According to Piaget, preoperational stage takes place between the ages of two and seven. The most remarkable landmark during this stage is the language development of a child. During this stage children do not understand the complicated language, they cannot take the opinion and point of view of the people who surround them, and they are not able to handle information cognitively. It thus becomes essential for a guardian, parents or teachers handling children of this age to choose comprehensive strategies that can effectively work with a child, according to Piaget.
The chosen strategy must take care of the child’s necessities during the preoperational stage. This is because it is at the stage that children become more and more proficient at using symbols. An effective family, guardian or teachers must choose a strategy that fits a particular situation or age bracket. While choosing a strategy, it is essential to reflect what the child can do and already knows so as to determine the learning objectives for the particular situation. While choosing any strategy, the teacher or family needs to remain observant and flexible, so that the most effective strategy can be chosen. Although the various strategies available can be used interchangeably, the following will work effectively with a child in the Piaget’s preoperational stage.
This involves encouragement and furnishing support to a child. It entails putting effort and persistence rather than just evaluating and praising what the child has achieved or done. During the preoperational stage which occurs at the age of two to seven, a child is in the process of developing an ability to use the language and think in a symbolic manner. Encouraging the child whenever he or she utters a word such as dad or mum will make the child develop his or her speech. This is because the child’s thinking is still not developed. Although children at this period begin talking to themselves and trying to get solutions to problems, encouraging them will help them to develop their smell, touching and exploring abilities. A child can be encouraged through giving examples of words which then the child tries to pronounce or speak. This helps a child in getting the meanings of these words and also reduces generalization of things.
The family members and teachers give hints or a cue to a child. This will then make the child work on what he or she currently knows. It can also entail pronouncing of the first sound of a word and letting the child finish the whole word. During the preoperational stage children learn the language and gain an understanding of more complex things like mathematics or arithmetic.
Creating or Adding Challenges
This entails making things more concrete for a child. Tasks already known to a child go a bit higher beyond what the child has already learnt or known. It can involve children giving them some work or pronouncing more difficult words.
How to Foster these Strategies
To foster these strategies, caregivers and parents should plan preoperational period activities that work well with the children’s development. These activities must make learning, entertaining and fun to the child so that the child remains engaged despite these activities being challenging. To foster encouragement, smell games can be organized. This will increase the child’s sensory ability. The cognitive part of the brain that is involved with smell perception will thus become developed. To achieve this, a collection of some strong smelling items can be presented to the children. The collection may contain roses, fruits or mint. The child is the encouraged to use only his sense of smell to identify the items.
Creating or adding the challenge may be fostered by laying a collection of chips which the teacher or parent counts together with the child. The teacher then removes some items and asks a group of children to count the remaining. To add a challenge to this, the teacher can hide some of the chips after removing them. This will make the children use some other strategies to come up with a correct answer (Flavell, 2002). This will help in the cognitive development of the child by enhancing a child’s comprehension ability. It will help the child in thinking in a systematic way that is not rigid to what the child already knows. The child will be forced to use some other knowledge to come up with solutions to the situations, should the already known methods prove futile.
In giving assistance, the strategy can be fostered by identifying tasks or activities that prove to be difficult to the child. The parent or the teacher then spends more time in simplifying these tasks or activities so that they are no longer a challenge to the child (Hinson, 2001). Giving assistance informs of a cue and hints will help in inciting the thinking process of a child and thus enhance the child’s cognitive development.
How these Strategies Help in Diminishing Limitations during the Preoperational Stage
During preoperational period between the ages of four to seven, centration tends to develop. It is the tendency in which a child focuses on only one object, situation or problem. The strategy of adding or creating a challenge will make the child not to focus on only one problem, object or situation. It will make the child think in a broad dimension.
This is a child’s inability to observe a situation from another person’s point of view. Since the child assumes that all people hear, see and feel exactly as he or she does, creating or adding challenge, giving assistance and encouraging makes the child realize that other people have different thinking capabilities.