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Cognitive Development in Children
How one thinks of themselves and the world around them constantly changes. So does one's ability to make decisions, learn and solve problems. The process of these changes occurring throughout one's lifetime can be studied through cognitive development.
What is Cognitive Development?
The processes or faculties through which knowledge is gained and used are called cognition. Cognition is a mental process, a reflection of the mind, and it cannot be seen directly and is usually studied based on behavioral inferences made indirectly. In its broadest psychological definition, "development" refers to specific changes that occur between conception and death in humans (or animals). The word describes changes that arise in orderly ways and last for a reasonable amount of time. As a result of the interaction of inherited and learned factors, cognitive development is defined as the process through which an individual sees, thinks about, and understands his or her environment. Some areas of cognitive development include memory, language acquisition, intelligence, and reasoning.
History of Cognitive Development Theory
Throughout history, there have been numerous approaches to researching how children's cognitive development happens. The earliest approach uses intelligence tests, such as the Stanford Binet Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test, which was created in France in 1905 and was first applied in the United States by psychologist Lewis Terman in 1916. A child with average intelligence will score in line with his or her age, whereas a clever child will score in line with an older child, and a slow learner will score in line with a younger child, according to the concept of "mental age" that underpins IQ testing. Although IQ tests are widely used worldwide, they are coming under growing fire for having an unnecessarily restrictive definition of intelligence and consisting of racial and gender biases.
Learning theory emerged from behaviorist researchers like John Watson and B. F. Skinner, who argued that kids are completely malleable in contrast to conventional intelligence testing, which emphasizes a kid's natural skills. Learning theory examines how a child's environment affects their capacity to learn, especially how they may acquire skills by having some behaviors rewarded and others punished.
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
What do people think? How do they make sense of their surroundings? How does knowledge of the world develop from childhood to adulthood? How can humans gain a deeper understanding of the world as they grow older? What is the method through which our thinking evolves or gets more complicated and sophisticated as we progress from childhood to adulthood? These are some of the problems that we will try to answer using the theory presented by Jean Piaget. His theories are crucial in comprehending the evolution of thought and numerous knowledge difficulties.
Piaget's theory comprises three fundamental concepts: a) Schemes for an organization: Piaget suggested that humans are born with a proclivity to arrange their thoughts into schemes (schema). These are psychological (mental) categories through which humans organize their information. As one grows from a child to an adult, these plans evolve and become more complicated. As you may have learned in Biology, adaptation is the process through which living creatures adjust to their surroundings.
If you recall, Piaget was a Biology student. Hence many of his notions are derived from Biology. Humans' thinking adjusts to changes in their surroundings the same way they do. These alterations result in modifications in mental schemes. Adaptation involves two fundamental processes: assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when people attempt to comprehend something new by fitting it into what they already know. Accommodation happens when a person's previous plans must be changed in order to adjust to a new scenario.
This stage lasts from birth to two years. As the name implies, infants throughout the early stages of this stage make sense of the world largely via their senses - touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, and sensing. The child's behavior consists of more reflexes or natural responses, such as sucking and screaming. As they grow older, they can do increasingly sophisticated bodily acts like crawling, manipulating their bodies, and chattering.
By the conclusion of this stage, they are increasingly capable of engaging in goal-directed activities. They can pursue someone and take their toys out of a box and put them back. This stage includes the following developments: coordination of reflexes, coordination of body motions coordination of simple motor activities.
The operational period lasts between two and seven years. It is critical for elementary school instructors to grasp this stage since the kid begins attending school later in this period. By this level, the mental processes outlined in the preceding stage are fairly established. These procedures serve as the foundation for future development; even though the youngster has plans for many behaviors, the ability to think like an adult has significant limitations. The youngster can only do an activity physically, not cognitively. The youngster cannot cognitively picture doing or reversing an action. Operations or operational thinking refers to the cognitive ability to perform and reverse an activity.
Concrete operating stage
This stage lasts between seven and eleven years. That is the years of middle school. During this stage, toddlers develop the mental ability to defer and reverse actions. As a result, they can use the conservation principle. They will now understand that the volume of water in a taller and flatter vessel can be equal, even though the taller vessel has a higher degree of height. As a result, you will be able to think in the following ways:
Children can comprehend that if we add and subtract the same quantity from a particular object, there is either no change or compensation for the change.
