Cognitive/Social Development of the Elementary Student

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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 t... ... middle of paper ... ...ms Research, 9 (1-2), 92-103. Noble, T. (2004). Integrating the revised bloom's taxonomy with multiple intelligences: A planning tool for curriculum differentiation. Teachers College Record, 106(1), 193-211. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2004.00328. Ormrod, J. E. (2012). Motivation and affect. In Davis, K. & Smith, P. (Eds), Human learning (455-461). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Pellegrini, A. D., & Bohn, C. M. (2005). The Role Of Recess In Children's Cognitive Performance And School Adjustment. Educational Researcher, 34(1), 13-19. Ryan, K., & Cooper, J. M. (2004). Those who can, teach. (10th ed.). Boston (Mass.) etc: Houghton Mifflin. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Watson, J. (2001). Social constructivism in the classroom. Support for Learning, 16 (3), 140-147.
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