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Unformatted text preview: ts in their
environment. Consider these observations of three-to five-year-old children
during free-play time in a preschool.
⇒ One young boy has tied a blanket around his neck and is running
around the room making flying noises. Another child is in a corner
having a battle with two action figures she brought to school. A third
child has turned a large cardboard box into a car and is sitting in the
box and driving.
Symbolic play is an excellent example of assimilation because children use their
understanding of their experiences to create novel uses for objects in their 12 environment. Also, symbolic play can enhance children’s knowledge of objects,
actions, and symbols that in turn is important for later language development
(Lyytinen, Poikkeus, Laasko, Eklund, & Lyytinen, 2001).
Characteristics of preoperational thought. An operation is an
internalized cognitive action that allows children to reason logically about their
experiences (Wadsworth, 1996). Children in the preoperational stage have not
developed operational logic, but rely instead on intuition and perception. Their
reasoning is characterized by the Piagetians as having the limitations of
irreversibility, egocentrism, and centration.
Irreversibility is the term used to describe the observation that
preoperational children do not have reversible operations. A logical operation is
reversible, if the child realizes that the effects of one operation can be nullified by
the effects of another operation, or that an operation can be readily inverted into
its opposite (Beard, 1969; Thomas, 2000). For example, mentally combining blue
and red beads together to form a group of red and blue beads can mentally be
undone by separating the beads into a red and blue group. Pouring the juice back
into the pitcher can reverse pouring a pitcher of juice into several cups. According
to the Piagetians, preoperational children lack these types of understandings. For
example, a four-year-old girl is asked if she has a sister. She replies that she does
and her sister’s name in Maria. However, when asked if Maria has a sister, the 13 four-year-old says no. The four-year-old apparently is having trouble readily
inverting her relationship with her sister into the opposite relationship.
Preoperational thought is also egocentric. Egocentrism is the tendency of
preoperational children to judge everything from their point of view (McDonald
& Stuart-Hamilton, 2002; Piaget, 1924). Egocentrism has two important
consequences for preoperational children’s thinking. First, they will have
difficulty taking a point of view that is different from their own. For example, a
preschooler plays hide and seek by standing in full view of others with her hands
over her eyes. She apparently felt hidden because she could not see the others. If
she could not see them, it followed that they could not see her.
The second consequence of egocentrism is that preoperational children do
not perceive a need to justify their thinkin...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.
- Spring '08