Understanding your child (2 – 7 years)

preoperationalThe pre-operational cognitive stage of children aged 2 – 7 years (according to Piaget) is characterised by a rapidly increasing thought process, based on communication and problem solving. This stage is further sub-categorised into 2 sub-stages.

2-4 years – Symbolic function stage – At this stage your child will acquire the ability to think of something that is not physically there. He is able to represent his ideas through drawing, gesture and speech, which is why this is the prime time for pretend play/role play. Activities such as felt animal imaginative play, drawing on this chalkboard table, these 50+ small world ideas and 3 little pigs play will help build your child’s imagination. Your child will often pretend one object is another, such as a banana is a telephone or some grass is pasta for lunch.


A child at this stage will show egocentric tendencies – which means he can only think of the world from his point of view. He believes that everyone will think, feel and react in the way that he does and cannot understand other’s opinions (hence the difficulty in sharing). Activities to help overcome this (and build on social skills) include pom pom turn-taking, the ball pass tunnel game and this book about sharing and friendship.


A child in this stage will also display animistic thinking – in which he believes that inanimate objects (such as dolls, trees and toys) have thoughts, feelings and wishes, just like he does. He might state that “the trees must be cold today” or “teddy is sad, he fell over”.

4-7 years – Intuitive thought stage – This is the stage where your child is beginning to organise his thinking. It is classed as intuitive thought, as although the child can carry out mental tasks, he does not yet understand how or why; he is operating on perception and intuition.

He probably likes to classify, order and quantify items and structure can seem very important to him. As this is the time many children start school, it links in nicely with the order of a child at this stage.  These activities provide perfect opportunity to practice these skills: Foam mosiacs, alphabet beads, nature patterns and consonant sound mats.


Hope this helps keep your little ones busy 🙂 xx


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