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Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget was born on August9, 1896, in the French speaking part of Switzerland. At an early age he developed an interest in biology, and by the time he had graduated from high school he had already published a number of papers. After marrying in 1923, he had three children, whom he studied from infancy. Piaget is best known for organizing cognitive development into a series of stages- the levels of development corresponding too infancy, childhood, and adolescence. These four stages are labeled the Sensorimotor stage, which occurs from birth to age two, (children experience through their senses), the Preoporational stage, which occurs from ages two to six, (motor skills are acquired), the Concrete Operational stage, which occurs from ages six to eleven, (children think logically about concrete events), and the Formal
Operational stage, which occurs after age eleven, (abstract reasoning is developed here).
( (Bee and Boyd 149). The focus of this paper will be on the
Preoporational stage and how the child’s cognitive abilities develop according to Piaget.
The Preoperational stage is Piaget’s term for the second major stage of cognitive development. It is in this stage that Piaget states that children acuire symbolic schemes, such as language and fantasy, that they use in thinking and communicating. Piaget saw evidence of symbol use in many aspects of children aged two to six. As a Pre-School teacher myself, I have witnessed many of the same behaviors that Piaget himself observed while developing his theory of cognitive development. Children this age begin to pretend in their play. The dramatic play area in my classroom is always one of the most busy areas of the room. The children love to role-play and create imaginary games. According to Piaget, such symbol use is also evident in the emergence of language and in the preschoolers primitive ability to understand scale models or simple maps. Dramatic play gives the children the chance to role-play. If they work through situations in their classroom, they’ll be better prepared for real-life scenarios. Through role-playing, children not only express emotions, but also exercise creativity and develop skills like cooperation and problem solving.
During the Pre...

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...get viewed children as little philosophers and scientists building their own individual theories of knowledge. By focusing on what children con do as well as what they cannot do, he was able to understand and explain their cognitive growth and development. His theory is a valuable “road map” for understanding how children think. However, many psychologists are convinced that Piaget gave too little credit to the effects of learning. For example; Children of pottery-making parents can correctly answer questions about the conservation of clay at an earlier age than Piaget would have predicted. According to learning theorists, children continuously gain specific knowledge; they do not undergo stage-like leaps in general mental ability. (Coon 109). Thus, the truth may lie somewhere between Piaget’s stage theory and modern learning theory.

Works Cited

1. Coon, Dennis. Essentials of Psychology. 9th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson
Learning, 2003

2. Bee, Helen and Boyd, Dennis. The Developing Child. 10th Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson
Education, Inc., 2004



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