Last Saturday as I clocked out of work, I walked to the front of the museum to where our children’s toy store is located.
As I walked around the store looking for a present for my nephew, I thought to myself that this would be a perfect opportunity to observe a child and their parent. As I came across a shelf full of educational toys, to the right of me I could hear a little girl around the age of three or four giggling and talking. I could not exactly see who she was giggling and talking with, but I decided to observe anyway. Eventually, her father came from around the corner and I could hear him telling her that the toy she had in her hand was the same one that she had at home just a different color. As, he prompted her to pick another toy to take home she began to cry. While comforting her, he proceeded to walk around the store with his daughter in his arms even though she was still crying. A couple moments later, her father put her down and showed her Magna-Tiles which are magnetic tiles with multiple shapes that allow you to build anything you want.
There was a display out, and the father showed his daughter to her forgetting the toy and wanting to play with the new discovery she had just made. As I observed the child realize that the objects her father was showing her were also toys, I thought about Piaget’s Organization by Cognitive Schema processes. As mentioned in Child Development from Infancy to Adolescence, Organization by Cognitive Schema contains two different processes. One process known as Assimilation is the experience that the child has and can immediately relate to because of existing schemas. Secondly, Accommodating is the experience that the child cannot relate to past schemas because the experience is genuinely new. Additionally, our book gives an excellent example in which the child is presented with a different kind of sandwich but can assimilate with it because she has had a sandwich before. Whereas the second exhibit of food presents itself as crab that has not been taken out of its shell yet, the child then accommodates rather than assimilates (Levine 180). Ultimately, when accommodating to something it will be added to the child’s existing schemas.
In my observation, the father could show his daughter the assimilation process in which she realized that the Magna-Tiles were toys too just like the toy she had at home. This experience for her was added into her pre-existing schema of toys. To better understand these two concepts, an article called Active Learning: The Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Constructivist Theory Perspectives makes and emphasis on adaptation having a strong correlation with the two processes. The article states “in the context of human learning, the basic mechanism of adaptation that leads to cognitive advancement…is composed of…assimilation and accommodation”(Pardjono 4). This demonstrates that while two processes are different, children are making connections through them and the new experiences. Moreover, Child Development from Infancy to Adolescence also states that as children learn to accommodate to new experiences, their schemas such as toys in my observation are modified and reestablish equilibrium for the child. For this observation, Piaget would focus on the child’s reaction that she had towards the new toy.
The child’s reaction shows that she had not seen toys like that before which leads me to the thought process that the girl was exhibiting. Because she had never seen this kind of toy, she was most likely thinking that based on the appearance it would not be a toy. While the little girl displayed this reaction, I think she was in the Sensorimotor Stage.
In the Sensorimotor stage “Piaget believed infants organize their world by the means of their senses” (Levine 181). Child Development from Infancy to Adolescence explains that a child will not know that a rattle is a toy by just looking at it, the child needs to shake the rattle in order to know that it is a toy. In comparison to that example, the little girl in the toy store needed to play with the Magna-Tiles so that she could figure out that it was a toy.