There are three questions within our forum this week.
1- Discuss environmental influences on early cognitive development for infants and toddlers.
2- What are notable differences for at-risk infants and toddlers?
3- How would culture differences impact this early cognitive development?
Criteria/ 300 Level Forum Rubric
Analyzed the question(s), fact(s), issue(s), etc. and provided well-reasoned and substantive answers.
Supported ideas and responses using appropriate examples and references from texts, professional and/or academic websites, and other references. (All references must be from professional and/or academic sources. Websites such as Wikipedia, about.com, and others such as these are NOT acceptable.)
Post meets the 300 word minimum requirement and is free from spelling/grammar errors
Timeliness: initial post meets the Wed deadline
Cognitive Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood
Earlier lessons have already provided an introduction to the basics of cognitive development. Cognitive development is the development of thought, mental processes and language. Theories on cognitive development attempt to explain how children develop thought and memory, gain information processing skills, and respond to their environments.
TOPICS COVERED WILL INCLUDE:
· Piaget’s view of development
· Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development as relates to our understanding of early cognitive development.
· Environmental influences on early mental development, including home, child care, and early interventions for at-risk infants and toddlers.
· Individual and cultural differences in early language development, including factors that influence these differences.
Fundamentals of Cognitive Development
Cognitive development in infants and toddlers advances at a rapid rate as the brain matures and children draw on their natural propensity to be active learners engaging with their environment. Several theories help us understand this developmental trajectory and also illuminate how to support optimal cognitive outcomes.
· Cognitive development is one of three significant branches or domains of development; the other two are motor/physical and social/emotional development. Construction of thought processes are marked by increasingly advanced abilities in thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving as children move from infancy to early childhood, later childhood and adolescence.
Factors Which Influence Cognitive Development
· BRAIN MATURATION
· ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION
· SOCIAL INTERACTION
Several factors influence cognitive development in infants and children. These include both genetic factors and environmental ones. Brain maturation is essential to cognitive development. Maturation is any permanent change in thought or behaviour that occurs through the biological process of aging without regard to environmental influences. This is a purely biological process; as the child grows, the brain changes.
Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is one of the most recognized in the field. The theory’s central tenet is the child is an active learner who goes through stages where thinking advances as a function of specific underlying mental structures and processes. A group called Neo-Piagetians has expanded the original theory by incorporating an information-processing perspective.
PIAGET’S THEORY OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
STAGES OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Schemes are an organized way of making sense of experiences. These are a representation in the mind of a set of experiences, objects, perceptions or actions that goes together in some way. Schemes enable infants and children to understand their world and even to predict what will happen next. The scheme is a key way that the brain organizes information.
According to Piaget, cognitive development begins with simple sensorimotor action patterns like dropping an object to see what happens. As children get older, the patterns of learning become significantly more complex. The child becomes more deliberate and creative in his actions, showing that thought is occurring prior to the action. For Piaget, development consistently precedes learning.
· Adaptation is one of two processes that explain changes in schemes. Schemes are built through interacting directly with the environment. Adaptation is used to achieve cognitive balance, or what Piaget called equilibrium. When the child is not in a state of balance or equilibrium, changes to the schemes must occur to enable the child to continue to develop and learn. Adaptation occurs when the child feels conflict cognitively between what is believed to be true about the world and what is being experienced. For instance, a child’s scheme of “dog” might be a large dog, like a golden retriever. When the child first meets a chihuahua, the scheme of “dog” must change to recognize that both the golden retriever and the chihuahua are “dogs” even though they look very little like one another.
· ORGANIZATION, A COGNITIVE PROCESS
· NOT DEPENDENT ON ENVIRONMENTAL CONTACT
Organization is the second cognitive process that impacts changes in schemes due to the mind’s natural propensity to develop and grow. In the process of organization, when new schemes are formed, the child mentally rearranges and links to other schemes to form a ‘system’ to organize knowledge into schemes that are related and interconnected. To rely upon the previous examples, the schemes of “dog” and “cat” could be part of a system of “pets” or of a larger system of “animals”.
