Cognitive Development and Language Skills Development

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Cognitive Development and Language Skills Development

“Cognitive development underpins all the other aspects of development

as children start to explore and make sense of the world around them.

It is closely linked to the development of language and communication

skills as children interact with the people around them.”

There are many theories written on the subjects of cognitive

development and language and communication. These theories vary in

several ways, but they all seem to make the link between the too

subjects. Childcare settings put these theories into practise in a lot

of ways, sometimes without even realising it, just through


Cognitive development


Piaget’s theories of cognitive development are that children learn

through exploration of their environment. An adult’s role in this is

to provide children with appropriate experiences.

He said that cognitive development happens in four stages.

1. Sensory – motor

· Babies and young children learn through their senses, activity and

interaction with their environment.

· They understand the world in terms of actions.

2. Pre – operations

· Young children learn through their experiences with real objects in

their immediate environment.

· They use symbols e.g. words and images to make sense of their world.

3. Concrete operations

· Children continue to learn through their experiences with real


· They access information (using language) to make sense of their

immediate and wider environment.

4. Formal operations

· Children and adults learn to make use of abstract thinking.

Piaget also believed that children would only learn when they are

ready. Children's use of language represents their stage in cognitive

development, but he didn’t see language as a ‘central’ to children's

development, as cognitive development begins at birth and is required

for language development.

He also states that children are egocentric – they can’t understand

another person’s point of view.

Criticisms of Piaget’s work


Margaret Donaldson suggests that Piaget underestimated young
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