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Measuring children’s ability Essay Sample

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Measuring children’s ability Essay Sample

Jean Piaget’s (1936) theory of cognitive development is based on his belief that children are active learners and cognitive development is a process taught through interaction with the environment, intelligence was believed to be a fixed trait and that children were simply less intelligent than adults. McLeod, S (2009). McLeod (2009) says that instead of measuring children’s ability to solve problems, count and spell to determine their level of intelligence, Piaget was interested in how children’s concepts of numbers, time, justice etc. emerged which gives the idea of how different environments affect a child’s intellectual development. In Piaget’s theory, he came up with 4 stages of development which shows children’s increasing rate of cognitive development:

Sensorimotor – 0-2 years

Pre-operational stage – 2-7 years

Concrete operational stage – 7-11 years

Formal operational stage – 12+

Sensorimotor stage 0-2 years

Between birth and 2 years, children are in the sensorimotor stage where they gather information about the world through their senses: touch, sight, smell, sound and taste and learn how to move their body about. During this stage, children remain egocentric which means they are only capable of seeing things from their own viewpoint so they may not understand why they can\’t have something and this may cause temper tantrums. Piaget breaks the sensorimotor stage into 6 different substages, the first stage takes place within the first month of the baby\’s life, in this stage, babies can only complete simple reflexes such as sucking and withdrawing their head from instinct to feed.

During the second substage, between 1 to 4 months, babies progress from simple reflexes to voluntary actions, for example, babies this age will move their bodies about and by chance may create a feeling they like, for example a baby may put their hands in their mouth by chance but then continue to do it.

In the third stage, between 4 to 8 months, babies focus shifts from their body to the environment, similarly as to before, the baby will move their body and cause something to happen by chance, but they begin to change things in their environment, such as touching a toy and discovering it makes a noise, then this may cause the child to voluntarily continue to do this.

The fourth stage is between 8 and 12 months and this is when children begin to be able to coordinate steps for their body to do to complete a goal, for example they may climb onto something to reach something else. Also during this stage is when young children grasp object permeance and understand that objects out of their reach still exists. From this stage till the age of 2 children will develop their language and around the age of 2 children will begin engaging in pretend play.

 

As children begin to start talking they start to understand that objects represent words and can start to grow their vocabulary, form sentences, ask questions and follow commands. During this stage, logical thoughts start to develop but it can be described as immature logic which isn\’t fully developed yet, a good example of this can be that children may think brown cows produce brown milk because they know white milks produce white milk.

Also, their logic may only be through their senses meaning they can’t think abstractly yet but can start to begin tasks such as mathematics but only if they can see it such as through using building blocks and pictures. In this stage, children still lack any concept of conservation which is the value of quantity and children can’t grasp the idea that two measurements may be equal despite not looking like they are.

During this stage children cognitively develop significantly as they can grasp the idea of conservation and can begin to think theoretically and abstractly for the first time before. The biggest development between 7-11 is that children begin to think logically, although they may struggle with abstract thinking. Furthermore, in the concrete operational stage, children become more sociocentric and start to understand things from other people’s perspective’s which is important in building friendships to understand that everyone is different. During the last stage – formal operational, which begins at 12 and continues into adult hood, a concrete understanding of abstract and logical thinking is completed.

Piaget’s ideas prompted more research of other psychologists and sets the template for teaching by showing what level of ability children have at every age so that that the early years sector can evaluate what tasks are suitable and what strategies best suit their ability. Firstly, Pavlov made it known that children before the preoperational stage aren\’t capable of abstract thinking so early years practitioners must demonstrate tasks and instructions.

Also, Piaget’s findings made it clear that children remain egocentric until the concrete operational stage so early years settings should promote social development in the children so they can become more sociocentric. Piaget’s theory also prompted the education system during the concrete operational stage to set tasks such as experiments and problem solving to develop logical thoughts. Woolfolk, A (2004).

Moreover, Piaget recognized that children start engaging in pretend play at around 2 years old and that this is an effective way for children to develop so this prompted nurseries to be full of different settings for different roles of pretend play. Also, he encouraged the use of nursery rhymes and repetition to promote children\’s communication as soon as they begin talking and encouraged props such as puppets when singing nursery rhymes or reading a book so that the children to develop their language and put names to objects.

Pavlov was a physiologist which developed the theory of conditioned reflexes which is a form of learning and his theory influenced how children are educated. Gray, C (2015) says that Ivan Pavlov (1902), during another experiment noticed that his dog\’s response to food was to drool, this was a reflex for the dog every time an assistant entered the room because they expected to be fed, this shows that the dog had associated the assistant with the food. This builds the idea that dogs can be trained to build a reflex, so presumably, so can humans, for example, he then decided to train the dogs to drool to the sound of a bell.

