FROM MODE TO SYMBOL
The world of the 5-year-old shares comparatively few features with that of the animal or the infant. The toddler can speak his native tongue clearly and expertly, make most of his wishes and ideas known without difficulty, and follow the conversation of others or a television program while busily engaged in one or more unrelated activities. He is a master of motoric skills, walking, skipping, running about, playing ball, writing his name, climbing trees, perhaps swimming or riding a bike. He knows numerous melodies and sings them as he walks about the house, marching or pirouetting when he hears a strong pulse, inventing variations as he hums a tune during his morning bath. He may be able to read a few words and can make painstaking discriminations among pictures, sometimes astounding his parents by his memory for details or his sensitivity for stylistic features. He is also able to draw objects and construct interesting patterns, to name colors, invent simple rhymes, tell a story, or build a fortress of sand. In nearly all activities he is aided tremendously by the capacity to devise, use, and comprehend various kinds of symbols. This ability distinguishes him from younger children and from all other animals. In this chapter we will complete our discussion of what is distinctive about the early years of infancy and then suggest the mechanism by which the use of symbols becomes possible. Only then will we be able to focus explicitly on the child's use of symbols and relate this capacity to his eventual participation in the artistic process.