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Lifespan Psychology Lecture 3.2


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Lifespan Psychology Lecture 3.2

  1. 1. Chapter 3: The Preschool Years Module 3.2 Cognitive Development in the Preschool Years
  2. 2. Piaget - Preoperational Thinking • Preoperational Stage-2-7 years • Preschool years time of stability and change - lack use of operations and organized, formal mental processes • Characterized by symbolic thinking; mental reasoning and use of concepts increase • Still not capable of operations: organized, formal, logical mental processes that characterize school age children. It is only at the end of preoperational stage that the ability to carry out operations comes into play.
  3. 3. Piaget - Preoperational Thinking • Symbolic function: – Ability to use symbols, words, or object to represent something that is not physically present • Language allows preschoolers to: – Represent actions symbolically – Think beyond present to future – Consider several possibilities at same time
  4. 4. Centration Which row has more buttons? • Centration is the process of concentrating on one limited aspect of a stimulus and ignoring other aspects. • Preschoolers are unable to consider all available information about a stimulus. Instead, they focus on superficial, obvious elements that are within their sight. These external elements come to dominate preschoolers’ thinking, leading to inaccuracy in thought.
  5. 5. Conservation (Click on the link to see the same video if you are unable to watch it in the slideshow)
  6. 6. Conservation • Conservation is the knowledge that quantity is unrelated to the arrangement and physical appearance of objects. • Because they are unable to conserve, preschoolers can’t understand that changes in one dimension (such as a change in appearance) does not necessarily mean that other dimensions (such as quantity) change. • Children who do not yet understand the principle of conservation feel quite comfortable in asserting that the amount of liquid changes as it is poured between glasses of different sizes. • They simply are unable to realize that the transformation in appearance does not imply a transformation in quantity. • The main reason is that their tendency toward conservation prevents them from focusing on the relevant features of the situation. They cannot follow the sequence of transformations that accompanies changes in the appearance of a situation. • Piaget regarded children’s development of conservation as a skill that marks the transition from the preoperational period to the next stage, concrete operations.
  7. 7. Transformation • Transformation is the process in which one state is changed into another. • Adults know that if a pencil that is held upright is allowed to fall down, it passes through a series of successive stages until it reaches its final, horizontal resting spot. • In contrast, children in the preoperational period are unable to envision or recall the successive transformations that the pencil followed in moving from the upright to the horizontal position. If asked to reproduce the sequence in a drawing, they draw the pencil upright and lying down, with nothing in between. Basically, they ignore the intermediate steps.
  8. 8. Egocentrism • Preschoolers do not understand that others have different perspectives from their own • Egocentric thought takes two forms: – Lack of awareness that others see things from a different physical perspective – Failure to realize that others may hold thoughts, feelings, and points of view that differ from their own • Egocentrism lies at heart of several types of behavior during the preoperational period. • Preschoolers may talk to themselves, even in the presence of others, and at times they simply ignore what others are telling them. Rather than being a sign of eccentricity, such behavior illustrates the egocentric nature of preoperational children’s thinking: the lack of awareness that their behavior acts as a trigger to others’ reactions and responses. • Consequently, a considerable amount of verbal behavior on the part of preschoolers has no social motivation behind it but is meant for the preschoolers’ own consumption.
  9. 9. Intuitive Thought • Curiosity blossoms and answers to wide variety of questions sought • Often act as authorities on particular topics • Leads preschoolers to believe that they know answers to all kinds of questions, but there is little or no logical basis for this confidence
  10. 10. Late Stages of Intuitive Thought • Slowly certain qualities prepare children for more sophisticated forms of reasoning – Begin to understand the notion of functionality (the idea that actions, events, and outcomes are related to one another in fixed patterns.) – Begin to show an awareness of the concept of identity (the understanding that certain things stay the same, regardless of changes in shape, size, and appearance)
  11. 11. Information Processing Approach • Changes in kinds of “mental programs” that children use when approaching problems • Changes analogous to way computer program becomes more sophisticated as a programmer modifies it on basis of experience
  12. 12. Two Approaches • Understanding numbers • Memory development
  13. 13. Understanding Numbers • Preschoolers follow a number of principles in their counting. – They know they should assign just one number to each item and that each item should be counted only once. – Preschoolers may demonstrate a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of numbers, although their understanding is not totally precise. – By age 4, most are able to carry out simple addition and subtraction problems by counting and they are able to compare different quantities quite successfully.
  14. 14. Memory • Recollections of events are sometimes, but not always, accurate – Typically accurate in responses to open-ended questions – Partly determined by how soon memories are assessed – Affected by cultural factors • Autobiographical memory – Largely inaccurate before age 3 – Not all last into later life – Memories are also affected by cultural factors. For example, Chinese college students’ memories of early childhood are more likely to be unemotional and reflect activities involving social roles, such as working in their family’s store, whereas U.S. college students’ earliest memories are more emotionally-elaborate and focus on specific events such as the birth of a sibling.
