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ECD 1404

Theorist research paper


Piaget's stages of cognitive development theory
Lisi Yu
4/2/2013

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Yu 2 Piaget's stages of cognitive development theory The foundations of early childhood education developed from 1500-1700AD, and following that there were a lot of theorists who proposed their great theories; all of these great theories have impacted our early childhood education nowadays. There is one psychologist that I like and agree with, Jean Piaget. He was one of the most influential psychologists in the world today. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was born on August 9, 1896, in Neuchatel Switzerland. His mother, Rebecca Jackson, was a Calvinist and caregiver to the family. And his father, Arthur Piaget, was a university professor of medieval literature. Piaget was the oldest son in their family. He developed a passion for the study of nature since his early age. At just 10 years old, Piagets fascination with mollusks drew him to the local museum of natural history, where he stared at specimens for hours on end(Jean Piagets biography). Moreover, Piaget was known as child prodigy because he published a short paper about an albino sparrow sighting when he was eleven years old. During studying in University of Neuchatel, he was full of interest in philosophy, biology, psychology, and logic. He believed that the convergence of biology and philosophy are a shortcut to the epistemological. Piaget made a lot of contributions to psychology and education. I believe in Jean Piagets cognitive development theory which explains how children think, understand, and learn; this theory includes three developmental stages which are, sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, and concrete operations stage. Piagets cognitive theory impacts the ways that we think and teach our young children today. The textbook mentions The National Association for the Education of Young Children believes, as Piaget believed, that children are thinking, moving, feeling, and

Yu 3 interacting human beings. As such, developmentally, appropriate practice involves considering and fostering childrens cognitive development (Morrison 130). During the class of Early Childhood Development 1414, I have learned about Active Learning, and it is the basic concept of Piagets theory. Active learning has five essential ingredientsmaterials, manipulation, choice, language form children, and support from adults. Active learning has the view that children develop knowledge and learn by being physically and mentally engaged in learning activities (129). Furthermore, active learning is the central principles of the High/Scope preschool curriculum. When I observed in a high/scope preschool program, I saw preschool teachers prepare different materials for children to choose from to manipulate, and they create activities for children to play. They are also give children support while children are playing. Piaget said, Knowledge arises neither from objects nor the child, but form interactions between the child and those objects (Mary Hohmann, David P. Weikart, and Ann S. Epstein 15). The active learning concept helps me understand how young children learn better. Based on Piagets long-term for observation and study of children, he believes that the cognitive developments of children are required to go though the following three stages. The first one is sensotimotor stage, which begins at birth to about two years old. Sensorimotor stage means infant toddlers use their senses to understand and build their knowledge of the world around them. According to George S. Morrison, During this period children use their senses and motor reflexes seeing, sucking, and grasping to build schemes. Also, children solve problems by playing with toys and using everyday tools such as a spoon to learn to feed themselves(Morrison 132). The characteristics of this stage show how

Yu 4 infant toddlers learn, and it will help me to give the right support for teaching infant toddlers in preschool. The second stage is preoperational, and the period of preoperational begins at age two to age seven. This stage has concepts which are representation, conservation, and egocentrism. During this period, children are able to use symbols like language, pictures, books, drawing, or playing to represent objects and events. In addition, Piagets conservation tasks, which include in number, length, mass, liquid, and weight, show children believe and act as though everything happens for a specific reason or purpose. Here is an example: If you show preoperational children two identical rows of coins that both have six and ask whether each row has the same number of coins, the children should answer affirmatively. If you then space out the coins in one row and ask whether the rows still have the same number of coins, they might insist that more coins are in one row because its longer(132). This example shows us children in preoperational period are not able to reverse thought and action. Furthermore, Piaget believes that preoperational children are egocentric. They have hard time putting themselves in another s place, and it is difficult for them to be sympathetic and empathetic (133). One time in my class, I asked Zane, who was a five year old male child, to draw six windows in the house template to review the number six in Chinese, and he drew six windows on the buttom part of the house. When I asked why the windows were down there, he said: so that I can see outside. After I learned this stage, I totally understood why childrens thoughts and actions are different from adults. The third stage is concrete operations the stage of cognitive development during

