1.) There are 4 types of development. Physical development covers the learning of the ability to walk. It also encompasses all muscle development, and the idea that the person generally becomes more physically efficient over time.
Cognitive development deals with the development of a way to think. For example, an infant tends to over generalize information. If he sees an animal and is told that it is a dog, any furry animal with 4 legs and a tale will be considered a dog. As cognitive development progresses, a person learns to be specific. We also build a sense of problem solving.
Personal development refers to the changes in an individual’s personality. As time progresses, and people learn new information, they develop their own opinions. Fact becomes their own knowledge and not just what their parent’s tell them.
Social development is the maturing of a person’s ability to socialize. They build up ways to relate to others. They find ways to make friends or to accomplish group goals. For example, children meeting at a playground, and becoming “best friends”.
These types of development are governed by certain principles, which are accepted throughout the psychology field.
First, people develop at different rates. Also some people will develop only certain types of development quickly, while being slower at others. For an example, look to any nursery school class. It is a virtual melting pot of development. Some children may due exceptionally well at physical activities, while doing badly at anything that requires thinking, or vice versa.
Secondly, there is a basic order to development. Children generally crawl before learning to walk. A child must master basic functions before going on to more advanced situations.
Lastly, development takes place over time. Information must be gathered and processed, and especially for infants, and young children, this takes a lot. Whether it is learning to play catch, or learning to play an instrument, the basic concepts are the hardest to acquire, but once the foundation is formed, more advanced information tends to come quicker.
2. A scheme is a term keyed by Piaget, to define the categories on which we place information. They are the building blocks of information. We have a scheme for basically everything, from driving a car to identifying a cat. The number of schemes grows in time. They allow us to organize information into very specific categories, almost like a term paper outline, with main topics and subdivisions of the concept.
Assimilation is a term referring to our natural tendency to fit new knowledge into what we already know. A child may have been told that an animal is a horse. However, upon seeing a giraffe the child may classify it as a horse. The scheme for a giraffe hadn’t been developed, so he assimilated it to what he knew. As the skill of assimilation grows, adapting to situations becomes easier.
Accommodation, is the ability to change existing schemes. It usually takes place when assimilation seems impossible, and knew information must be organized. Perhaps a child is use to drinking out of a bottle, where he can tilt the bottle all the way up. When he first tries to drink from a cup, chances are he will spill the drink all over his face. He now must change his scheme for drinking to accommodate for the possibility of a cup. This change allows him to adapt to drinking from a cup.
According to Piaget, the development of information, through organization, assimilating, etc. is similar to a “balancing act”. If an existing scheme appears applicable to a situation, and it works, a person is comfortable, or in equilibrium.
If a scheme doesn’t work, we search for the solution, because we are in disequilibrium. Through this almost trial and error process we develop new schemes, and thus are able to organize and adapt at a greater pace.
3. The first of Piaget’s stages of cognitive development is the sensorimotor stage. During this stage (ages 0-2) the child is experimenting using his 5 senses. One major accomplishment is the ability to control their actions, or goal directed actions. Movements begin to organize themselves to achieve certain outcomes, like getting the toys into a container.
The second stage is titled the “pre operational” stage. This time period(2-5) includes to start of understanding language, and truly linking operations logically. They begin to utilize symbols or miming, to signify certain events. This is a major accomplishment at this stage.
The third stage is the concrete operational stage. Here the child is able to problem solve. They are able to classify things, like having a group of objects, and picking out the round ones. Seriation is the ability to arrange items from large to small. This also means that the concrete operational child can relate ideas to one another.
The final stage is formal operations. At this time, thinking is specific, and relatively precise towards a goal. The child achieves to mental capacity to fathom hypothetical questions, and solve them. This makes topics like algebra teachable.
4. Vygotsky’s idea of the “zone of proximal development” is the idea of a child having an area of learning that is impossible to acquire without outside influence. Parents often inflict knowledge on a child, to help them grasp a situation. The amount of added information, or “scaffolding” generally decreases over time.