Cognitive Development in Preschoolers (page 4)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Five-year-olds are interested in sorting and grouping (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1992). They can successfully sort objects on the basis of a single feature, such as color, shape, and size. Sorting things on the basis of more abstract concepts, such as an object’s use, is more challenging. Kim proudly showed her teacher how she sorted all the beads into different color groups. When asked to sort all the toys in the dramatic play area that could be used in the kitchen, the group included spoons, artificial foods, as well as a doll and teddy bear. Kim explained that she frequently played with her doll and teddy in her kitchen at home.

Understanding the concept of time is still a challenge for five-year-olds (Flavell, Green, & Flavell, 1995). They talk about things that happened in the past, yet yesterday means the same thing as last month or last week. However, they are able to understand time in terms of things that they are familiar with. To explain how long it will take to get to the zoo, the teachers say that it will take as long as it takes you to get home from school. Time is relative to things in the children’s immediate experiences. Calendars posted in classrooms and in homes begin to help children conceptualize how long it will be until the field trip or their birthday.

At this age, children have not developed strategies for remembering information. However, with help, they can employ some strategies for remembering (Siegler, 1997). In remembering where they left their sneakers, the teacher can ask specific questions about what and where they were last playing, trying to help them reconstruct events to help them remember. Learning in context and in meaningful ways will increase their chances of recalling information. Five-year-olds can learn the alphabet if it is connected to experiences that they are familiar with. Also, they can recall parts of a story after two readings of a story (Morrow & Smith, 1990).

Five-year-olds are becoming more certain about what is real and what is pretend. At the classroom Halloween party, Jake stood and stared at the frightening witch who entered the room. Then he said, “Hey, Tina, is that you under there? You didn’t fool me.” At this age, children love to play pretend games, and their imaginations are boundless. They are fascinated with magic and think that things really can appear and disappear. Five-year-olds typically believe in the tooth fairy and the magic of Santa Claus. However, they are beginning to ask important questions about how the tooth fairy gets into their house and how she knows where the tooth is. These questions represent the evolution of their thinking and attempts to make concepts fit into what they know about the world.

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