Early Childhood is a period of rapid language development, which increases the ability of expression of the child; and self- expression is a potent means of mental development. The child also acquires a variety of sensory and perceptual experiences and these experiences contribute a lot towards his mental development.
According to Jean Piaget, early childhood is the pre-operational stage or the stage of fire concepts. In other words, this is the period preparatory to that of concrete operations.
As the stage of Early Childhood sets in, the child begins to make internal symbolic representations and to invent solutions rather than depend on trial and error. This is the beginning of pre-operational stage. Symbolic play with a toy-gun as a real gun or a tricycle as a horse illustrates this stage.
This stage is marked by ego- centricism. There is natural shift from the sensorimotor stage to logical and social egocentricity. His own perspective of the world is all that matters for him. He fails to understand another’s point of view. He does not understand that someone else has a different point of view for things and objects in space. His attitude is, “I am I and you are you, and how can you be and be you?” “The child’s own personal perspective,” says Watson, “is absolute, not relative.”
Animism is another characteristic of this stage. Children between four and six years of age, regard everything to be alive unless it is broken or damaged. Children upto seven years of age regard everything that moves to be alive. For children of eight to ten years, everything that moves by itself is alive. Children at the late childhood stage, reserve life for animals and plants or animals alone.