A child is taught to walk and talk for the first couple of years of life and to sit and be silent for the rest of the time. Most adults are aware of the importance of oral speech in the development of children’s thinking, but children’s endless and incoherent chatter quickly tires them out. Quite related phrases like “Why is the sky blue?”, “Why does the kitty meow?” and other endless “why” are even more tiresome. Meanwhile, speech thinking is an important component in the development of both thinking and speech.
Try to develop and explore the world as if with children again, and the process of learning will play with new colors. Endless children’s “why” will be a source of inspiration and reason for you to think.
In the meantime, let’s talk about language thinking, so we understand what it is, and do not inadvertently slow down the development of their children, preventing them from expressing their thoughts in a way that is accessible to their level of development.
In its most general form, verbal thinking is thinking during speech and speech during thinking. It is the ability to formulate a thought in a format suitable for transmission in written or oral form, and in such a way that this thought is understood by others. Thus, speech thinking is closely related to both the speech process and the thought process.
Scheme of speech thinking:
Let us specify that this is the scheme of adult speech thinking. Verbal thinking in children passes certain stages of development before the child masters a sufficient body of knowledge to operate with a vocabulary and conceptual apparatus for the formation of internal and external speech. What are the components of speech thinking?
The central link in the chain of development of thinking and speech is the relation of thought to a word. This is completely logical, since a word is a conditional unit of speech, and a thought is a conditional unit of the thought process.
It is self-evident that a word is not identical with a thought, because an adult, due to various social restrictions, cannot voice everything that comes into his head. However, such identity is an obligatory stage of children’s development, when they are as if talking to themselves, giving out the thoughts that come into their head in a language that is accessible to them.
At the same time, even in an adult, a thought does not equal the meaning of “speech minus sound. What, then, should be the unit of speech thinking? We propose to consider the meaning of a word as the unit of speech thinking, and this also makes sense.
Every word should be seen as a kind of generalization of something because any word refers to a group of phenomena and objects, not to one thing in isolation. Even if we use a word for a particular creature or phenomenon (cat, dog, hurricane, rain), we understand that we can call any cat, dog, hurricane, or rain with that word.
Thus, a word’s meaning is a unit not only of speech thinking, but also a unit of thinking, as such, and a unit of communicative function of speech, because communication is an attempt to convey our thoughts to others, using words with a definite and relevant to our thoughts.
Speaking of thinking, it is impossible to ignore such a concept as “human intellect”. In this sense, the relation of thinking and speech to the rest of the development of consciousness is a question of the relationship between intellect and affect, i.e., the volitional component of the human psyche.
The system of meanings expressed in words is a unity of intellectual and volitional processes, and any idea contains a human affective attitude toward reality. Thanks to this unity, we can observe the movement from a person’s need to a certain direction of his thought and the reverse movement from thought to behavior and concrete activity. So, how does the development of speech thinking occur?
The origins of all these rather complex processes we have just talked about are formed in early childhood. The Swiss educator and psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) studied this process in great detail.
For example, he allocated certain features of children’s thinking and speech. He established that children’s thinking is characterized by egocentrism, intellectual realism, lack of understanding of relationships, difficulty in comprehension, inability to self-observe, and other distinctive features. In this case, Piaget, examining the differences between adults and children, emphasized not what the child can`t do, but what he, unlike an adult, can do, and how it helps him in development.
We have already begun to talk about the simultaneity of thought and speech as a necessary phase of child development. Thinking and speech young children are practically synchronous, and Jean Piaget saw this as a certain logic of development. Conversation with oneself, a child’s voicing of all the thoughts that come into his or her head is a kind of training, a step toward the formation of meaningful speech, without which communication and information exchange are impossible. This stage of development has its peculiarities.
The main activity of any baby is games and other object activities, because no other activities, due to its development, it can`t yet engage in. In the modern world, a wide variety of exciting applications are often used for child development.
As the child develops, there is an increase in the complexity of the subject activity. Thus, little older children can make cakes out of the sand, roll a toy car, try to imitate the movements of animals they have seen or the way adults work. For example, sawing boards, digging the ground, rolling a stroller, etc. Accordingly, the child’s life experience is enriched and the basis for future generalizations in thinking activity continues to expand.
Later children already begin to mold with plasticine and draw with pencils and paints, glue applique and assemble figures from a construction set. This, too, contributes to the accumulation of experience and intellectual development. The connection between the development of fine motor skills and the formation of neural connections in the brain was established long ago. That is why it is so important to involve children in activities that develop dexterity of fingers and precision of complex movements and to stimulate their interest in new practical activities.
Thus, children’s understanding of the world and the accumulation of knowledge goes through practical activities, solving practical problems. What is the connection between the development of thinking and speech? There are several aspects. Thus, through oral speech, children receive information about the world around them, about what and how it is called, what you can do and what you can’t do, how exactly you should do something. For example, how to assemble a construction set, hold a spoon, tie shoelaces.
The word as a unit of speech contains a denotation of the object, phenomenon, action, and state. At the same time, the word has a certain generalizing function. Above we began to say that, denoting a specific object, a living being, or phenomenon with a specific word, we are laying the foundation for subsequent recognition and generalization of similar objects, animals, phenomena in the brain of a child. After showing a baby a cat and calling it “cat” once, we have the right to expect that when he sees some other cat, he will orient himself toward the fact that it is also a cat.
A physically and mentally healthy child learns this generalizing function of language fairly quickly. Mental grouping of objects or phenomena into groups on some basis is a new, higher level of thinking activity. Of course, children are not immediately able to distinguish the main systemic feature for combining something into a group and labeling it with the word responsible for designating objects in this group. But this skill gradually improves.