Yu 5 which childrens thought is logical and can organize concrete experience (134). Children in this period from age seven to age seventeen, begin to understand why things happen and how things work, and they can do reverse thinking. Even though the three different stages have their main features of cognitive development, cognitive developments of all children are developed in the same order. Piaget believed that these three stages of development are sequential, and each stage is the basis for latter development stages. None of these stages can be skipped. However, the speed of every childs the development and growth maybe different due to their personal or cultural background. Piagets cognitive theory was very influential, and his developmental stages are applied to lots of early childhood education. During my observation in a High/Scope program, I saw classrooms and curriculums that were designed differently according to the childrens stages, such as classroom design; the sands and water table which in the preschool classroom is higher than the one that is in infant toddler s classroom. Piagets cognitive theory has presented an important role in guiding early childhood education. This theory teaches me that early childhood education should allow children to take the initiative to get knowledge by playing with the activities which they are interested in, and these activities should range from easy to difficult. Therefore, teaching must adapt to the students' cognitive development. Basic on Piagets theory, children learn through play. When children play, they learn critical thinking and social skills. As Stone states, Children of all ages develop cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically though play. Play enriches the thinking of children and provides them with opportunities to create, invent, reason and problem solve (Stone 1). For me, I see how children keep learning by playing. They show how they feel, what they think, and what

Yu 6 they know through manipulating and playing with materials or other children. During my observation, I saw a child playing with wood blocks, and he told me that he was building a house. Also, a child wanted to put a shirt on a baby doll, and she tried again and again to buckle the buttons, and finally she did it. So I believe in Piagets cognitive levels of play. It shows me playing is the basic principle and method for childrens development, and it will direct me to create high quality activities in my preschool curriculum. Nowadays, many preschool programs and professionals use Piagets theory as a basis for creating curriculum and guiding program development. Stone mentions that Integrating play into the curriculum first requires an understanding that play is valuable, that children learn through play, and, therefore, that play can be beneficial component of the curriculum across the grades(1). I teach Chinese in a language program for children which are range in age from one to ten, and the program also use play-based methods for teaching foreign its language curriculum. It works very well for children to acquire a second language by playing games that encourage their language production. At this point, I totally understand that play is essential for childrens learning. Additionally, Piagets cognitive theory of play guides me on my way of teaching and informs my professional practice in creative preschool program. In conclusion, learning Piagets theories about active learning and the three stages of cognitive development, I now understand how children learn and develop when they are at different ages; his theories provide a lot of information for how I should be a preschool professional by giving the right support to different levels of children. Also, his theories will help me communicate with a childrens family or parents better because the theories will help

Yu 7 me to explain how children learn, and explain why some behaviors happen in a childs certain age, so that I can give parents suggestions for helping their children develop better. Moreover, I think I will educate my own children better by using his theories in my future motherhood. I would like to suggest all the parents read Piagets theories if they get a chance because that will help them understand what their children think or want in order to educate them better. For myself, I believe that children learn best when they are taught under certain conditions and in certain ways. These include a secure environment, a good quality play-based curriculum, and supportive teachers. As Jean Piaget said: Childrens minds, if planted in fertile soil, will grow quite naturally on their own (Morrison 127). I will use Piagets theories for teaching, and my own instruction and teaching theories will be based on his theories. I will try my best to be a high quality early childhood professional and guide the young children, support and be proud of them, and help them to explore their creative potentials.

Works Cited George S. Morrison. Early Childhood Education Today. Twelfth ed. Boston: Person Education,Inc, 2012. Print. "Jean Piaget." 2013. The Biography Channel website. Mar13 2013, 03:21 <http://www.biography.com/people/jean-piaget-9439915>. Mary Hohmann, David P. Weikart, and Ann S. Epstein. Educating Young Children. 3rd ed. Michigan: High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 2008. Print.

Yu 8 Stone, Sandra J. "Integrating play into the curriculum." Childhood Education 72.2 (1995): 104+. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Mar. 2013.