The process of the experiment was that a bell was used before the dog\’s food arrives and this conditioned them to drool when they heard the bell because they expected food. Pavlov went on to say how when the bell is presented but the dogs don\’t receive any food, over time the drooling response seems to disappear, however, it was shown that it can be relearnt. Gray, C (2015) shows how Pavlov used to show that humans, as well as dogs, associate two things to condition a response, the example Pavlov used is the association with a child being scared of one dog and then may be scared of every dog they come into contact with, possibly throughout life, even though he has forgot the encounter that caused the fear. Pavlov shows that once formed, associations are hard to retract.

Pavlov influenced Skinners work and together they both encouraged positive and negative reinforcements within the early years sector to promote good behaviour from the children, Pavlov proved that children will associate good behavior and rewards so will more likely behave and punishments will discourage bad behaviour. Pavlov\’s theory may make it easier and quicker for children to listen to their teachers, a good example may be that children are conditioned to know that when the teacher counts down from 20 the children should be quiet or line up. This may also be done to promote a child\’s intellectual development as a child may learn their time tables through the method of conditioned reflexes as they can learn to associate certain numbers with certain answers meaning they won\’t have to take time to complete the sum and know it immediately.

Bandura – Social learning theory

Bandura was a psychologist which believed that behaviour is learnt from the environment by observational learning and is widely known for his 1961 Bobo doll experiment. McLeod, S (2016). Bandura proved that children learn their behaviour from their environment by imitating behaviour of those around them, this is shown through the Bobo doll experiment in which a group of children aged between 3 and 6, were divided and some children went to a room and witnessed an adult model being aggressive towards a doll and the other children went to a room where the adult model was friendly with the doll.

Then, individual children were placed in the room by themselves with this same doll and was watched behind one sided glass, the outcomes showed that children did copy the behaviour of the model they observed, children who watched the aggressive model also became aggressive, punching and hitting the doll – like they had witnessed. On the other hand, those children which witnessed the model being kind to the doll copied this behaviour and was not aggressive at all.

Bandura found that children are more likely to imitate their own gender and also that they observe the consequences and reactions of others behaviour and are more likely to imitate it if who they are observing is rewarded for their behaviour as they then expect the same and will continue this behaviour if they receive rewards, but will become discouraged if that person is punished and chose not to copy them. Before Bandura’s findings, psychologists thought that other people’s behaviour didn’t influence us as much as the Bobo doll experiment shows. In conclusion, he found that children learn social behaviour such as aggression through the process of observation, this showed how the media can affect children. McLeod (2016).

Bandura, had proven that children model each other, therefore, in some early year’s settings, well behaved children and poorly behaved children may be paired together or encouraged to be friends as the poorly behaved child’s behaviour may improve when they realise good behaviour earns rewards instead of punishments and, seeking the adult’s approval, will act differently. Also, these findings showed that it is especially important that practitioners are good role models which speak to the children politely and with respect because children will copy this behaviour.

Also, Bandura gave the impression that it is possible that some violent or aggressive children are not just misbehaving but merely imitating the actions of someone around them, which could be a sign they may be in danger at home to abuse etc. so for safeguarding reasons, it is important early year’s practitioners be wary of why some children act the way they do.

Bronfenbrenner – Ecological systems theory

Bronfenbrenner was a developmental psychologist who is most known for his ecological systems theory, which was based on the belief that children’s development is based on multiple different environments not just their family and home as thought before, but as far as their culture and government. Bronfenbrenner divided four different systems which influence child’s development, the first being the most influential – microsystems. Microsystems are the people and places which influence us every day and are closest to us, this usually relates to family, religion and school and it is thought these influence children most because these systems are most involved children’s development.

The next system, is mesosystems and this is the interaction between 2 of the microsystems which causes a change for the child, for example, if a child’s family is arguing, although the child may not be present through this they will be influenced in some way.

The third system is the exosystem, this relates to factors which may influence the child although they don’t come into direct contact, this could be the mass media, the school board or a parent\’s workplace, for example, if a parent has a hard day at work and is upset, the child won’t be directly influenced because they were not at that workplace or know about the events, but they will be influenced by how their parent is acting. The last system is macrosystem and this is the beliefs and ideologies of the culture the child is in, for example, in the UK the ideologies are that everyone deserves free speech, free health care and free education and although the child doesn’t know anything about this they are influenced as they may require to use the free health care and do use the free education every day.

Bronfenbrenner\’s ideas showed how vital it is that some environmental factors such as poverty and health can affect a child\’s overall development, this prompted early years sectors to work with parents to ensure their children have all the basic necessities, a way schools do this is by providing free school meals, free recourses and free school trips to those who need it so that children in poverty are given a fair chance of developing like everyone else.

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