Jean Piaget, a prominent Swiss philosopher and psychologist, was one of the first researchers to take children's play seriously. Through his studies of children in the early 1900's, he came to recognize that children learn step-by-step through experience and interaction with the world around them. In fact, Piaget's research discovered that the young mind is not capable of formal logic and abstract thinking until 11 or 12 years old. Up until then, children learn inductively through experimentation and testing – through hands-on play.
Piaget identified these stages of children’s development:
Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to 2 years
The child at this stage uses senses and motor abilities to figure out the world. Squeeze the rubber ducky and it quacks. Drop the ball in the hole and it rolls down the chute all the way to the bottom. Through repetitive play, the young child learns how to keep in mind what's out of sight and how to cause a reaction.
Preoperational Stage: 2 to 6 years
During this stage the child acquires the ability to use symbols but still requires physical props and concrete situations to solve problems. A preschooler will line up 4 blocks and 4 more and then count up to 8. Then do it all over again using cookies or fingers.
Concrete Operations: 6-11 yearsFrom physical experience, the school-age child learns to conceptualize. Now 4+4 can be solved with numbers, not just with objects. Still the young student relies on experiment and discovery to hotwire the brain. Strategy games and brainteasers help children to begin thinking logically and lay the foundation for the acquisition of formal logic later on.
Provided By Nancy Stanek
This information is provided on behalf of the toy experts at your neighborhood toy store.