Stages of Cognitive Development
The stages of cognitive development are four stages where all aspects of cognition develop in integrated manner and change in a similar way at the same time. These stages of development are universal and will proceed in the same order for all children, according to Piaget. The first two stages of cognitive development are most relevant to infancy through older toddlerhood.
The sensorimotor stage spans the first two years of life. There are six substages to account for how much cognitive growth occurs during these years. This stage is called the sensorimotor because to advance cognitively, children this age use their bodies, senses and motor skills to explore the world and manipulate things that they encounter within it.
FIRST TWO STAGES OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
· Substage 1 (birth to one month): Reflexive Schemes. This stage consists entirely of newborn reflexes, including rooting, sucking, grasping, and startling. Newborn infants react similarly regardless of the experience encountered.
The preoperational stage is the second stage in Piaget’s theory, beginning around age two and ending around age seven. Only the very beginning of the stage is relevant for toddlers from ages 24 to 36 months. This stage is called preoperational because thinking does not reliably follow logic or ‘operations’. This lack of logic is visible in a number of different ways in young children.
FANTASY VERSUS REALITY
OTHER TWO STAGES
Piaget’s theory does not answer questions about the underlying mental processes like attention and memory related to developing cognitive processes. A movement called Neo-Piagetian looks to information processing capacity to explain what is happening in each stage and how children move through the individual developmental stages. Information processing includes cognitive systems encompassing a combination of mental capacities like working memory and mental concepts. Several aspects of information processing improve as the child matures, including basic capacity, particularly with regard to working memory, the child’s processing speed and executive functioning, which encompasses a range of cognitive operations and strategies. Executive functioning includes the ability to control attention, suppress impulses, coordinate information in working memory and increase flexibility with thought and behavior.
· SOCIO-CULTURAL THEORY OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
· COMPLEX MENTAL ACTIVITIES ORIGINATE IN SOCIAL INTERACTION
· PRIMARILY APPLIED TO PRESCHOOL AND SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN
Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist, and a contemporary of Piaget. Vygotsky developed the socio-cultural theory of cognitive development. While Piaget believed that cognitive development was universal, Vygotsky emphasized that children’s cultural context impacts how the child’s cognitive world was structured.
Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory of cognitive development revolves around the central tenant that culture and society impact cognition, particularly as skilled others facilitate the child’s budding thinking skills.
Importance of Culture
The socio-cultural theory of cognitive development helps shed light on how culture influences learning and mental strategies. Different cultures value varying thought patterns and ideas. In the West, focusing attention on a single activity is most common, and is valued. Children are supported in directing their attention to a single activity. In Indigenous cultures, children are encouraged to do several activities at once or to multi-task. Culture can be more important where children learn not just through lessons but through their own observations of daily life and activities. Children fall into the pattern and expectations of their own culture because they want to be included in the daily life and experiences of their society.
The skilled other can vary depending upon the child’s culture. In societies or subcultures with extended families, or where siblings care for younger children, these individuals may play a larger role in the child’s learning. Even in Western middle class families, toddlers frequently imitate older siblings, particularly in terms of imaginary play.
Environmental Influences on Early Mental Development
Measurement of mental development in infants and toddlers forms the basis for understanding the influence of physical and psychological aspects of the home and of child-care settings, and subsequently the most effective elements of intervention for those children at-risk for poor cognitive outcomes.
· Measuring Mental Development: In order to know how environmental conditions impact mental development, researchers and practitioners must know the normal or typical range of proficiency for young children. Several different ways of measuring infant and toddler cognitive functioning are used today to assess the range of proficiency. The best of these use large samples and develop the ‘normal distribution’, broken down by age. The normal distribution is often called the norm group.
Influence of the Home Environment
Observation in the natural environment, particularly the home, and parental interviews are also common. The HOME (Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment) checklist is used to gather information about the quality of home life. The HOME checklist has been found to reliably predict language and IQ in toddlerhood and early childhood.
SAFE YET STIMULATING ENVIRONMENT
OBSERVATION AND EXPERIENCE
Influence of Child Care
· More than 60 percent of mothers of infants and toddlers are employed at least part-time. The majority of these use some amount of child care. A smaller number may rely upon shared parental care or extended family care.
