THE FIVE-SEVEN SHIFT
1 All major theories of child psychology state that children undergo a major change between the ages of five and seven. In classical learning theory, this is a time when the simplest forms of learning give way to learning that involves more complex mental processes. According to psychologist Jean Piaget, the period from five to seven years old is a transition to operational thought, when children are able to move beyond using only their senses toward using a new set of rational-thinking skills. Because several cognitive changes occur in children between ages five and seven, this period is callcd the five-seven shift. The shift is biological in nature and involves fundamental growth m the brain and stabilization of brain—wave rhythms into a basically adult pattern. The five-seven shift involves many physical changes, such as the loss of’the “baby teeth” and an increase in the rates of height acquired and weight gained.
2 By the time they are five years old, children can understand and use symbols. They have developed the ability to use words, gestures, and pictures to stand for “real life” objects, and they are skilled in deploying various symbol systems, such as language or drawing. However, a five-year-old child is able to focus attention on only one quality of an object at a time, such as the object’s size or shape. The use of symbolization continues to evolve, reaching a peak around the age of seven or eight, when children become capable of concrete operations. When this happens, they can solve problems by using rational thought to make generalizations from their own experience.
3 By the age of seven or eight, a new set of abilities allows children to reason systematically about the world of objects, quantity, time, space, and causality. According to Piaget, this is because an “extra card” is added to the child’s mental “computer” during the five—seven shift. The development of operational thought enables the child to appreciate the relations among a series of actions upon objects. For example, the child understands that a scene can be viewed from a different perspective and still contain the same elements. The child also understands that objects can be rearranged and still have the same quantity and that a substance can be changed in shape without its mass or volume being affected.
4 Piaget discovered the most widely known hallmark of the five—seven shift, an understanding of conservation, the idea that some properties stay the same despite changes in appearance. In one of Piaget’s classic experiments on the conservation of quantity, the experimenter shows children of different ages two straight rows of coins, each with six coins pressed close together, beside each other on a table. The experimenter asks each child subject whether both rows have the same number of coins or whether one row has more. Then the experimenter spreads out the coins of one row to make the line look longer. The child must now say whether one row has more coins. Children younger than five years old cannot understand conservation, so they invariably say that the spread-out row has more coins than the other row.
5 Like most age-related tasks for children, there are other ways to set up the task. In a similar experiment, water is poured into two identical glasses until the child subject agrees that each contains an equal amount. Then the experimenter pours water from one of these glasses into a tall, thin glass. At that point, the child is asked whether one glass has more water than the other. Five-year-old children will say that there is more water in the tall, thin glass. When asked why they think that, many will confidently say, “Because it’s taller.” Older children, however, are likely to reply, “It looks like there’s more water in this one because it’s taller, but they’re really the same.” Such experiments show a difference between children of five years and children of eight years. The older children can solve the task promptly, easily, under a wide variety of conditions, and without being taught.
The younger children, even if they are taught about conservation, cannot do what the five-seven shift will do for them naturally: provide them with a more developed brain.
cognitive: relating to mental processes
39. According to the passage, children between the ages of five and seven typically experience all of the following EXCEPT
(A) development of rational thinking
(B) an interest in morality and rules
(C) important changes in the brain
(D) an increase in the physical growth rate
40. What can be inferred from paragraph 1 about cognitive development during the five-seven shift?
(A) It is a time when children start learning in very simple ways.
(B) It is the most important period in the child’s formal education.
(C) It is a topic of disagreement among child psychologists.
(D) It is related to biological developments in the child’s brain.
41. Why does the author mention words, gestures, and pictures in paragraph 2?
(A) To list things that are used in experiments with children
(B) To give examples of symbols that children can understand
(C) To compare different ways of illustrating a child’s experience
(D) To illustrate the concept of conservation of quantity
42. The word peak in paragraph 2 is closest in meaning to
(A) large vocabulary
(B) difficult period
(C) high point
(D) sudden reversal
43. According to the passage, a child who is capable of concrete operations can
(A) perform tasks that may confuse an adult
(B) install an extra card on a computer
(C) make two rows of coins look the same
(D) reason systematically about quantity and space
44. The word hallmark in paragraph 4 is closest in meaning to
45. The word each in paragraph 4 refers to
46. Which sentence below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in paragraph 4? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information
(A) Before the age of five, children think the longer line has more coins because they are incapable of understanding conservation.
(B) Five-year-old children do not understand the value of money, so they do not care if one line of coins is longer than another.
(C) Because of the five-seven shift, children can understand why the longer row of coins is a better example of conservation.
(D) Even if two rows of coins are different in length, very young children will say that both rows have the same number of coins.
47. In paragraph 5, the author describes an experiment in which water is poured into various glasses in order to
(A) show how children approach difficult problems
(B) recommend an experiment that can be done at home
(C) give a variation on a classic experiment by Piaget
(D) suggest an activity for parents and children
48. What can be inferred about children who easily solve the water task described in paragraph 5?
(A) They have already experienced the five-seven shift,
(B) They were taught about the concept of conservation.
(C) They had time to practice the task before the experiment.
(D) They are more intelligent than others of the same age.
49. Look at the four squares, [A], [B], [C], and [D], which indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage. Where would the sentence best fit?
For instance, when sand is poured back and forth between containers of different sizes and shapes, the quantity of sand does not change.
Piaget discovered the most widely known hallmark of the five-seven shift, an understanding of conservation, the idea that some properties stay the same despite changes in appearance. [A] In one of Piaget’s classic experiments on the conservation of quantity, the experimenter shows children of different ages two straight rows of coins, each with six coins pressed close together, beside each other on a table. [B] The experimenter asks each child subject whether both rows have the same number of coins or whether one row has more. Then the experimenter spreads out the coins of one row to make the line look longer. [C] The child must now say whether one row has more coins. Children younger than five years old cannot understand conservation, so they invariably say that the spread—out row has more coins than the other row. [D]
50. Select the appropriate sentences from the answer choices and match them to the period before or after the five-seven shift. TWO of the answer choices will NOT be used. This question is worth 3 points.
(A) The child’s brain waves have rhythms similar to those of adults.
(B) The child’s cognitive development cannot be measured scientifically.
(C) The child learns in simple ways and can focus on only one quality at a time.
(D) The child knows that the quantity stays the same when objects are rearranged.
(E) The child cannot distinguish between right and wrong.
(F) The child can quickly solve problems involving conservation.
(G) The child is not able to understand the conservation of quantity.
|Before the Five-Seven Shift|
|After the Five-Seven Shift|