  15. 15. Vygotsky’s View of Cognitive Development • Vygotsky saw children as apprentices, learning cognitive strategies and other skills from adult and peer mentors who not only present new ways of doing things, but also provide assistance, instruction, and motivation. • Focused on the child’s social and cultural world as the source of cognitive development. • According to Vygotsky, children gradually grow intellectually and begin to function on their own because of the assistance that adult and peer partners provide.
  16. 16. Culture and Society Influences • Nature of the partnership between developing children and adults and peers determined largely by cultural and societal factors
  17. 17. Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) • The level at which a child can almost, but not fully, perform a task independently, but can do so with the assistance of someone more competent. • When appropriate instruction is offered within the zone of proximal development, children are able to increase their understanding and master new tasks. • Cognition increases through exposure to information that is new enough to be intriguing, but not too difficult • Greater improvement with help = greater increases in zone of proximal development
  18. 18. One More Look at the ZPD
  19. 19. Scaffolding • Support for learning and problem solving that encourages independence and growth • Aids in development of overall cognitive abilities
  20. 20. So how does scaffolding look in action?
  21. 21. Cultural Tools • Actual, physical items or intellectual and conceptual framework for solving problems – Language – Alphabetical and numbering schemes – Mathematical and scientific systems – Religious systems – The nature of the tools available to children to solve problems and perform tasks is highly dependent on the culture in which they live.
  22. 22. Language Development During preschool years: • Sentence length increases at a steady pace • Syntax is ways in which children at this age combine words and phrases to form sentences - doubles each month • Enormous leaps in number of words used through fast mapping • Language blooms so rapidly between the late twos and the mid-threes that researchers have yet to understand the exact pattern.
  23. 23. Fast Mapping • New words are associated with their meaning after only brief encounter – By age 6, the average child has a vocabulary of around 14,000 words – Vocabulary acquired at rate of nearly one new word every 2 hours, 24 hours a day
  24. 24. Language Development • Use plurals and possessive forms of nouns (such as “boys” and “boy’s”), • Employ the past tense (adding “-ed” at the end of words, although not always correctly, as in “I goed to the store with daddy.”) • Use articles (“the” and “a”). • Ask, and answer, complex questions (“Where did you say my book is?” and “Those are trucks, aren’t they?”). • Extend appropriate formation of words to new words
  25. 25. Language Developemnt • Preschoolers also learn what cannot be said as they acquire principles of grammar • Although they still make frequent mistakes, 3-year-olds – Follow principles of grammar most of time – Are correct in their grammatical constructions more than 90 percent of time
  26. 26. Private Speech • Private speech, originally termed egocentric speech (Vygotsky, 1962/ 1934), is speech that is self-directed and used for the purpose of emotional, psychological, and behavioral regulation. • It is traditionally studied in children because private speech is externally voiced until around age 8, after which point it becomes internalized (Diaz & Lowe, 1987). • However, people continue to use private speech through adolescence and into adulthood as a means of self-regulation (John-Steiner, 1992). • Researchers have distinguished between three kinds of private speech (Berk, 1986): task-irrelevant (e.g., thinking about what to cook for dinner); task-relevant, non-facilitative (e.g., thinking about how frustrating the task at hand is); and task-relevant, facilitative (e.g., figuring out how to best solve a problem). In children, these different kinds of private speech predict performance on tasks, emotional adjustment, and reactions to challenging situations (Manning, White, & Daugherty, 1994).
  27. 27. Private Speech of Children • Speech by children that is spoken and directed to themselves – Performs important function. – Serves to try out ideas, acting as sounding board – Facilitates children’s thinking and helps them control their behavior – Serves an important social function
  28. 28. Practical Communication • Pragmatics is the aspect of language relating to communicating effectively and appropriately with others • Helps children to understand the basics of conversations – Turn-taking – Sticking to a topic – What should and should not be said, according to the conventions of society – Use of different language in various settings
  29. 29. Social Speech • Before the age of 3: – Speak only for their own entertainment – Apparently unaware if anyone else can understand • During preschool years: – Begin to direct their speech to others – Want others to listen – Become frustrated when they cannot make themselves understood – Begin to adapt their speech to others through pragmatics – Piaget contended that most speech during the preoperational period was egocentric: Preschoolers were seen as taking little account of the effect their speech was having on others. However, more recent experimental evidence suggests that children are somewhat more adept in taking others into account than Piaget initially suggested.
