Child Psychology: Infancy And Toddlerhood Stage And The Early Play Stage Of Jean Piaget’s Theory

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We might wonder as an adult how we drastically acquired so much information in a small period of time during our phases of child development. The four developmental skills that are made by Piaget is in the early stages ranges in our infancy towards our early adulthood. I will be speaking on the behalf of in infancy and toddlerhood stage and the early play stage of Jean Piaget’s theory.

The sensorimotor stage ranges of the child’s age from 0- 2 years old. During the child’s primary circular reaction stage which is at 1-4 months, the child had gained cognitive skills which are sucking which is usually on their thumbs or the pacifier, gazing, and grasping (Berk 2008). They often improve their motor skills when their senses and reflexes through the motion of playing and interacting. The secondary circular reaction stage which is from 4-12 months is when the child interacts with the environment in able to increase their mobility of sensory and motor development. An experiment done by Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk called the Visual Clip Experiment helps determine whether or not infants learns how to avoid drop off such as staircases or in depth perception and avoidance of drop offs as soon as he or she begins to crawl (Gibson and Walk 1960). The infants ability to physically acquires knowledge increases during active events.

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Object permanence stage at 12 months helps the child understand that an object exists even when it cannot be seen or touched (Kail and Cavanaugh 2008). When the infant is between the age of 12-18 months they become curious of sounds and how the objects surrounding them functions(Berk 2008). This is called the tertiary circular reaction stage. An example would be when a child bangs a stick or any type of toy they have against different objects surrounding them just to hear the different sounds it portrays is when they acquire the skills of discovery and exploratory.

During their skills of discovery and exploratory they begin to develop skills such as their understanding, perception, imagination, and mental representation. They start to save image in their head of a setting they’re in and remembering it. At around 18-24 months of age they are able to display mental representation through deferred imitation (Cole, Cole & Lightfoot 2005). The child is able to observe an action that was made during a period of time and ends up imitating it. For example, a person that is around the child is making the phone call and this person has been doing this for a period of time while the child is observing and when the person has completed this action the child tries to do the exact same thing. At this point the child is able to use their mental combinations to carry out their own tasks such as applying memory, resining, and perception just like solving puzzles.

During the primary, secondary, and tertiary circular reaction stages are all influenced through motion exchanges with adults, siblings, and or peers. Although the child’s ability to completed certain tasks varies it’s limitation through their biological age. The child’s mental development is acquired from biological standpoint which involves assimilation and accommodation (Tsou 2006). Assimilation is when a child uses instinctive reflexes to learn about their objects and surroundings; whereas, accommodation is crawling and putting objects in their mouth to learn about it which helps them acquire informational their surroundings such as tastes: sweet, sour, food, toys.

Assimilation and accommodation helps increase the mobility and senses(Tsou 2006). They gain knowledge using their sensory and motor activities with the use of body language and sounds to get attention. An example is when a child is crying and the child realizes that someone would approach them when they cry so when they’re alone and want attention they tend to cry. The sensory motor stage is the development of the sensory, motor and cognitive skills of a child.

The next stage of this discussion is the Early Play Years which is also known as the Pre-operational Stage which could range from 2 to 7 years of age. An observation made by Piaget watching the children play he was able to acquire information during a child’s psychological processes that appears around the age of 2 (Piaget 1962). An observation is one of the stages in forming a hypothesis which they developed as a theory, “Playing becomes an important factor in capability to learn, practice, and demonstrate age-appropriate reasoning and communication skills”( Ungerer and Sigman 1981). Playing helps children discovers their surroundings which enables them to acquires the skills: touch, taste, sound, and smell which are roles play during early stages of activities in murmuring, crawling and eventually walking. The sensorimotor and pre- operational stages allows children to speak, interact, and improve their motor capacities.

