Young children can come up with some very strange ideas but that’s all considered to be a part of their growing up. It is really important for the parents or care givers to understand the capabilities of a child so that they can expect some reasonable behaviour Every child has her own growth pattern and pace but possibly, to some extent, physical growth impacts the mental growth also.
Piaget, in late 1920s, formed the Theory of Cognitive Development and enlisted some capabilities of preschool children and also what they’re not ready to do at that stage. Here’s what he found in the same regards:
• A child’s thought process is not possibly logical for others though he speaks in complex sentences. For example, he may say, “An apple is red; this fruit which is green in color is not an apple.”
• It’s difficult to reverse a child’s thinking once she’s reached to some conclusion. Preschools are not at the stage of going backwards easily to check if it makes some sense or not. Probably they don’t understand the concept of cause and effect.
• The young children are egocentric and they believe that everyone should see the things as they see it.
• Young children specifically pay attention to one aspect of some event and ignore the other relevant details. For example, if a child has gone to a field trip with her school, she might give an elaborate description of the park but not any of the activities they did there.
• Sometimes young children believe strongly that inanimate objects are alive. It is very common for them to believe their stuffed toy has all the feelings. Rather very often they’re seen talking to them as well.
• A preschooler can not judge the precise amount or we may say that spatial knowledge is not developed fully at that stage yet. She can’t judge the same amount of pebbles in a small or a big jar, though the amount is same in both.
So, basically what are these young children capable of learning? Benjamin Bloom, in 1950s, led a team of researchers and they created a “Cognitive Learning Guide”, which described as to how different age groups process the information. This guide shows that at what particular stage the child understand different concepts. The different levels of learning are as follows-
• Level 1- Knowledge– This level is generally used to retell the stories to the child. In this level, child knows the concept already and just needs to remember it.
• Level 2- Comprehension– At this level, the child understands the meaning of a concept and can tell the main points of the story.
• Level 3- Application– at this level the child can cite few relevant examples as to how the particular concept can be utilized in real life by drawing lessons from the story.
• Level 4- Analysis– AT this level the child thinks about various details of different lessons learnt in the story and how they combine to form a main point. The child can break down every single idea presented in the story and can think other possibilities too.
• Level 5- Synthesis– At this stage the child is very much capable to apply the learnt concept in new situations. For example, when the child faces some challenge, she can recall the lessons from the story and can act accordingly.
• Level 6- Evaluation– At this stage, child’s judgment becomes clear and can think over the pros and cons to decide whether it was good or bad. For example, the child can judge whether they liked the story or not and if the lesson was useful or not.
Its very normal if the child is comfortable in the areas of knowledge, comprehension and application but not much comfortable at the stages 4 – 6.
So it’s very important for you to keep in mind these stages while introducing anew concept to your child. Be careful and ask the questions. Then you can hear their answers and use those answers as a guide for your child for the next step. For example if you know that your child can analyze the problem but not very comfortable in synthesizing it, you can help her collecting the facts and guide her towards the upcoming steps. With your help she can learn to gather and utilize the information and draw the conclusions from it. This way you can help your child progress faster by probing a question that requires evaluation, such as “what you would’ve done if you faced the same situation in the story?”This would encourage her to decide if the action taken by the character were good or bad.
But let me conclude by saying this “All the guidelines are just… guidelines! They’re not a strict drawn line to confine every child’s growth and understanding. Each child grows at her own pace which is perfect for her. So keep the required expectations in mind but don’t force them on your child. Just sit back with your child and enjoy the ride.