition
  • Autobiographical memory
    • Linked to development of language skills

What Factors Affect Memory in Early Childhood?

  • Types of Memory
    • Remember activities more than objects
    • Remember sequenced events better
  • Interest Level
    • Individual interest and motivation
  • Retrieval Cues
    • Younger children depend on retrieval cues from adults
    • Parental elaboration improves child’s memory
  • Types of Measurement
    • Younger children are limited in measurement by use of verbal reports

How Do We Remember to Remember?

  • Strategies for remembering
    • Rehearsal, organizing, mentally grouping
      • Not used extensively until age 5
    • Concrete memory aids used by young children
      • Pointing, looking, touching
language development

Language Development

Why “Daddy Goed Away”


What Language Developments Occur During Early Childhood?

  • Development of Vocabulary
    • Fast-mapping
      • Quickly attach new word to appropriate concept
    • Whole-object assumption
      • Assume words refer to whole objects, not parts or characteristics
    • Contrast assumption
      • Assume objects have only one label

What Language Developments Occur During Early Childhood?

  • Development of Grammar
    • Expand telegraphic speech
      • Include articles, conjunctions and possessive adjectives
    • Overregularization
      • Strict application of grammar rules
      • Represents advances in syntax

What Language Developments Occur During Early Childhood?

  • Development of Grammar
    • Questions
      • First questions are telegraphic with rising pitch at the end
      • Later incorporate why questions
    • Passive Sentences
      • Young children have difficulty understanding passive sentences
      • Do not use passive sentences
  • Pragmatics
    • Adjust speech to fit the social situation
    • Between 3- and 5-years, develop more pragmatic skills
      • Represents the ability to comprehend other perspectives

What Is The Relationship Between Language and Cognition

  • Cognitive development precedes language development
    • Piaget: understand concept then describe it
    • Vocabulary explosion (18-months) related to categorization
  • Language development precedes cognitive development
    • Create cognitive classes for objects labeled by words

Interactionist View: Outer and Inner Speech

  • Lev Vygotsky
    • During first year vocalizations and thoughts are separate
    • During second year thought and language combine
      • Children discover objects have labels
      • Learning labels becomes more self-directed
  • Inner speech
    • Initially children’s thought are spoken aloud
    • Eventually language becomes internalized
    • Language functions as self-regulative