  30. 30. Learning from the Media What do children learn from What do children learn from television? computers? • Potent and widespread • Becoming influential in lives of stimuli preschoolers • Average preschooler • Seventy percent of preschoolers watching more than 21 between the ages of four and six hours of TV a week have used a computer • A quarter of them use one every • More than third of day for an average of an hour a households with children 2 day, and the majority use it by to 7 years of age say that themselves. television is on “most of the • With help from their parents, time” in their homes almost one-fifth have sent e-mail • Too early to know effects of • Preschoolers spend three- computer usage—and other new quarters of an hour reading media such as video games—on on the average day preschoolers
  31. 31. Television Watching American Academy of Pediatrics – Recommends that exposure to television should be limited – Suggests that until age of 2, children watch no television, and after that age, no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming each day
  32. 32. Television Watching Preschool children • Often do not fully understand plots • Unable to recall significant story details • Make limited and often erroneous inferences about motivations • Difficulty separating fantasy from reality • Not able to critically understand and evaluate advertising messages
  33. 33. Who cares for our children?
  34. 34. Out-of-home Care • Increasing number of children in out-of- home care • Some benefits to educational activities before formal schooling – Cognitive and social benefits from high quality preschool experiences
  35. 35. Varieties of Early Education • Child care centers - typically provide care for children outside the home, while their parents are at work. (Child-care centers were previously referred to as day-care centers. However, because a significant number of parents work nonstandard schedules and therefore require care for their children at times other than the day, the preferred label has changed to child-care centers.) – Although many child-care centers were first established as safe, warm environments where children could be cared for and could interact with other children, today their purpose tends to be broader, aimed at providing some form of intellectual stimulation. Still, their primary purpose tends to be more social and emotional than cognitive. • Family child care programs - Some child care is provided in family child-care centers, small operations run in private homes. Because centers in some areas are unlicensed, the quality of care can be uneven, and parents should consider whether a family child-care center is licensed before enrolling their children. In contrast, providers of center-based care, which is offered in institutions such as school classrooms, community centers, and churches and synagogues, are typically licensed and regulated by governmental authorities. Because teachers in such programs are more often trained professionals than those who provide family child care, the quality of care is often higher. • Preschools - Preschools are explicitly designed to provide intellectual and social experiences for children. They tend to be more limited in their schedules than family care centers, typically providing care for only 3 to 5 hours per day. Because of this limitation, preschools mainly serve children from middle and higher socioeconomic levels, in cases where parents don’t need to work full time. – Montessori – Reggio Emilia • School-age child care
  36. 36. Early Education (EE) Programs Children in EE programs: • Are more verbally fluent, show memory and comprehension advantages, and achieve higher IQ scores than at-home children • Are more self-confident, independent, and knowledgeable about social world in which they live than those who do not participate • Other studies find that early and long-term participation in child care is particularly helpful for children from impoverished home environments or who are otherwise at risk.
  37. 37. Early Education Programs (cont.) However, Children in EE programs also: – Are found to be less polite, less compliant, less respectful of adults, and sometimes more competitive and aggressive than their peers – Have a slightly higher likelihood of being disruptive in class extending through the sixth grade (when spending 10+ weeks) – Poor programs actually may harm children
  38. 38. Characteristics of Quality Child Care • Providers are well trained • Appropriate overall size and ratio of care providers to children - Single groups should not have many more than 14 to 20 children, and there should be no more than five to ten 3-year- olds per caregiver, or seven to ten 4- or 5-year-olds per caregiver. • Curriculum is carefully planned and coordinated among teachers • Language environment is rich, with a great deal of conversation • Caregivers are sensitive to children’s emotional and social needs, and they know when and when not to intervene • Materials and activities are age appropriate • Basic health and safety standards are followed
  39. 39. Preschool in the United States • No coordinated national policy on preschool education – Decisions about education have traditionally been left to states and local school districts – No tradition of teaching preschoolers – Status of preschools in United States is traditionally low
  40. 40. Head Start • In the United States, the best-known program designed to promote future academic success is Head Start. Born in the 1960s when the United States declared a War on Poverty, the program has served over 13 million children and their families. The program, which stresses parental involvement, was designed to serve the “whole child,” including children’s physical health, self-confidence, social responsibility, and social and emotional development. • Whether Head Start is seen as successful or not depends on the lens through which one is looking. • Although graduates of Head Start programs tend to show immediate IQ gains, these increases do not last. On the other hand, it is clear that Head Start is meeting its goal of getting preschoolers ready for school. Preschoolers who participate in Head Start are better prepared for future schooling than those who do not. Furthermore, graduates of Head Start programs have better future school adjustment than their peers, and they are less likely to be in special education classes or to be retained in grade. Finally, some research suggests that Head Start graduates even show higher academic performance at the end of high school, although the gains are modest.
  41. 41. The Purpose of Preschool: An International View
  42. 42. Early Education Programs - Conclusions • Studies show that those who participate and graduate from such preschool programs are less likely to repeat grades, and they complete school more frequently than those who are not in the programs. • For every dollar spent on program, taxpayers saved seven dollars by time graduates reached age of 27