This is especially noticeable in the child’s third year. Thus, the child initiates family communication when he or she wants or asks for something: a toy, candy, a walk, to watch a cartoon. To get exactly what he or she wants, the child needs to articulate his or her thoughts so that adults understand his or her desires, and this is also an important stage in the development of verbal thinking.
A child’s speech becomes social and meaningful quite early, and speech reasoning is a prerequisite for this.
This is especially noticeable when the child begins to strive for independence and when he or she forms, if I may say so his or her social connections. Language becomes a means of transmitting information and a means of communication not only with adults but also with other children. For example, during joint play. Interest in speech, which is not directly addressed to the child, emerges and children learn to understand and perceive it.
The German philosopher and psychologist William Stern (1871-1938) did a tremendous job analyzing the development of preschool-age children, which he summarized in his book “The Psychology of Early Childhood to Six Years of Age. He showed that a child’s speech becomes social and meaningful quite early, and speech thinking is a necessary condition for this.
It is especially noticeable when the child begins to strive for independence and when he or she forms, if I may say so his or her social connections. Language becomes a means of transmitting information and a means of communication not only with adults but also with other children. For example, during joint play. Interest in speech, which is not directly addressed to the child, emerges and children learn to understand and perceive it.
At this stage, it is important to help the child learn to formulate simple sentences correctly, improve the grammatical structure of speech in general and help enrich the child’s vocabulary at an understandable level. Then the child will be able to understand the message, even if the subject of the message is not in sight. Then he or she will understand a story or fairy tale, even if a visual illustration is not provided.
No less useful can be “reverse” training. For example, to offer a child to tell what is happening in a picture.
Here it is very important to give children age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate tasks, and in any case, do not show negativity if the child cannot cope with the task as well as adults want.
To illustrate, here is an example often used in the pedagogical literature. Most children, after looking at a picture of a boy wiping his face with a towel, easily answer the question, “What is the boy doing?” However, not everyone can quickly recreate the chain of events and answer what the boy was doing before he started wiping his face, even if the picture clearly shows him standing near a sink, water is running from the faucet, and the boy was washing his face.
It is even more difficult for a small child to assume what the boy in the picture will do next, even though it is obvious that he is not dressed in casual clothes and that he should get dressed to continue the day. Here it may be necessary to have adults help the child recreate the picture of the event, for example, by offering to recall how the child is going to kindergarten himself. This can be very effective help. Of course, provided that adults have already taught the child to wash and dress himself or herself, and not to do it for him or her, wishing to save time on gathering.
That’s why the main emphasis in the development of verbal thinking is always on the practical side of things, getting a child’s own sensory practical experience, not just explaining to adults “as it should be. Now let’s summarize and summarize the factors that affect the formation of speech thinking.
The first and foremost thing that can interfere with the full mental and speech development of children is the lack of their own sensory practical experience and object activity. The problem is larger and broader than it may seem at first glance. A well-founded fear for the child’s health, many parents, and especially grandmothers, transform into a series of endless prohibitions: do not go, do not touch, do not climb, etc.
Of course, safety must be in the first place, and it may well be provided by civilized methods. So, at the initial stage of activity, when a child is just beginning to master the simplest of movements – pulling, pulling, touching – it is necessary to remove far away and raise all piercing, cutting, breaking objects and close electrical outlets, so the baby just could not reach all of the above. Then the excessive tutelage will not be an obstacle to the baby’s development.
The second thing that can interfere with the formation of speech thinking and speech and thinking itself is an overemphasis on early development techniques. Early development does not mean that it is unequivocally good or unequivocally bad. All children develop at an individual pace, and it is important not to overload a child.
You should not be too hasty with the teaching of reading and writing. You should always remember that oral speech is primary, and learning to write or read fluently without the skills of mental formulation and oral vocalization (pronunciation) of your thoughts is simply unrealistic. Literacy is not an end in itself, but a means of effective communication and a means of conveying one’s thoughts. So first you have to learn how to form them into a coherent sentence, and only then work on the grammar.
It is not necessary to delay the transition to the next stage of development if it is obvious that the child is developing at a fast pace and is already cramped in the existing frameworks.
Therefore, if the child already aspires to do something and understand something, but cannot yet cope with it without assistance, this is the most opportune moment to help him or her gain new knowledge and new experience. It concerns not only preschool age and early stages of formation of speech thinking, intellect, and other abilities.
It is also relevant at the stage of mastering the school program when the bar to strive for will always be a little higher than the level of knowledge at which the pupil is.
And finally, normal development, including the development of language thinking, is of great importance to the physical and mental health of the child. Therefore, it is very important to see a doctor on time if there are worrisome moments in the health and development of the child, if speech defects are observed or the apparent inability to formulate even a simple thought when the ability to speak has already been formed.
In most cases, minor deviations in development are corrected with modern techniques. If a serious condition is detected, however, the chances of successful treatment are greater if treatment is started as early as possible. And for this, there should be a timely visit to the doctor to be able to quickly make a diagnosis. Now let’s summarize the above.
What can prevent the development of speech thinking:
Note that the development of speech thinking does not end in childhood or adolescence. Earlier we have already found out that speech thinking is thinking during speech and speech during thinking. It is the ability to formulate a thought in a format suitable for transmission in written or oral form, and in a way that the thought can be understood by others. Thus, verbal thinking is closely related to both the process of speech and the thought process.
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