Jean Piaget revolutionized the notion of children’s development. Before his theory, it was commonly assumed that the difference between an adult and a child is just a lack of knowledge. However, the disparity goes much deeper than that, as children develop their intelligence and logical thinking over time in stages until adulthood rather than being born with them. Piaget identified these stages of cognitive development, describing them and providing information on the most common average duration.
Stages of Cognitive Development
The first stage is sensorimotor, which lasts approximately from birth to two years of age. The main achievement of this stage is acquiring the concept of object permanence. In other words, the children start to remember the surrounding objects and learn that the thing continues to exist even if it is not in their line of sight. To achieve that and recall the objects, the children would form their representation in their minds, even labeling them.
The child starts being capable of symbolical thought through language and mental images during the next stage, called preoperational, which lasts until around seven. The children begin to think more abstractly and detach their thinking from their physical surroundings. Now they can attach symbolic meanings to their representations of the objects in their minds, which do not describe the objects’ outright palpable qualities and characteristics. Thus, the children start to think about feelings and the concept of life.
The third stage, concrete operational, signifies the beginning of the development of logical thought, lasting from seven to eleven years old. The children become capable of internal reasoning about the present physical objects. Therefore, it is advised to provide them with various things and pictures to facilitate the progression of this process.
The final stage, formal operational, concludes the development of logical thinking and goes into scientific reasoning. The children form a logical argument, formulate abstract theories and hypotheses, and find solutions to hypothetical problems. This stage lasts from twelve years of age into adulthood, and some people may not fully develop their scientific thinking.
Overall, these stages combine biological maturation and interaction outcomes with the environment. The children go through these stages in the strict order and cannot miss the step. However, the rate differs depending on the child and the circumstances of upbringing, with the possibility of not attaining the latter stages.