The background of the study is the historic and cultural conception of development, which considers symbolic activities significant for preschool-age children. Our objective was to identify indicators of reflection as an essential feature of preschool development during the acquisition of symbolic actions at three levels: materialized, perceptive, and verbal. The design of the study was descriptive with qualitative and quantitative analysis applied. Included in this assessment of the development of symbolic function were 180 children of preschool age (from 5 to 6 years old) who were in the third year of formal preschool education in Bogotá, Colombia. Qualitative analysis of the results pointed out specific indicators of symbolic development at each level. On the materialized level such indicators were the sequencing of actions with substituted objects, the generalization of the symbolic features of objects, and a verbal, coherent explanation of the mode of substitution. On the perceptive level the indicators were the generalization of features in graphic representations, the possibility of using an image as a strategy for voluntary memorization, and a verbal explanation of the use of an image as a substitution. On the verbal level reflective explanation of verbal substitution was established as the positive indicator. The results permit us to posit the usefulness of clear qualitative indicators for assessment of a child’s level of psychological development and readiness for school learning at the end of preschool.
Keywords: symbolic development, preschool age, reflection, psychological development, actions with objects, symbolic actions