In early learning environments, children acquire knowledge and develop cognitive, social and emotional, physical and language acquisition skills in the content areas such as language arts, math, science, and social studies in a variety of ways. It is up to the teachers to plan and implement in-depth studies of themes and topics that are meaningful and relevant to the children, being sure to address the development of the whole child while integrating all of the content areas.
In the physical classroom the environment should provide students with hands-on opportunities to grow and develop skills, gain knowledge, and have fun as they explore carefully designed learning centers. They should be provided with materials that are related to creative arts, dramatic play, manipulative toys/blocks/puzzles, sensory experiences, and listening and reading opportunity. Daily routines starting with taking attendance, calendar and weather time, and snack time also provide daily exposure and practice of skills and knowledge.
Piaget's Theory: An Overview Piaget's stage theory of cognitive development is a stage theory and it proposes that, in the development of our thinking, we go through an orderly and predictable series of stages. Stage theories have been applied to many other aspects of human behavior as well -notably to the development of personality. This ongoing that keeps us advancing from stage to stage and adjusting is the process called adaptation. Adaptation occurs in two ways.
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First, there is assimilation, which occurs when we incorporate new information into existing mental structures that would cause a child to shake a new guitar like a rattle as they have other toys. When it does not work out the way they expect, accommodation must be made. THE SENSORIMOTOR STAGE: LEARNING TO REPRESENT THE WORLD INTERNALLY The first of Piaget's stages lasts from birth until between 18 and 24 months. During this period -the sensorimotor stage can be divided into sub-stages.
Throughout this period, infants know the world through motor activities ... and sensory impressions and have not yet learned to use mental representations or images to represent objects or events. Generally for these infants, it is "out of sight, out of mind. " Between eight or nine months of age things will begin to change. Infants of this age will begin to search for the objects that have been hidden. They have developed object permanence –they know that objects will still exist even though they aren’t seen.
THE PREOPERATIONAL STAGE: GROWTH OF SYMBOLIC ACTIVITY Some time between the ages of 18 and 24 months, According to Piaget, children develop the ability to form mental representations of objects and events. At the same time, language develops, as well as the beginning of thinking in words. These developments mark the transition into the preoperational stage. During this stage, which lasts up until about age seven, children are capable of doing many task they could not perform earlier. For example, they begin make-believe play which includes enacting familiar routines.
In order to create play, they must represent these activities mentally and translate them into actions. While the thinking of preoperational children is more advanced, Piaget emphasizes that children at this stage of cognitive development are still immature and are limited by egocentrism. They are all about self and perceive the world based on their own assumptions and experiences, they have difficulty relating to differences such as lighter, smaller, and softer. Further, they lack seriation which is the ability to arrange objects in order from the smallest to the largest.
Last but not least and perhaps most important, they lack conservation which is the understanding that the physical attributes of an object remain unchanged even though their appearance has. THE STAGE OF CONCRETE OPERATIONS: THE EMERGENCE OF LOGICAL THOUGHT By the time they are six or seven, most children have picked up on an understanding of how conservation works. Piaget implies that this marks the beginning of the third major stage of cognitive development which is the stage of concrete operations.
During this stage up until about the age of eleven, many important cognitive skills emerge as children gain an understanding of relational terms. They begin to understand reversibility, the fact that many physical changes can be undone by reversing the original action. They also begin to categorize and use logical thinking. THE STAGE OF FORMAL OPERATIONS: DEALING WITH ABSTRACTION AS WELL AS [CONCRETE] REALITY At about the age of twelve, Piaget suggests, most children enter the final stage of cognitive development, the stage of formal operations which involves more adult like thinking.
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