Thought development ;- At an early age, the child develops preferences for toys and plays figures, which they then want to look at or touch particularly often. Things get the child’s attention and are already carefully selected.
At this age, the educators are very much challenged to protect the child from possible dangers through his thirst for knowledge. For example, swallowing small parts or cutting on sharp edges can be dangerous. Of course, the child can not yet recognize the dangers and so the parents’ responsibility is required.
Thought development Levels
According to the Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget (1896-1980), thought development is divided into four stages:
1st Thought development stage: The sensorimotor level (from birth to 2 years)
At this stage, the child can absorb stimuli from the environment through his or her sensory organs, but cannot yet link them to one another.
For example, when listening to music, the child cannot tell where the music is coming from.
But the sensory systems soon work together, as the child wants to experience with all of his senses. He looks at, feels, and puts the toys in his mouth.
(approx. 1-4 months)
Modification and confirmation of innate reflexes: grasping, sucking. The swallowing reflex becomes more targeted, stronger, and safer through practice.
(approx. 1-4 months)
Simple habits and elementary actions are habitually and unintentionally repeated.
For example, an object that is pressed into the child’s hand is automatically grasped and brought to the mouth.
(approx. 4-8 months)
Active repetitions: the infant repeats activities that happen to have an interesting, pleasure-oriented effect. This happens unintentionally. For example, a doll sings when it’s pressed. This pressing is interesting to the child.
(approx. 8-12 months)
Linking: different behavioral patterns are combined to achieve a specific purpose. For example, The child drops a key to watch it fall or to hear it.
(approx. 12-18 months)
Active experimentation: connections are recognized and become more pronounced. Objects are often used as tools to reach other objects. Problem-solving skills are trained through trial and error.
For example: If you attach a bell to a string that the child can reach, it will make various attempts to reach the bell. Soon the child recognizes the connection between bell and cord, and uses this knowledge to get to the bell.
(approx. 18-24 months)
Internalized action: New behaviors are no longer acquired by trying them out, but the child can now mentally imagine them. Imitation of actions of others, symbols, or fiction game takes place. For example, the child uses a building block as a car or pretends to drink from an empty cup.
2nd Thought development stage: Descriptive Thinking (2-7 years)
At this stage, the children are very self-centered and can hardly or not at all empathize with others.
In the vivid thinking phase, children learn a lot by looking at it from other people. For example, the child takes the fan scarf of the father’s favorite team when he is watching a football game on television. The child wants to adapt his behavior to that of the father. It develops a link between what you see and your actions.
- The child has more complex, but still very environment-related ideas.
- Only clear terms or thought are tangible. For example: A five-year-old knows the cup or plate, but will not use the generic term “dishes”.
- Pronounced egocentrism: The child only considers one point of view and thinks that everyone has this point of view and has the same knowledge.
- The child orients and concentrates only on one single factor/characteristic. This can be recognized, for example, from the Piaget pouring experiment: If a liquid is poured from a wide glass into a narrow glass, the child believes that there is more liquid in the tall glass than in the wide glass, because the water level is visually higher. Even if the child was there during the pouring process, the child only sees the result: the higher fluid level.
3rd Thought development stage: Logical Thinking (7-12 years)
At this age, children can draw their mental conclusions. You no longer have to fall back on the experience, but can come up with logical conclusions.
For an eight-year-old, for example, it would be logical that there is the same amount of liquid in the two glasses since he has seen that neither liquid was added nor removed.
- The child can imagine mutual relationships of objects or perceptions.
- Thinking becomes more independent and connections become clearer.
- The child becomes able to form generic terms. For example: The child knows that cups, plates, and bowls are dishes.
- Mathematically: the child will first add, then multiply, and divide later.
- The egocentrism slowly decreases and disappears.
4th Thought development stage: Abstract Thinking (from 12 years)
Adolescents from the age of 12 can draw logical conclusions from abstract requirements. You can mentally and systematically check your assumptions. (E.g. what if all people were unemployed?)
- The child can form hypotheses and questions such as “What if …?” Or statements such as “If …, then …”. For example, what if everyone in the world had enough to eat?
- The child can think about “things” for himself and find alternatives to reality.
- It can go beyond given problems and information. For example: The child knows when he was born and when the parents got married. From this, it can be concluded whether the mother was already pregnant with him at the wedding.
- Mathematical: the child is proficient in abstract counting and thus algebraic arithmetic. 50% of intelligence development takes place in the first four years. (So-called sensitive phase = a certain time when something can be easily learned and permanently consolidated. 30% takes place up to the age of eight. The last 20% can be reached by the age of 17. Most of the intellectual development is then complete – but not the expansion of knowledge.