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Intellectual Development

While actively observing my cousin Amaris, I noticed many interesting characteristics that relate to what we are studying in this course. Her behavioral development is in the middle of the ‘Preoperational’ phase, according to Piaget’s Stages of Intellectual Development. She is a very active and talkative child with a vivid imagination and increasing motor skills, while still also not straying too far from her parents in most situations. With this essay, I will try to explain how I think Amaris relates to our understanding of developmental and child psychology.

Piaget’s preoperational stage includes the range of two to four year old children and so Amaris fits right in the middle. Her language acquisition is rapid and she demonstrates an ability to formulate thoughts that aren’t simply egocentric, which is directly in line with the preoperational stage. I noticed this aspect of her thinking when she made the connection that the basketball players on the TV were real people as opposed to fictional characters. When she asked her father whether he knew the players on TV since he played basketball as well, she was thinking outside of herself.

She also displayed an ability to relate the game on TV to a representational image when she made the drawing of an orange basketball. She recognized both the shape and colors of the basketball that was on screen and transferred that knowledge to paper. Another interesting development I noticed when she was making the drawing was that she understood that her actions could be reversed because she knew that the eraser could be used to fix her problems with the drawing.

This is important problem solving skill that continues to develop during this phase prior to the intuitive phase. During the intuitive phase children begin to develop increased motor skills and an increased ability to problem solve. I noticed that Amaris demonstrated some of these traits when she wanted ice cream. It was interested to watch her think through situations that involved complex movements and problem solving abilities. For instance, she knew that she wasn’t big enough to reach the table to scoop the ice cream.

In order to get around this problem, she identified a solution: to use a chair to climb up. This involved complex motor movements for a ‘preoperational’ infant. She knew that she needed to get some sort of leverage on the chair to move it, so she grabbed onto the seat and bent her legs and back in order to push it across the floor. Once she got it up to the table, she was faced with some more choices. She could either wait for her father to lift her up on the chair, per usual, or she could try to get up there herself.

I think she was trying to impress me at the time since I was so avidly observing her so she climbed up by herself, despite the order by her dad to wait. She was able to figure out that she needed to hold on to the side of the chair so that she would not fall backwards and off of the chair. Once she grabbed the chair she used her legs to climb up onto the brace of the chair and then used her arm muscles to pull herself up on her stomach onto the seat of the chair.

I’m not saying it was the smoothest climb onto a chair I’ve ever seen, but for such a young child I was impressed at her intuitive thought processes and problem solving ability. I think an interesting inquiry would be to study how other people’s presence affects decision making. I wondered about this when Amaris decided to climb up onto the chair in the kitchen despite her dad’s order to wait for him. If I wouldn’t have been there observing her, I’m not sure she would have made the same decision.

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