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Jean Piaget is a psychologist, and was born in the year 1896, in Switzerland. Piaget had an interest on the developmental stages of children, and came to a conclusion that children thought differently from adults. Basing on this finding, Jean Piaget developed a stage theory that defines and describes the cognitive development of children (Kock, 2006). In Piagets view, cognitive development refers the changes depicted in children, during their cognitive process, and the abilities they acquire.
Piaget observes that cognitive development begins with actions a child takes, and later on translates into the mind of the child. Piaget observes that the mental development of a child is influenced by the biological make-up of the child, and the environmental experience the child passes through (Phillips, 1975). These experiences make a child to construct an understanding of nature, upon his mind. Piaget Observes that every human being must pass through the process of cognitive development, and language plays an important role during this process (Kock, 2006).
In developing the stage theory, Piaget analyzes the concepts of operative and figurative intelligence. The theory states that for any transformation or static reality of life to take place, the human mind must represent an element of adaptivity (Altmann, 2006). Transformation refers to the various changes that a child passes through during the process of cognitive development. Static reality refers to the elements in a child's development that do not change. On this basis, the theory denotes that operative intelligence represents and manipulates the various transformative stages of a child.
Operative intelligence involves actions taken for purposes of recovering, anticipating and following the transformations of a child. Figurative intelligence is static, and it concerns itself with the drawings, languages and perception of a child during his/her development process (Kock, 2006). In view of this, figurative intelligence directly corresponds with operative intelligence because it develops the meanings of the events during the process of cognitive development from operative development.
From the theory, Piaget identifies four stages of development within a child, namely, sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operations and formal operations. The sensorimotor stage consists of a child who is born to the age of 2 years (Hopkins, 2005). At this stage, the child constructs an image of himself, and the nature of events.
The child does this by interacting with the environment. The child develops skills on how to differentiate various objects, and himself. The child learns through the process of assimilation and accommodation (Phillips, 1985). The second stage is the Pre-operational stage.
This covers the ages of 2 to 4 years. At this age, the child does not have the ability to construct images effectively, and accurately. Basing on this, the child needs physical images, as this will help his mind to construct the image. The third stage is the concrete operational stage. This covers the ages of 7 to 11 years. At this age, a child's experiences with nature increases, and he/she begins to think and conceptualize ideas (Hopkins, 2005).
The child develops skill that will help him develop logical structures, and thus gaining the ability to interpret the experiences he/she passes through. The fourth and the last stage depicted in the stage theory is the formal operational stage. This covers the ages of 11 to 15 years, and according to the theory, cognitive development reaches a final stage (Altmann, 2006). The child develops an ability of making hypothetical and deductive decisions. The child's ability to think is similar to that of an adult, and does not require physical evidence for purposes of making rational judgments or conclusions.
From the theory, there are three main concepts, namely schema's, assimilation and accommodation. Schemas refer to a description of the mental, and the physical activities depicted during the process which will result to the child acquiring knowledge. It is a group of knowledge that enables a person to interpret and understand the occurrences in their environment (Altmann, 2006).
From the stage theory, a schema includes a group of knowledge, and the methodologies involved in acquiring the knowledge. When the child passes through experience, the knowledge acquired solidifies, and it replaces existing knowledge (Hendrick et al, 2006). Assimilation refers to the process of taking in new information, in reference to an existing schema. Accommodation refers to the process of changing the existing information, and schema. It is during this process that a new schema is developed.
In view to these concepts, the stage theory observes that children strike a balance between acquiring new information, and replacing the old information (Kock, 2006). This process of striking a balance between assimilation, and accommodation is referred to as equilibration.
The Developmental Characteristics of a Pre-Scholar:
A pre-Scholar falls under the category of a three year old child. There are four aspects of developmental categories of children under this age, and they are, emotional, language, physical and cognitive development. In physical development, the child shows some characteristics of jumping, skipping, and hopping (Altmann, 2006). The child tries to maintain a balance of himself, by using his toes, and walking on a tiptoe. He rides a tricycle, plays with a ball, and learns on how to make a bridge by using three blocks.
The child takes an interest on pictures, and draws recognizable pictures. He learns on how to use scissors, and cuts objects using scissors. He gets the ability of using a spoon, and a fork, but imperfectly. These physical characteristics of a child are attributed to a preschooler (Hopkins, 2005). There are language developmental milestones/ characteristics. In language, a child gets the ability to communicate by using three to five words.
The child communicates to others on what they should do, and has the ability to make a comment. He communicates by use of broken sentences of four to five words. He has the ability to remember an event, and he comments on them. The child can develop a story, and communicate it (Hendrick et al, 2006). He also listens to the stories of other people, and he can remember the fables, and retell them to other people. The child reads likes reading books that narrate real issues, and easily believes them. It is at this stage that the child learns to communicate by using real and understandable words.
