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Allie Mendenhall

Child Development
10/20/2015
Lab #3: Thinking and Learning
Nate is a three year old in the child lab this semester. He is
interesting to observe because since he doesnt say much, his actions
speak for him. I have spent a lot of time with Nate in the lab, and I
have spent a good amount of time focusing on his thinking and
learning behaviors.
Nate seems to show curiosity about new things, being hesitant at
first, but then slowly easing up once he becomes accustomed to
whatever it is. For example, one day Nate was having a hard time
trying to decide what to do after his mom dropped him off. I asked him
if he wanted to go play with Mr. Potato Head, and reluctantly he said
yes. I could tell he was thinking about which part of the body to
connect where, so I started prompting him with questions. I would pick
up the nose and say Are these his feet? Nate would shake his head
no. I did it again and again with different body parts until Nate started
to giggle and began pointing out the body parts to me and calling
them by name. He experimented with which body parts went where,
until he felt like Mr. Potato Head had everything he needed.
Nate asks questions, but only once he feels comfortable. He
seems curious about his surroundings, and I can tell that he is
constantly observing even when he is not speaking. The other day,
while the students were arriving, Patrick poured half of the fish food
into Bubbles bowl. I immediately took the bowl into the kitchen and
tried to rescue poor Bubbles. What I didnt realize was that Nate
witnessed the whole thing. Later that day, when we were sitting down
to lunch, the event was still on his mind. He asked me Why did you
take the fish out of the room? I told him what had happened and he
began to ask me more questions about Bubbles What does he eat,
how old is he, and so on. His questions and his growing curiosity
once he started talking make me think that he is actively searching for
answers to explain the environment around him.
Nates ability to think back to this event, even though it wasnt
occurring at the time of our discussion, shows evidence of the fact that
he is in what Piaget would refer to as the preoperational stage (ages 27). Piaget said that one of the defining differences between the
sensorimotor stage and the preoperational stage is how the child
thinks. Nate was demonstrating his ability to recall a previous
experience (or memory) mentally, and then he further demonstrated
his thinking/learning ability by asking questions to reflect on
connections and develop knew schema. This simple conversation
demonstrated a huge step in Nates cognitive development.