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Cognitive/Social Development Of The Elementary Student

1240 words - 5 pages

The elementary years are full of major milestones of both cognitive and social development. These elementary milestones as described by Piaget include primarily the concrete operational stage where children develop logical thinking skills including the ability to distinguish personal thinking skills (Bukatko and Daehler, 2012). Elementary educators and care givers have a responsibility to provide and environment rich in play and peer interaction as well as focused on the appropriate zone of proximal development, pushing towards the development of higher level thinking skills.
Beginning with play, specifically through "rough and tumble play” young children gain an understanding of social cues as well as contribute to cognitive development (Bjourkland, 1998). There has been a trend in school in both North America and Great Britain to minimize the amount of recess in favor of increasing academic time. While this practice may seem intuitive, with the focus being of closing academic gaps, it is more urgent to recognize the importance of active free time on cognitive development (Bjourkland, 1998). The cognitive immaturity hypothesis presents the idea that play promotes perseverance and confidences and limits cognitive interference (Pellegrini, 2005). The importance of the development of social skills or social responsibility through peer play must not only be frequent but unstructured. Unstructured recess time allows students to come back to the classroom more attentive to academic tasks (Pellegrini, 2005). Play as a guide for learning is additionally supported by Piaget as key pillars to his theory include children as “active and motivated learners” who interaction with the physical environment as well as other people as critical to their development (Ormrod, 2012). Learning through play is a milestone of elementary aged development and includes many benefits including creativity, practice of social roles and decision making skills in addition to increasing physical activity (Ginsberg, 2007). Social pretend play promotes cognition, language and social competence. Vygotsky's theory of play states that natural play must contain both an imaginary situation and the voluntarily accepted rules that govern the situation (Pellengrini, 2005).
Play beings to look different through elementary school as children’s interactions with one another begin to mature, but communication remains crucial. Peer communication contributes to the achievement of elementary milestones as learning is a shared social activity embedded in classroom interactions. This ideal of social constructivism is supported by one of the pillars of Vygotsky’ theory of sociocultural development, the zone of proximal development (ZPD) (Lecusay, Rossen &Cole, 2008). The ZPD is defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in...

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