There are three forms of play: manipulative, functional, and symbolic (Ungerer and Sigman 1981). Manipulative form is when the child like to feel the things surrounding them, throwing, and licking, smelling toys. This allows them to learn about their environment and what it contains. The functional form is having to associate with others and putting puzzles together. Lastly, the Symbolic form helps them use their imagination and having to know how to substitutes objects with one another. The Symbolic form is the most important one because as the child get older they attain more creativity and expression in their imagination. The patterns of behaviour while children are at play that these activities simulated cognitive progression (Piaget 1962). Children at this stage are limited to perform operations that’s why the stage is called pre- operational stage. The children are still egocentric at this stage of development and find it difficult to understand other people’s viewpoints (Broderick and Blewitt 2009).

The pre-operational stage which ranges at the age 2-7 years contains 2 sub stages: symbolic function sub stage and the intuitive thought sub stage (Berk 2008). The symbolic function substage is between 2-4 years of age. It is to improve language proficiency, pretend play, understand symbols and images, and thinking through the experiences of other individuals. The intuitive thought substage is at 4-7 years of age. They tend to ask numerous of questions in able to gain knowledge about it. Perhaps, they acquire the answer to their questions but they don’t fully understand the reason behind it. For example, a child could ask what colour is the sky and what are the patches on it. You could tell the sky is blue and the patches on it are white but they wouldn’t understand why those are the colours or what’s it’s made of. Children under the age of 7 doesn’t fully understand the logic behind things or why the appearance of an object is the way it is.

The third stage of the development theory is called the concrete operation stage which rages from 7-11 years old. They utilize logic using conservation classification derivation and spatial reasoning (Berk 2007; Kai and Cavanaugh 2008). Conservation is understanding the quantity and length has no relation whatsoever. Conservation contains decentralizing and reversibility. Considering multiple scenarios to solve a problem is decentralizing. Whereas reversibility is to be able to recognize orders, numbers, and objects can be interchanged and reversed. The second phase is classifying associate name or characters to objects( Kai and Cavanaugh 2008). The third phase is derivation which is the sortiom of objects through characteristics, shapes, and sizes. The fourth phase is Spatial Meaning which creates mental maps of space movements or locations (Berk 2007). Exercises for this phase is using 2D and 3D puzzles. The concrete operational stage tends to eliminate egocentrism. It breaks compatible ideas from a viewpoint that is different to their own (Berk 2007; Piaget 1932/1965). Contemplation is there to demonstrated through false- beliefs when a child is given a certain scenario and how the child to react to that situation. Morality is having to judge what’s right and what’s wrong but ends up displaying the most favourable behaviour ( Piaget 1932/1965). The child’s moral could be based on their parents’ rules at home because they tend to think that it is a law and must be obeyed at all times which is known as comprehend logical and abstract concepts. Children at this stage still contains limitations which is depended on their ability to complete their tasks using abstract and hypothetical concepts (Elkins 1964).

The final stage is known as the Formal Operational Stage which is when a child becomes an adult. The thought process becomes more abstract, organized and investigative (Berk 2007). They understand the logic behind certain statements or concepts that doesn’t contain black and white information is propositional reasoning which lies on the high level acquisition in math, physics and or equations. They would also have the ability to have the hypothetico- deductive reasoning considering to know the abilities on hypothetical situations in able to come up with different approaches to solve a problem (Berk 2007). An example is having. Science project which involves critical thinking and brainstorming in a systematic manner. Their formal operational stage includes logic, organization, and investigative thinking which provides adolescents with a variety of skills that they may not have used at an earlier age. Morality is again explained yet with a complex entails having a better understanding on personal values that defines one’s character (Piaget 1932/1965). Their abilities are enhanced to understand other people’s perspectives based on their social problems. They become more sophisticated in levels of morality experiences through autonomous morality which begins in the realization that are based on social and verbal can be altered (Piaget 1932/ 1965). They already have the advancement of Congo five development but they can also attain more knowledge upon to continuously increase the level of maturity. This will keep continuing throughout an person’s lifetime.  


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