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Chapter Nine . The Play Years: Cognitive Development. How Young Children Think: Piaget and Vygotsky. Piaget — believed young children were limited by their egocentric perspective Vygotsky —recognized how social context helps shape cognitive development. Piaget: Preoperational Thought.

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Chapter Nine

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chapter nine

Chapter Nine

The Play Years:

Cognitive Development

how young children think piaget and vygotsky
How Young Children Think: Piaget and Vygotsky
  • Piaget — believed young children were limited by their egocentric perspective
  • Vygotsky —recognized how social context helps shape cognitive development
piaget preoperational thought
Piaget: Preoperational Thought
  • Ages 2 to 6
  • Centration — tendency to focus on one aspect of a situation
    • Egocentrism or ego-centration
  • Focus on appearance — ignores all attributes except appearance
  • Static reasoning — assumes the world is unchanging
  • Irreversibility — fails to recognize that reversing a process can restore whatever existed before transformation
conservation and logic
Conservation and Logic

Conservation — principle that amount of substance is unaffected by changes in appearance

applied to liquids, numbers, matter, length

understanding develops after age 7, and then slowly and unevenly

vygotsky children as apprentices
Vygotsky: Children as Apprentices

One Theory

theory-theory - the idea that children attempt to construct a theory to explain everything they see and hear

Children efforts are embedded in social context

Apprentice in thinking — child whose intellectual growth is stimulated and directed by older people

Guided participation — social experience and exploration with a mentor


Scaffolding — sensitive structuring of child’s participation in learning encounters

Zone of proximal development (ZPD) — skills too difficult for child to perform alone but that can be performed with guidance and assistance of adults or more skilled children

Private speech —when people talk to themselves and new ideas are developed and reinforced

Social mediation — use of speech to bridge gap between child’s current understanding and what is almost understood

theory of mind
Theory of Mind

Personal understanding of human mental processes

Sudden understanding that mental phenomena may not reflect reality

Contextual Influences:

Brain maturation (prefrontal cortex)

General language ability

An older sibling

Culture that anticipates the future


Emergent literacy—skills needed to learn to read

Is early childhood a sensitive or a critical period for language development?


2 to 6 olds learn average of 10 words per day

Fast mapping — speedy and not precise way a child assimilates new words by mentally “charting” them into interconnected categories

Grammar includes the structures, techniques, and rules used to communicate meaning

Overregularization - apply a rule when they should not

learning two languages
Learning Two Languages

Two points of view

bilingualism is an asset, even a necessity,

child should become proficient in own 1st language

Best solution: children become “balanced bilinguals,” fluent in 2 languages

early childhood education
Early Childhood Education

Montessori Schools - structured, individualized projects (originally for poor children)


use a Piaget-inspired model that allows children to discover at their own pace

Readiness Programs

Alternative programs stress academic readiness

reggio emilia

children encouraged to master skills not normally seen until age 7

artistic expression, exploration of the environment, and collaboration between parents and teachers encouraged

research and applications
Head Start

Program for ages 3 to 5 from low-income or minority homes

Seems to have long-term benefit

What is high-quality education?

safety, adequate space, and equipment

low adult-to-child ratio

trained staff

curriculum geared to cognitive development

learning includes creative/constructive play

Research and Applications