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CHAPTER 10. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGES Piaget’s Preoperational Stage – approximately two to seven years of age – operations are internalized sets of actions that are highly organized and conform to certain rules and principles of logic.

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chapter 10




COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGESPiaget’s Preoperational Stage – approximately two to seven years of age – operations are internalized sets of actions that are highly organized and conform to certain rules and principles of logic.

Symbolic Function Sub-stage – two to four years of age – where the child gains the ability to represent an object mentally that is not present.
    • Egocentrism – feature of preoperational though where child is unable to distinguish between one’s own perspective and that of others.
    • Animism – second feature of preoperational thought where child has belief that inanimate objects have “lifelike” qualities.
Intuitive Thought Sub-stage – four to seven years of age – where children begin to use primitive reasoning and have many questions; this stage is characterized by a child’s assuredness that she is correct in her thinking.
    • Centration – a focusing of attention on one characteristic to the exclusion of all others.
    • Conservation – the preoperational child has a lack of conservation in that he feels an amount becomes larger or smaller when it is manipulated.
vygotsky s theory of development described in three basic principles
Vygotsky’s Theory of Development – described in three basic principles:
  • Child’s cognitive skills are understood only when developmentally analyzed.
  • Cognitive skills are mediated by words and language, which facilitate mental activity.
  • Cognitive skills originate in sociocultural background of the child.
Zone of proximal development (ZPD) – range of tasks beyond the mastery of the child but that are learned with guidance.
  • Scaffolding – consistently adjusting the amount of guidance to match the student’s performance level.
  • Language and thought – Language issued for self-regulation and is called inner speech, is considered an important tool of thought in each childhood.
  • Teaching strategies based on Vygotsky’s theory – Child is challenged through use of ZPD and scaffolding to bring her to higher levels of performance. Learning should be with skilled peers and teachers who monitor the child’s use of private speech and assess her ZPD, not her IQ.
  • Evaluation and comparing Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theories – Piaget considers inner speech to reflect immaturity, not a tool in development. Vygotsky is a social constructivist while Piaget rejects the impact of social influence and believes children construct knowledge through transforming and organizing prior knowledge.

Information Processing – Memory plays a key role in cognitive development.

  • Attention – In early childhood, a moving away fro habituation and dishabituation toward selective attention – focusing on a specific aspect of experience while ignoring others.
    • Control of attention – Preschool children begin to focus their attention specifically (on television, for example) versus toddlers who wander their attention.
    • Salient versus relevant dimensions – From preschool year to age six to seven there is a gradual shift toward attending to relevant aspects versus those that stand out and are flashy when solving a problem.
    • Planfulness – A focus on detain when making comparisons is found as children grow older.
    • Adjusting attention – A child’s ability to change the rate of attention when confronting easy to difficult material (i.e., reading).
    • Knowledge of attention – Preschool versus older children do not seem to have control over how to focus on a subject in order to remember it.
expectant parents


Confirming the pregnancy – Fetal life begins with the fertilization of the ovum, with pregnancy length calculated from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period.

The Three Trimesters: First – initial three months when prenatal organ systems are formed – physical and emotional adjustment for the mother; Second – middle months, continued growth of fetus, mother’s physical adjustment to the change; Third – uterus expands, some leg problems with blood flow, physically exhausting.


The Expectant mother’s nutrition, weight gain, and exercise are monitored for her health and that of her baby. Weight gain should be between 2.2 pounds per month and 6.6 (excessive). Appropriate levels of vitamins and adequate exercise all contribute to a healthy balance.

Culture and Prenatal care are also considerations that affect the fetus. Industrial countries generally have lower numbers of low-birthweight babies, with the United States at 7 percent; however, this is higher among African-American infants.

Cultural beliefs also impact prenatal care – In India midwives play a large role in the birthing process. Other cultures rely on ancient medicinal practices and/or strong familial cooperation.