Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood

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The Early Childhood stage of development lasts from 3 to 5 years. During this period, children are already ready to master complex skills, such as riding a two-wheeled bicycle. This period is the main stage in the development of speech. This is a reason why is why it is especially important at this time to provide the child with a large number of correct speech examples for imitation. It is necessary to speak with children as much as possible, read aloud, encourage their speech activity, as well as carefully monitor the purity and correctness of speech (McLeod, 2018). The Middle Childhood stage of development lasts from 6 to 11 years. The muscles and skeleton of the child at this age become much stronger. During the period of primary school age, attention is actively developed. Children learn to control their behavior and force themselves to concentrate on the tasks set before them.

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Cognitive development is a change in thought processes at various stages of a child’s development. Thinking processes, in this case, mean the ability to perceive and form concepts, the search for solutions to problems, memory functions, logical thinking, and imagination. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget developed the theory of cognitive development, which marked a new stage in the study of the psychological health of children and adolescents (McLeod, 2018). Piaget argued that a person can independently model their cognitive abilities through actions performed in the environment.

The stage of cognitive development, which occurs at the age of 3 to 5 years, is the Early Childhood stage, Piaget calls preoperational since the child does not yet understand certain rules or operations. An operation is a procedure for mentally separating, combining, or otherwise logically transforming information. For example, if water is poured from a tall and narrow glass into a low and wide glass, adults know that the amount of water has not changed. In a child at the preoperational stage of cognitive development, the concept of reversibility and other mental operations is rather weak or absent. The main feature of this period is the inability of the child to keep his attention on more than one aspect of the situation at the same time (Rimfeld et al., 2019). Children in the preoperational stage of development are not aware of other points of view and believe that everyone else perceives the world around them in the same way as they do. Egocentrism explains the rigidity of thinking at the preoperational stage since young children are unable to rethink their schemas to take into account changes in their environment. Hence their inability to perform reverse operations or take into account the conservation of quantity.

In contrast, in Middle Childhood, quantitative equality becomes more significant than a visual impression. In the concrete operational stage, children come to more logical forms of thinking. Between 6 and 11 years old, they learn different concepts of conservation and begin to perform logical manipulations. They can arrange objects according to one characteristic, for example, by height or weight, and also form a mental picture of the sequence of actions. Five-year-old children may find their way to a friend’s house, but they will not be able to explain how to get there (Rimfeld et al., 2019). They find the way because they know where to turn, but they have no general picture of the route. In contrast, 8-year-olds can draw a path map quite easily. At about the same time, Piaget’s third stage of understanding morality begins. The child begins to realize that some of the rules are social conventions, and collective agreements, and they can be arbitrarily adopted or changed if everyone agrees on them.


McLeod, S. (2018). Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Simply Psychology, 1-9.

Rimfeld, K., Malanchini, M., Spargo, T., Spickernell, G., Selzam, S., McMillan, A.,… & Plomin, R. (2019). Twins early development study: A genetically sensitive investigation into behavioral and cognitive development from infancy to emerging adulthood. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 22(6), 508-513.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 25). Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 25). Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood.

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"Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood." PsychologyWriting, 25 July 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood'. 25 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood." July 25, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood." July 25, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Cognitive Development in Early and Middle Childhood." July 25, 2022.