The child also passes through the social and emotional development milestone. At this stage, the child acquires the ability to imitate an adult. He does exactly what an adult does, and is able to remember the action (Hendrick et al, 2006). The child is mostly likely to experiences feelings of discomfort, and when this happens, the child behaves like a toddler. It is during this stage that the child shows some characteristics of isolation, as he prefers to play alone. He can resort to playing with his age mates, but only for a short period of time. When with other children, the child may resort to playing alongside them, but does not involve himself into their activities (Altmann, 2006). This characteristic is termed as the parallel play.
The cognitive development milestone is characterized by the questions the child asks. The child asks questions that reflect the notion of "what". An example of such kind of a question is, "What is this?". The child can ask this question if he encounters a foreign object (Hopkins, 2005). The child is skillful in sorting and matching words, and has the ability of counting numbers.
He has the ability of solving a simple five word puzzle, and can pretend that he is doing an event, for purposes of fooling an adult (Altmann, 2006). The child is able to understand the notions of now, and soon. He cannot understand the concepts of tomorrow, or even next week. In other words the focus of the child's mind is on the current events, and not future events.
Physical layout of classroom for Pre-Scholars that aligns with Piaget's Stage Theory:
Shelve 2 Shelve 3
Table 2 Table 1
Shelve 1 contains simple books that children will need to read. At this stage, a child has the ability to read and understand simple text. He is concerned with stories, and therefore this shelf must contain such books. According to Pieget, at this stage, a child is able to construct images clearly (Hendrick et al, 2006). These books must have images, and simple text.
Shelve 2: Shelve 2 contains physical objects such as balls and other toys. At this stage, the child develops the ability to play with a ball, or related toys. The child learns to make bridges using a brick, and can ride a tricle cycle. Shelve 2 must have these facilities.
Shelve three must contain materials such as papers, crayons and other writing materials. The child has the ability to draw simple pictures, and is interested in drawings. The child will use pencils and crayons for drawing, and paper is a medium (Altmann, 2006).
Table 1 and Chair:
This is where a teacher will sit, while guiding the children.
Table 2 and Chair:
This is a place where children will sit for the purposes of learning or reading a book. This is because a teacher must teach these children on how to read, because they have the capability of constructing a simple sentence of four to five words.
This is a place where children can play, for instance they can use the table as a supporting ground when they try to develop objects by using bricks.
Explanation of how the activities enhance development and their application to the Pieget's Theory:
When a child reads a book, the child is able to develop an interactional context that gives him/her the ability to nourish his language. Reading a book enables a child to foster his language, and improve his successes of using the language during his stages of development (Hopkins, 2005). Reading a book enable a child to foster his language development, because he will encounter words that were previously unknown to them.
This early learning system, will give a child the ability to gain conceptual and social skills that will play a role in building their linguistic capacity. This will play a role in future years by making language application easier to the developed children.
Playing with toys and balls enhances the physical development of a child. Playing with these instruments enables a child to develop fine motor skills. For instance playing with a ball enables a child to stretch their hands (Kock, 2006). This leads to the development of the hand because of the movement of the hand muscles. The drawing activities are also an essential part of promoting the development of a child's hands. This is because he uses fingers, to direct the pencil, and this causes the movements of muscles concentrated on his hands. When a child draws an image, he develops his brain (Altmann, 2006). This is because he has the ability to construe an image, and put it on paper. This results to the development of the mental ability of the child.
Application to the Piaget Theory:
According to Piaget's stage theory, a child of three years is not able to construct images effectively, and accurately. Therefore while developing a physical facility for their education, it is important to have physical images of items a person wants to educate the child on. On the drawing, shelve number will consist of toys, balls and other physical objects that the child can look at, and construct images on.
The books on the shelves must be simple, and contain pictures. This will be an effective way of teaching the child, because he will acquire the ability to construe the images on his mind. In his theory, Piaget observes that development begins with the actions a child takes (Hendrick et al, 2006). These actions will then translate into the mind of the child. From the physical architecture of a preschooler classroom, there is a shelf that contains papers, and drawing materials. When a child draws an image, this image will translate into the mind of the child. This will later lead to development, because later on, the child will identify the image, without the help of a teacher. This learning environment also influences the mental development of the child.
This is because there are facilities, such as toys, books, and the guidance of teacher, who will help the child pass through this developmental stage (Hendrick et al, 2006). From the theory, Piaget believes that language plays a great role in the development of a child. At the school setting, there is a shelf containing books for children to read. These books will enhance the development of the child's language.