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Observation of Child in Support of Piaget's Theory

Essay by   •  June 27, 2015  •  Case Study  •  656 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,186 Views

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Here I will discuss my observation of a 23-month old female child who is born of maltese father and foreign mother and is being brought up in Malta.  The child falls within Piaget’s Sensorimotor Stage, which in turn is divided into six substages.  The Sensorimotor is the first stage of cognitive learning because the baby is born with only a limit of skills, such as looking, listening, sucking and grasping.  At the start of an infant’s life Piaget argues that she can only respond to the immediate stimuli.  However, he says that this will start changing at around the age of 18 months when the toddler enters into the “Early Representational Thought”.  This stage terminates around 24 months of age and brings also to term the Sensorimotor Stage.

In “Early Representational Thought” the child will start learning what is referred to as object permanence.  It is during this stage, Piaget maintains, that a child will be able to remember objects, actions or people from one experience to another, i.e. will have mental representations.

“Children begin to develop symbols to represent events or objects in the world in the final sensorimotor substage. During this time, children begin to move towards understanding the world through mental operations rather than purely through actions.”

http://psychology.about.com/od/piagetstheory/p/sensorimotor.htm

For this observation I prepared a Minnie Mouse soft toy which the child already has in her repertoire of playthings, a video of the same character and a board larger than the girls herself which I later used as a screen to protect the child from seeing her toy.  While playing I was constantly saying the toy’s name to her, i.e. Minnie.  After that I let her play with the toy long enough until she wanted to play with something else.  For the time being I held Minnie Mouse away so she could hold her attention on something new.  While she was playing I put up the screen in preparation for the experiment.  Following some time, I called the child’s attention to play together with Minnie Mouse.  I held the toy in my hands and was making the soft toy move in a way to resemble dancing, keeping an eye so that as soon as the girl is distracted I hide the toy behind the screen.  

At this point I wanted to show the child that the game consisted of me hiding Minnie Mouse behind the screen.  When the child looked again she stopped in her tracks calling “Minnie” because she did not see the toy.  This for me was already enough proof that the child could recall that she was playing with something particular and hence the theory of “object permanence”.  I showed her where Minnie was hiding and she came running behind the screen to get her favourite playmate at the moment.  When she found it there she showed self-satisfaction and pleasure.  This time when I wanted to hide the toy I let the child deliberately see that I was hiding it.  In itself this was a game of hide and seek between Minnie and the little girl.  

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