If you’re the parent of a toddler or preschooler, you’ve probably heard the name Jean Piaget thrown around among your circle of friends or by your child’s pediatrician. Piaget is a well-known child developmental psychologist who proposed several stages of development that children go through on their path to adulthood. Since your child is in Piaget’s pre-operational stage, which relies heavily on symbolism, certain activities will stimulate her and encourage normal development.
Piaget was a strong supporter of pretend play. According to Mary Mayesky, author of “Creative Activities for Young Children,” Piaget theorized that pretend play gives your kiddo the chance to make sense of what’s happening in the world around her. Perhaps she enjoys cooking with her toy kitchen and plastic food because she’s learning that it’s one of the roles in the household. She might also like dressing up as a firefighter, police officer or princess to make sense of what’s she’s learned about each of these people. Encourage your little one to use her imagination and then get down on the floor and pretend right along with her. You’ll both enjoy yourselves at the same time your child is learning more about what happens in her world.
Because Piaget’s pre-operational stage is all about symbolism, books are an enormously powerful tool for your kiddo. Snuggle up and read a few books together. Point out objects to your child and ask him to tell you what they are. Quiz him on the shapes and colors of different objects, too. According to Scholastic.com, when your child is able to identify pictures, he’s also able to use that knowledge to identify things in the world around him. This also supports Piaget’s notion that children aren’t just empty vessels waiting to be filled with the knowledge adults think they should have. Instead, your little one has his own thought processes that allow him to learn about the world around him, and books are one way to encourage him to think for himself.
Logic activities help your child build vocabulary and they also help support the way toddlers and preschoolers learn. According to Kentucky University, toddlers and preschoolers are quite logical. In other words, they don’t have the ability to think abstractly, and that’s why logic activities are so entertaining and educational. Work with your child to play a matching game or give her a variety of things and let her sort them by size, shape or color. Gather some stuffed animals and ask her to line them up with a bunny first, a bear second and a doll third. Sequencing like this is a logical activity that will lay the foundation for math as your child gets older.
It might drive you crazy, but toddlers and preschoolers love to imitate others. You should go ahead and let them, according to Piaget. Mayesky notes that imitation is one way that toddlers and preschoolers learn about socially acceptable behaviors and manners. Let your child dress up in your clothes, wear your shoes and carry a purse just like you do. Encourage her to imitate the sounds that animals make and to act like inanimate objects like cars or trucks. It’s even better if you play right along with your child. An imitation game teaches your child about how to interact with others appropriately.
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