The Early Childhood Cognitive Developmental Theory
As an early childhood educator, I hold a certain set of beliefs that I apply when it comes to care and educating the young children. These beliefs include the items I hold important and essential to the efficient education of the young children. They contribute to a comfortable learning experience to my students. I diligently practice these beliefs hence making them my philosophy. My philosophy is that as an educator I need to keep learning, planning and implementing my acquired knowledge in the learning activities for the children. The learning activities involved are crucial for a positive learning growth hence the need for constant renewal of knowledge on early childhood education.( MAL-ED Network Investigators, 2018). I also believe that besides focusing on the education needs of the children, as an educator I ought to also focus on the well-being of the children and ensure that their basic needs as well are always met. Learning of the cognitive theory has helped me implement my duties as a childhood educator better and more efficiently while following up on my educator philosophy. The cognitive theory was proposed by theorist Jean Piaget. The cognitive theory revolutionizes on how an educator views the development of a child. Piaget insists that children think differently than adults. The cognitive developmental theory gives detailed steps and sequences on the development of a child’s thoughts and mental states. In addition, Piaget presents his thoughts on the process that influence how a child understands and interacts with the world. Children are potent beings and have absorbent minds which constantly take in what they learn as they interact with the outside world. Young children are full of curiosity with the recurring need to explore and make new discoveries every now and then. This makes them creative, unique and imaginative. Hence as an educator I realized I have to be careful and keep note of the thoughts instilled into my young students as these thought processes will influence their line of thought in the future. This was my “aha” moment and it influenced my philosophy as an early childhood educator which as earlier mentioned includes constant learning, planning and implementation of my newly acquired skills in the education of my young children.
It is important for every early childhood educator to understand the general development cycle of children and the different factors affecting this cycle. This is because with this understanding the educator is able to make the best decisions on the young children’s learning materials, programs and how to push for a child’s growth both academically and emotionally. For example, in Piaget’s proposed theory of cognitive development, there are four stages of a child’s development. These stages include the sensorimotor stage, the pre-operational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. During the sensorimotor stage the child’s behaviors only include simple motor responses and are influenced by the sensory stimuli.( Straub, Grunert, Northstone, & Emmett, 2019). This stage is the time between birth and two years of age. The pre-operational stage which is the time between 2 and 6 years, determines the child’s language and understanding of logic. During this stage the child learns language and is able to mentally process the information passed to them. During the concrete operational stage the child acquires better understanding of the events around them. They however cannot understand deep hypothetical concepts. This is between the age of 7 and 11. The formal operational stage on the other hand is characterized by the child learning and adopting abstract concepts of thinking and consequently develops skills such as systematic planning and logical thought. With a good understanding of these stages and when they occur, an educator is able to handle the young children appropriately. The educator is able to understand that children undergo different developmental processes and therefore they will have to apply different models in each of the developmental processes for better learning. The different learning models and activities help the young children to learn how to use their acquired cognitive skills and apply them accordingly in their day-to-day lives. Hence, in these ways the knowledge on cognitive development of children is important to all early childhood educators.
The developing mind of a child is highly active and insightful. Right from a tender age the young children derive theories to explain the actions of the people and objects around them. From these theories, the foundation of the child’s thought process is formed. The young children are also highly responsive to the actions and words directed to them by other people who include family, friends, the general public and their educators. The young children benefit from the constant knowledge passed on to them through the words and actions of their surroundings. Young children develop their own understanding of mental states based on the desires and feelings portrayed by others.( Amiliya, & Harun, 2019). With this understanding the young children are able to develop their own intuitive map and begin to understand what goes on in other people’s minds. The children are also able to identify the similarities and differences between their thoughts and intentions and that of other people. This way knowledge on the cognitive development of young children enhances the children’s cognitive, social and physical development.
This new-found knowledge on the development of a young child’s cognitive behavior forms a big turnaround for me and will result to a change in how I interact and teach the young children. I will include more symbolic games in the children’s learning activities. The symbolic games which are majorly made up of imaginary play helps develop the natural curiosity of a child. The games invoke their curiosity to the world hence improving their general knowledge on the activities that goes on around them. This eventually results into better problem solving and a sharper focus and attention on their daily activities. Using my knowledge and skills, I will be able to identify and choose activities that are helpful to all my young students. This is to ensure that none of my students is left behind; all ought to develop their cognitive skills to their fullest potential. The activities I plan on adding to my learning plans include memory matching games, puzzles, sequencing, and sorting and classification games. The games instill patience to their children as I , an educator, encourage them to be calm as they look for the solution. Rewards and congratulatory cues also encourage the children and give them a general positive outlook on the world.
Information on the cognitive development of young children will also influence how I communicate with families, co-workers and the general community. I will instill a positive parent-educator communication link whereby I openly communicate to the parents on their children’s progress on their cognitive development. This helps the parent understand how to take part in the growth and development of their young children. As an educator I will communicate both the successes and failures of the children to their parents. The results will encourage the parents showing them that their active participation in the growth and development of the child is effective and constantly bearing fruit. The parents will also understand the different academic approaches I take as an educator and from these gain ideas on their children’s education. In my interactions with individuals in charge of children and the general community, I will encourage them to be careful of their actions and words around the young children as it influences their development. With active involvement in its children’s development, the community gains more confidence on the values instilled into their children. The community also forms an appreciative stance to the early childhood educators after identifying their role and involvement in the development of the children. Parent and community involvement is also beneficial to the young children. The involvement boosts the children’s academic performance. They are more motivated to continue learning and significant changes in their behaviors can be noted. The children also have a positive attitude to their school work and attend school sessions more actively and willingly.( Ellingsen, 2016). As an educator this also benefits me as I am now able to understand my students’ needs according to their background environments. Hence with this information from my better interaction with the parents and the general community I am able to plan for better activities that meet the young children’s needs. It also increases my morale as an educator. My interaction with the parents and the general community will be through parent-teacher conferences, school community councils, teacher comments to parents, and through phone calls and e-mails. The interactions will be made better through strict timelines, diligent follow-throughs and clarity.
The learning on cognitive development of young children has made me a better early childhood educator. I am able to understand and interact with my students better and address their needs appropriately. I am also able to organize better learning activities for my students. These learning activities contribute positively to the cognitive development of a child. Hence, in this way, cognitive development learning has helped me become a better educator.
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MAL-ED Network Investigators. (2018). Early childhood cognitive development is affected by interactions among illness, diet, enteropathogens and the home environment: findings from the MAL-ED birth cohort study. BMJ global health, 3(4), e000752.
Straub, N., Grunert, P., Northstone, K., & Emmett, P. (2019). Economic impact of breast-feeding-associated improvements of childhood cognitive development, based on data from the ALSPAC. British Journal of Nutrition, 122(s1), S16-S21.
Amiliya, R., & Harun, H. (2019, April). Natural based Learning for Early Childhood Cognitive Development. In International Conference on Special and Inclusive Education (ICSIE 2018). Atlantis Press.
Kocevska, D., Rijlaarsdam, J., Ghassabian, A., Jaddoe, V. W., Franco, O. H., Verhulst, F. C., & Tiemeier, H. (2017). Early childhood sleep patterns and cognitive development at age 6 years: the Generation R Study. Journal of pediatric psychology, 42(3), 260-268.
Ellingsen, K. M. (2016). Standardized assessment of cognitive development: Instruments and issues. In Early childhood assessment in school and clinical child psychology (pp. 25-49). Springer, New York, NY.

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