They may also classify items based on a single attribute (for example, selecting all square objects from a set of forms).
They get the ability to apply reasoning that necessitates seriation. That is, make meaning of an ABC series. Children learn to participate in reversible thinking by understanding that B might be bigger than A but smaller than C simultaneously. In that instance, he or she will comprehend that if 4 + 2 = 6, then 6 - 2 = 4.
Formal operational stage
This stage begins at eleven and lasts till adulthood. Remember that it was indicated at the outset that this stage is of the highest order in the evolution of thinking and that many individuals never reach it. This is the age of Cognitive Development when the child is in late elementary school. As the name indicates, children can participate in operational thinking during this time. That is, kids eventually develop the ability to think abstractly.
Their mind is no longer limited to tangible objects; they may also think about and interact with symbols (like numbers). It is crucial to remember that mathematics and grammar need greater abstract thinking since the learner must deal with symbols and concepts that are not always observable in the tangible world. Only at this period do children's mathematical thinking abilities emerge. Such reasoning necessitates the capacity to use both hypothetical (assumption-based) and deductive reasoning.
The major challenge to Piaget's theories comes from the information processing approach, which uses the computer as a model to shed light on how the human mind receives, stores, retrieves and uses information. Researchers using information-processing theory to study cognitive development in children have been particularly interested in the gradual improvements in children's capacity to take in information and focus selectively on particular parts of it, as well as their growing attention spans and capacity for memory storage. For instance, research has shown that memorizing strategies such as categorizing or repeating items to remember them play a part in older children's improved memory skills.
Two examples of cognitive impairment, the general lack of growth of cognitive ability, are autism and learning challenges. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, learning issues are a problem that impedes a person's ability to either process what they see and hear or to connect information from various brain regions (NIMH). These limitations may show themselves in several ways, such as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention.
These problems can affect academics and make learning to read, write, or do math difficult. A child with a learning disability may also experience severe emotional distress or hearing problems. However, neither problems nor environmental elements are the roots of learning troubles. Cognitive impairment is also observed with aging in some individuals. While some memory loss and difficulty are common with aging, this can sometimes also be an early symptom of dementia.
Vygotsky’s Socio-Cultural Perspective on Cognitive Development
Piaget's work is well regarded for its insight into how children's thinking and understanding develop. However, there are various criticisms of his work. One of the most serious criticisms is that his idea is not founded on observations of youngsters from other cultures. It was discovered that Piaget's theory and tasks could only partially describe cognition in persons from various circumstances. It is also argued that Piaget's theory needs to pay more attention to social processes that impact cognition.
However, this is not the case. In several of his works, Piaget shows that social processes (interacting with people, relationships, etc.) play an important role in cognitive development. Despite the importance of social processes, Piaget emphasizes how each child's thinking develops uniquely. As a result, it is frequently referred to as individual constructivism. This emphasis on the individual child is frequently criticized.
According to one viewpoint, mind and knowledge fundamentally develop or are produced in social processes, which Piaget does not address. Some philosophers emphasize the social and cultural processes of growth (language, conventions, practices, family, employment, etc.). They claim that youngsters learn daily via their interactions with peers and adults. In this learning process, thinking and knowledge expand. This development viewpoint is known as the socio-cultural perspective or social constructivism.
Despite the importance of social processes, Piaget emphasizes how each child's thinking develops uniquely. As a result, it is frequently referred to as individual constructivism. This emphasis on the individual child is frequently criticized. According to one viewpoint, mind and knowledge fundamentally develop or are produced in social processes, which Piaget does not address.
Some philosophers emphasize the social and cultural processes of growth (language, conventions, practices, family, employment, etc.). They claim that youngsters learn daily via their interactions with peers and adults. In this learning process, thinking and knowledge expand. This development viewpoint is known as the socio-cultural perspective or social constructivism.
One's cognitive abilities constantly change with time. While cognitive development is often thought to be progressive- moving from simpler to complex behaviors and structures, being "better" or "complete" as we undergo development, some theorists argue that this is not necessarily the case. Early or immature forms of development can help infants and children adapt to their particular environment. For instance, infants' poor sensory perception protects them from sensory overload. Therefore, looking at structures and their functions for each age group might be a better approach to cognitive development
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