Developmental Trends: Cognitive Strategies and Metacognition at Different Age Levels
What You Might Observe:
- Use of one object to obtain another (in the second year)
- Emerging ability to plan a sequence of actions to accomplish a goal (appearing sometime around age 1)
- General absence of intentional learning strategies; however, toddlers may look or point at a location to remember where a desired object is hidden
- Little awareness and knowledge of thought processes (may have some awareness that other people have intentions, however; see Chapter 12)
- Willingness to engage in trial-and-error and other exploratory behavior is partly a function of temperamental differences.
- Emergence of early problem-solving strategies is somewhat dependent on opportunities to experiment with physical objects.
- Children with significant physical disabilities may have limited opportunities to explore and experiment.
- Model tool use and other simple problem-solving strategies.
- Pose simple problems for infants and toddlers to solve (e.g., place desired objects slightly out of reach), but monitor children’s reactions to make sure they are not unnecessarily frustrated in their efforts to solve problems.
Early Childhood (2–6)
What You Might Observe:
- Some rehearsal beginning in the preschool years, but with little effect on learning and memory
- Occasional use of organization with concrete objects
- Some ability to learn simple strategies modeled by others
- Awareness of thought in oneself and others, albeit in a simplistic form; limited ability to reflect on the specific nature of one’s own thought processes
- Belief that learning is a relatively passive activity
- Overestimation of how much information one can typically remember
- Children’s awareness of the mind and mental events depends partly on the extent to which adults talk with them about thinking processes.
- Many young children with autism have little conscious awareness of the existence of thought, especially in other people.
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