Cognitive Theory

Jean Piaget is a well-known cognitive theorist who argues that there are four foundational stages children develop through in order to develop intelligence.  The four stages are Sensori -motor, Preoperational, Concrete operational and formal operational.  As early as birth to 24 months of age development occurs by relating to the world taking in information around us.  In the sensorimotor stage babies will orally taste and chew to understand and make judgments based on texture, smell and emotional relationship.  Another concept that develops at this time is object permanence, where children figure out that objects still exist even if it isn’t present.  Memory intelligence starts once object permanence is mastered.  As babies get older they develop a higher cognitive functioning where intelligence takes on symbolism in the preoperational stage. The child is ego centric and focuses on learning through drawing and pictures.  This occurs between 2-7 years of age and this is often when you see the “terrible twos”.  Piaget would describe this phenomenon as normal developing as children’s logic is very short sighted and often they cannot understand the whole picture.  The schemas the child learns are what he/she can relate to objects they can see.  For instance an example who be to ask a child if you had 8 apples and 3 oranges  which has more, the child can reply that 8 apples are more than 2 oranges.  But if you gave a broad category and say to him/her “Is 8 apples more than all fruits?” they would say agree.  The third stage is Concrete operational which happens from 7 years of age to 11.  This stage focuses on logic intelligence and reasoning.  The final stage is formal operational, which occurs from 12 years of age to adulthood.  In the formal operational stage children build deductive logic skills and are strategically thinking ahead and how to be systematic. Each stage moves in a progression and sometime children go through stages at different paces. 


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