Cognition And The Stages Of Cognitive Development

As babies, our minds begin as empty slates ready to absorb information. As we grow, we go through cognitive development that enhances our cognition and brain parts. Developmental psychologist Jean Piaget created four stages of cognitive development which map out the progression of development a child experiences.

First, what is cognition? Cognition refers to all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating. Essentially, anything that involves your brain goes through cognition. Everything we see, hear, smell, touch, or think goes through cognition.

Also, who is Jean Piaget? Piaget was a developmental psychologist that spent his life researching the development of a child’s mind. He found that children’s minds went through a series of stages, developing from a newborn’s simple reflexes to an adult’s abstract reasoning. The four stages he identified are listed below.

Four Stages of Cognitive Development

Sensorimotor: This is the first stage of development and typically involves children aged birth to 2 years. In this stage children are experiencing the world through their senses and actions, by looking, hearing, and touching. Children also develop object permanence, the idea that even though you cannot see an object it still exists, and stranger anxiety, the fear of strangers.

Preoperational: This is the second stage of development and typically involves children aged 2 to 7 years. In this stage children begin representing things with words and images. Children in this stage also use intuitive rather than logical reasoning. Piaget believe that children in this age are egocentric, meaning the children have difficulty taking another’s point of view.

Concrete Operational: This is the third stage of development and typically involves children aged 7 to 11 years. In this stage children begin to think logically about concrete events. They are able to grasp concrete analogies and perform arithmetical operations. Conservation, the principle that properties remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects, is a key development in this stage.

Formal Operational: This is the final stage of development and typically involves children aged 12 and up. In this stage children begin to think using abstract reasoning. Children are able to solve hypothetical propositions and deduce consequences.

Although parts of Piaget’s theory are questioned, such as the age some of the development occurs, a majority of his theory of cognition and its development is still as true today as it was when he created it. By understanding the four stages of cognitive development you can ensure that children are developing at a normal rate.
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