Intellectual Development and Meeting Children’s Intellectual Needs
Learning and understanding child development is directly related to cognitive and developmental psychology. Some popular theorists in this area are Jerome Bruner and Jean Piaget. Many of these individuals believed that children learn by building upon knowledge and experiences they learned before.
Jean Piaget Theories
Jean Piaget suggested that two methods that people process new information are through assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is when new information is accepted by connecting it to previous experience. Accommodation is accepting new information that is completely different from other things experienced in the past. Piaget suggests four stages of development: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational.
Jerome Bruner Theories
Jerome Bruner stated that people learned through representation and maintained that as long as a student is given information in a prescribed order, they will be able to process and learn it. To start with, the student must engage the new information, called inactive representation. Next, the student must engage through images, called iconic representation. Finally, the student must engage through language, called symbolic representation. Additionally, Bruner stated that people categorise new information as they receive it.
Development during Infancy
Infants will begin by reacting to the world through simple, innate reflexes. As they grow and develop, they begin to learn how to maintain control of reactions/responses. The important developmental steps in the first year include the ability to intentionally move and to recognise that they can move objects. Additionally, an infant will learn what is called object permanence- an object continues to exist even when you can’t see it.
Development During Early Childhood
Following the first year, a child will develop speech and will mimic actions and words of other people. Important at this age is the ability of association- being able to put an object and a picture/object together. They will also begin to group objects together and categorise them into larger groups and understanding same/similar/different. The abstract and logical thinking will develop later on.
Intellectual Development Through Play
Playtime is critical for a child’s intellectual development. It is through play that they will develop their creativity and imagination. Additionally, they learn how to interact with others. Play helps develop problem-solving skills and helps them learn how to take risks and handle new situations. Allow children to play every single day- especially when they are very young. Allow them outside to play if possible, no matter what the weather. Finally, allow them to play alone and together with others.
Intellectual Development through Reading
Another key to intellectual development is reading. From an early age, you should be sharing books with your child. Make sure to have a variety of reading material from fiction to non-fiction, to catalogues, to information books. Reading should be fun. Always encourage children to become involved with the stories. Consider joining your local library or book exchange.
Intellectual Development through Trips/Visits
Go out and visit local art galleries and museums. You can find many that are free or low-cost. Even if you believe your child is too young to understand art, just looking at paintings, sculptures, and the like will stimulate emotions and ideas in them. Additionally, many museums have activities and workshops for children, especially when school is on holiday.
Intellectual Development through Talking
Sit down with your child and just talk- it doesn’t have to be anything grand, but it doesn’t have to be overly simple either. Just talk about everything. Explain to them how the vacuum works when you’re cleaning. When you’re out and about, talk about what you’re seeing. Allow your child to ask questions about what is going on, and what they’re seeing, hearing, or feeling at a given moment. As your child grows older, discuss other things such as what you’re seeing on the news or reading in the paper.
No matter what theory of development you prescribe to, there are many things you can do to encourage intellectual development in your child. Try out some of these activities; you may be surprised at the results.