The terms thinking and cognition are sometimes used interchangeably, yet they have slightly different meanings. Cognition is the broader term signifying general mental operations, such as recognizing patterns, processing language, and remembering. Thinking, on the other hand, is just one aspect of cognition and is defined as the process of using one’s mind to reason or to produce thoughts. Thinking is used in various ways—to solve problems, make decisions, organize and synthesize information, develop plans, form judgments, and create new ideas.

This entry provides a brief overview of what research and theory have to offer to current understandings about young children’s thinking. This entry also offers insight into how research on the thinking of young children provides strong support for what has been defined as ...

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