Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget was a swiss development physiologist who had a great interest in children and how they changed as they matured. He observed that children naturally create their own ideas as they grow even without any influence from the parents. He came up with the theory of cognitive development, which suggests that children go throw four different phases of mental development from birth to maturity.
Just like scientists, Jean believed that children go through a process of exploring and experimenting new things as they learn how to interact with people and objects around them. Below are Piaget’s Four stages that summarize the theory of cognitive development in children.
- The Sensorimotor Stage
The sensorimotor stage begins at birth and lasts up to 2years. At this stage, Infants and toddlers have minimal knowledge and learning mostly occurs through basic reflexes and physical experience.
In a span of two years, children go through a great deal of growth as they learn and discover new things in the world. It is during this stage that the child becomes more mobile and learns basic physical actions like putting objects in the mouth, crawling, and walking. It is also in this stage that they learn about language from people they interact with.
- Preoperational Stage
The preoperational stage is experienced by children between 2-7 years. At this stage, the kids have better language skills and their memory and imagination continue to develop. Children at this stage can also understand letters, numbers and continuously learn to attach symbols to language and objects. They also tend to think more about themselves and assume that other people share their points of view. Intelligence in this stage is egocentric and intuitive.
- The concrete operations stage
This stage is experienced by children between the age of 7 to 11 years. At this stage, the child becomes aware of external events and becomes less egocentric and begins to look and interpret situations more rationally. The child can identify and classify objects into various groups and subgroups and also acquires the ability to understand and interpret intricate details and information.
- Formal Operational Stage
This is the last stage in Piaget’s cognitive development process. The child aged 11 years and above can interpret more sophisticated logic symbols and rules such as algebra and science. Their intelligence goes beyond understanding simple facts and are able to think about multiple variables systematically and solve more complex problems. Adolescents in this stage can use prior and existing knowledge to make future decisions.
Piaget viewed intellectual development as a lifelong process. However, once a person reaches the Formal operational stage, more focus is building on the already acquired knowledge rather than changing how they view or understand it.