Guide Your Child's Intellectual Development, Part 3

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In the first two blog posts in this series, I discussed how children learn and reviewed Piaget’s four basic units of knowledge that serve as the building blocks for understanding. Starting today, I will break down the stages in more detail, starting with an overview of the preschool years, which we call The Smart Explorer stage.

THE SMART EXPLORER

Age: 3 to 5 years (preschool)
Stage: Initiative and Independence vs. Guilt and Lack of Self-assurance

What is important about the intellectual skills in this post is that they are coordinated with the advice to encourage emotional maturity as well. What is distinctive about the advice in this blog is that we integrate two learning tracks – the emotional and the intellectual. Unless your child strives to mature in both emotional and intellectual spheres at once, she will not be able to achieve her optimal potential. On the other hand, if she is pursuing and integrating both areas of knowledge at the same time, she will be able to tap reserves of her brain that may surprise and delight both of you.

Overview of the Smart Explorer Stage

This stage is a very exciting and important one. By around age five, your child will have reached half of her capacity for learning, according to educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom. She will embark upon her first experiences with attending school, following directions, and getting along in larger group settings.

As a parent, you will begin to see your little baby become an increasingly competent member of the community – physically and linguistically. Your child is taking charge of her daily routines. She is busy, busy, busy!

Primarily, your child is busy playing. Play is the very important work your child does during this stage. Through all kinds of play she comes to understand the world and her place in it. Children take to it naturally. This is a joyful stage for parent and child. You can help enhance your child’s progress most effectively simply by encouraging her to explore new materials and ideas, to use her senses, and to employ her body in a relaxed and expressive way.

For parents, there is great delight in watching your child unfold. For children, there is enormous pleasure basking in the parents’ delight. And for both of you, there is a great deal of fun to be derived from the games themselves, as you both play and learn.

Major Developmental Task Checklist

Here is a checklist of the major developmental tasks your child will be working on during this period. Remember, here, as in every stage, each child learns at her own pace. Any timetable for mastery of various skills is a guideline, not a train schedule.

At this stage, your child should be able to:

* Gain greater mastery over physical and motor skills

* Become more skilled at symbolic thinking and the use of language

* Master the concepts of counting, sorting and classifying objects

* Begin to develop a sense of morality and a sense of self-evaluation

* Continue to develop a mature sense of autonomy

* Develop initiative

* Expand relationships with their peers

Continuing in the series, the next blog post will review some of the important environmental factors that play a role in the intellectual development at ages 3 to 5.