Developmental Trends: Thinking and Reasoning Skills at Different Age Levels
What You Might Observe:
- Physical exploration of the environment becoming increasingly complex, flexible, and intentional
- Growing awareness of simple cause-effect relationships
- Emergence of ability to represent the world mentally (e.g., as reflected in make-believe play)
- Temperamental differences (e.g., the extent to which infants are adventuresome vs. more timid and anxious) influence exploratory behavior.
- Infants and toddlers who are emotionally attached to their caregivers are more willing to venture out and explore their environment (see Chapter 11).
- In some cultures adults encourage infants to focus more on people than on the physical environment. When people rather than objects are the priority, children may be less inclined to touch and explore their physical surroundings.
- Set up a safe, age-appropriate environment for exploration.
- Provide objects that stimulate different senses—for instance, things that babies can look at, listen to, feel, and smell.
- Suggest age-appropriate toys and activities that parents can provide at home.
Early Childhood (2–6)
What You Might Observe:
- Rapidly developing language skills
- Reasoning that is, by adult standards, illogical
- Limited perspective-taking ability
- Frequent self-talk
- Sociodramatic play
- Little understanding of how adults typically interpret events
- Shyness may reduce children’s willingness to talk with adults and peers and to engage in cooperative sociodramatic play.
- Adultlike logic is more common when children have accurate information about the world (e.g., about cause-effect relationships).
- Children learn to interpret events in culture-specific ways.
- Provide numerous opportunities for children to interact with one another during play and other cooperative activities.
- Introduce children to a variety of real-world environments and situations through field trips and picture books.
- Talk with children about their experiences and possible interpretations.
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