Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is a broad theory about the characteristics and advancement of human intelligence. It was founded by the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980). The theory deals with the nature of awareness and how humans constantly come to procure, construct, and handle it. Piaget’s theory is mainly known as a developmental stage theory.
In the year 1919, while working at the Alfred Binet Laboratory School in Paris, Piaget was enthralled by the fact that children of varied ages made distinct kinds of errors while solving problems. His expertise and observations at the Alfred Binet Laboratory were the commencements of his theory of cognitive development.
Piaget noted that reality is a dynamic system of constant change. Reality is defined as the two conditions that define dynamic systems. Particularly, he argued that reality includes transformations and states. Transformations refer to all the methods of changes that a thing or person can experience. States refer to the circumstances or the appearances in which things or persons can be observed between transformations.
Basically, there are four stages involved in cognitive development. They are the Sensorimotor stage, Preoperational stage, Concrete Operational stage, and Formal Operational stage.
The first of these, the Sensorimotor stage extends from the birth of the child till his acquisition of language. In this stage, infants mostly learn from the physical actions they perform within it, like grasping, sucking, and stepping.
The second stage starts at the age of 2 years. It starts when the child begins to speaks and lasts till the age of seven. In this stage, children don’t understand concrete logic and cannot mentally handle information.
The next comes the Concrete Operational stage. It starts from the age of 7 and extends till 14. During this stage, the children’s thought process becomes more mature and adult-like. However, understanding and knowing the full use of common sense has not yet been developed in them.
The final stage is called the Formal Operational stage. In this phase of time, the child knows the concepts of hypothetical and deductive reasoning. This concept becomes really important during this stage. It involves “what-if” situations that are not always rooted in reality.