Child Care Standards
In many cases, parents are not well informed. They may believe that the child care experience for their child is significantly better than it is. Because they think the care is acceptable, even loving parents do not demand improvement in the childcare facility. When parents are selecting a childcare facility, whether a child care center or a home daycare option, the following are signs of a good facility; however, these may not always accurately reflect the care provided.
· EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAMS
· CENTER-BASED VERSUS HOME-BASED INTERVENTION
· HEAD START
Early intervention programs apply to children at risk for later poor school achievement. These programs include both those directed at children raised in poverty, as well as those aimed at children with developmental disabilities. Children identified as at-risk on the basis of socioeconomic status can benefit from early intervention; these programs can address gradual declines in IQ and poor school achievement. Intervention programs are designed to counteract the effects of poverty. The earlier, longer, and more intensive, the better the results of early intervention programs. Poverty creates a stressful and chaotic homelife with few resources, undermining learning. The lack of a positive home environment, over time, promotes a cycle of poverty.
Cognitive development and language development are connected in fundamental and essential ways. Language is one of the most extraordinary human accomplishments, with the early childhood period being the time most language skills are acquired. Several theories of language development exist with varying degrees of emphasis on the innate abilities and the influence of the environment. There are a number of theories connected to language development. These can be broadly divided into innate abilities and environmental impact.
MAJOR THEORIES OF LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
· The Nativist theory of language development was developed by Noam Chomsky. According to the Nativist theory, language is possible because of innate abilities in the brain. Chomsky believed that grammar was too complex to be taught, so had to be an innate, or inborn, ability. The Nativist theory proposes that all children have a Language Acquisition Device (LAD) in the brain. This LAD is an innate system containing universal grammar or a set of rules common to all languages. The LAD allows children, regardless of their native language, to use these rules once they have mastered a basic range of words.
“Noam Chomsky” by Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina is licensed by CC BY SA 2.0
Individual Differences in Language Development
· LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT RATE VARIES
· GENETIC INFLUENCES
· PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
· ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Language development progresses at a different rate from child to child. The range of when children produce their first words is fairly wide, from 8 months of age to 18 months old. The average age is 12 months due to a complex blend of genetic and environmental influences.
There are cultural differences in language styles from one culture to another, and one language to another. Different cultures may have varied referential vocabulary. Referential vocabulary refers to objects in the environment. Referential language is more common in English speaking Western cultures. Mothers in these cultures are likely to label objects than in some other cultures. Expressive vocabulary refers primarily to feelings and needs. Expressive vocabulary is more common in cultures that value relationships and group membership over individual desires.
Which theory supports the existence of a language acquisition device in the brain?
Stages of cognitive development
Interactionist theories of development
Nativist theories of development
Socio-cultural cognitive development
I don’t know
You answered 0 out of 0 correctly. Asking up to 2.
In this lesson, you have discussed theories of cognition, or thinking and reasoning skills, including language. Both heredity and environment impact the cognitive ability of growing children. Key theorists in cognitive development include the work of Piaget on developmental stages, Neo-Piagetian theories that integrate information processing into Piaget’s theories, and Vygotsky’s theory of socio-cultural cognitive development.
INFORMATION PROCESSING PERSPECTIVE
SOCIAL INTERACTIONIST PERSPECTIVE
ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT
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· Center for Parent Information and Resources. Overview of Early Intervention. Retrieved from http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/ei-overview/.
· Encyclopedia of Children’s Health. (n.d.). Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Retrieved from http://www.healthofchildren.com/B/Bayley-Scales-of-Infant-Development.html.
· Huitt, W., & Hummel, J. (2003). Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/cognition/piaget.html.
· Lemetyinen, Henna. Language Acquisition Theories. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/language.html.
· Psychology Campus. (2008) Cognitive Development. Retrieved from http://www.psychologycampus.com/cognitive-psychology/cognitive-development.html.
· University at Buffalo.(n.d.). Cognitive Development. Retrieved from http://gse.buffalo.edu/fas/shuell/cep564/lectures/cogdev.htm.