The Developing Person
Through the Life Span 8e
by Kathleen Stassen Berger
Chapter 9- Early Childhood:
Cognitive Development
PowerPoint Slides developed by
Martin Wolfger and Michael James
Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington
Reviewed by Raquel Henry
Lone Star College, Kingwood
Piaget and Vygotsky
Piaget: Preoperational Thought
• Preoperational means “before (pre)
logical operations (reasoning processes).”
• The child’s verbal ability permits symbolic
– Language frees the child from the limits of
sensorimotor experience.
Piaget and Vygotsky
Four Limitations of Preoperational Thought
• Centration- a young child focuses (centers)
on one idea, excluding all others.
– Egocentrism- “self-centeredness”
• Focus on appearance- a thing is whatever it
appears to be
• Static reasoning- belief that the world is
• Irreversibility- what is done cannot be undone
Piaget and Vygotsky
• Conservation- The principle that the amount of a
substance remains the same (is conserved) when its
appearance changes.
Piaget and Vygotsky
•Animism- Belief that natural objects
and phenomena are alive.
•Children simultaneously hold rational
and magical ideas.
Piaget and Vygotsky
Vygotsky: Social Learning
• Every aspect of children’s cognitive
development is embedded in the social
• Guided participation- process by which
people learn from others who guide their
experiences and explorations (mentor).
Piaget and Vygotsky
• Zone of proximal development (ZPD)Vygotsky’s term for the skills—cognitive as
well as physical—that a person can exercise
only with assistance, not yet independently.
• Scaffolding- Temporary support that is
tailored to a learner’s needs and abilities and
aimed at helping the learner master the next
task in a given learning process.
Language as a Tool
• Private speech- The internal dialogue that
occurs when people talk to themselves
(either silently or out loud).
• Social mediation- Human interaction that
expands and advances understanding,
often through words that one person uses
to explain something to another.
Children’s Theories
• Theory-theory- The idea that children
attempt to explain everything they see and
hear using theories
• Theory of mind- A person’s theory of what
other people might be thinking.
– In order to have a theory of mind, children must
realize that other people are not necessarily
thinking the same thoughts that they themselves
– That realization is seldom achieved before age 4.
• Language is pivotal to every kind of
cognition in early childhood.
• Early childhood is a sensitive period, the
best time to master vocabulary, grammar,
and pronunciation.
• The average child knows about 500 words
at age 2 and more than 10,000 at age 6.
•The speedy and sometimes imprecise
way in which children learn new words by
tentatively placing them in mental
categories according to their perceived
Basic Grammar
• The grammar of a language includes the
structures, techniques, and rules that
communicate meaning. Word order and word
repetition, prefixes and suffixes, intonation and
emphasis—all are part of grammar.
• Overregularization- The application of rules of
grammar even when exceptions occur, making
the language seem more “regular" than it
actually is.
Learning Two Languages
• Young bilinguals site both languages in the
same areas of the brain but keep them
separate when speaking, not so in adults
• Pronunciation is hard to master after
• Balanced Bilingual: fluent in two languages,
not favoring one over the other
Early Childhood Education
Child-Centered Programs
• Stress children’s natural inclination to learn through play
rather than by following adult directions.
• Show the influence of Vygotsky, who thought that
children learn from other children and through cultural
practices that structure life.
• Montessori schools emphasize individual pride and
accomplishment, presenting literacy-related tasks.
• Reggio Emilia approach- A famous program of earlychildhood education that originated in the town of Reggio
Emilia, Italy; it encourages each child’s creativity in a
carefully designed setting.
Early Childhood Education
Teacher-Directed Programs
Stress academic subjects taught by a teacher
to an entire class.
Children learn letters, numbers, shapes, and
colors, as well as how to listen to the teacher
and sit quietly.
Make a clear distinction between work and
Are much less expensive, since the
child/adult ratio can be higher.
Early Childhood Education
Intervention Programs
• Project Head Start- The most widespread
early-childhood education program in the
United States, begun in 1965 and funded by
the federal government.
• At first, the program was thought to be highly
successful at raising children’s intelligence;
ten years later, early gains were said to fade.

Invitation to the Life Span by Kathleen Stassen Berger