The Play Years
Early childhood is often characterized by endless make-believe and sociodramatic play which indicates the development of mental representation. Sociodramtic play differs from simple make-believe play in that it involves play with peers. This stage of play is often referred to as the Preoperational Stage. This is the stage immediately after Piaget's Sensorimotor Stage. The Preoperational Stage spans from two to about five or six years of age. At this stage, according to Piaget, children acquire skills in the area of mental imagery, and especially language. They are very self-oriented, and have an egocentric view; that is, preoperational children can use these representational skills only to view the world from their own perspective (http://web.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/P/piaget's_stages.html).
Throughout early childhood, children's preoperational cognitive development is observed. Egocentrism -- being unaware of any perspectives other then their own -- is often seen is children ranging from two to six or seven years. Piaget's three mountain problem illustrates this phenomenon clearly; that is, children who looked at three mountain peaks, designated by different colors, could not pick a picture representing the three peaks from a doll's point of view. Instead, the pictures represented their own point of view.
Conservation problems also are c...
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