Piaget’s stages space a theory of just how a children cognition — definition their knowledge and understanding around the people — develops in between birth and also adulthood.

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Jean Piaget was very early psychologist who dedicated in child breakthrough from the 1920s onward. Piaget emerged his theories by city hall children and making notes about their progress.

The core idea that Piaget’s concept is that children construct by acting as “little scientists” who explore and also interact through their civilization to recognize people, objects, and also concepts. They do this naturally, even without the help of one adult.

This post explains Piaget’s four stages that cognitive development, vital concepts, and also how people can usage them to help children learn and develop.

Piaget’s stages

This table and the adhering to sections outline Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development:

StageAgeKey information
The sensorimotor stage0–2 years infants start to construct an expertise of the world through your senses by touching, grasping, watching, and listening.

Infants construct object permanence (see below).

The preoperational stage2–7 years Children build language and also abstract thought.

Children begin to use symbolic beat (“playing pretend”), draw pictures, and talk about things that occurred in the past.

The concrete operational stage7–11 years kids learn logical concrete (physical) rules around objects, such as height, weight, and volume.

youngsters learn conservation, the idea the an object, such together water or modeling clay, remains the same even when its figure changes.

The formal operational stage11+Children learn logical rule to recognize abstract concepts and also solve problems.

1. The sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years)

Share on PinterestA infant will use their senses to discover the environment.
From bear to 2 year of age, one infant starts to know the world around them by using their senses and bodily movements. Experts call this the sensorimotor stage.

At first, a baby uses their simple reflex movements, such together sucking and waving their arms, to discover their environment. They additionally use their senses of sight, touch, smell, taste, and also hearing.

As a little scientist, lock gather details from these experiences and also learn how to differentiate between people, objects, textures, sights, and also how different situations make castle feel.

Object permanence

The most advanced cognitive achievement a kid reaches throughout this phase is object permanence. Object permanence ad to when an infant understands that things still exists, also when they room not able come see, smell, touch, or hear it.

Object permanence is important due to the fact that it means that the child has emerged the capability to type a psychological image, or representation, of an item rather than merely reacting come what they endure in their immediate environment.

In the preoperational stage, a son builds on thing permanence and also continues to construct abstract ways of thinking. This contains developing advanced language skills and utilizing words and behaviors to stand for objects or events that they proficient in the past.

The child display screens five an essential behaviors throughout this period:

Imitation. This is whereby a child have the right to mimic someone’s habits even as soon as the person they are imitating is no much longer in front of them.Symbolic play. A child starts to usage objects as symbols, projecting the properties of one thing onto another; for example, pretending a rod is a sword.Drawing. Drawing involves both imitation and symbolic play. It starts as scribbles and develops into an ext accurate abstract representations of objects and people.Mental imagery. The son can snapshot many objects in your minds. They may ask the names of objects regularly to secure these associations in your mind.Verbal evocation that events. The child have the right to use language come describe and represent events, people, or objects from their past.

During the preoperational stage, the boy is egocentric. This way they only know the people from your perspective and struggle come see other peoples’ point out of view.

The concrete operational phase is another significant turning allude in a children cognitive development. The son builds on and masters abstract thought. They end up being less egocentric and an ext rational.

During this stage, the kid acquires the ability to develop and apply logical, concrete rules to objects (but not to abstract principles — this comes in the official operational stage).

This consists of a far better ability come classify objects right into groups and also subgroups, the ability to know logical orders, such together height and weight, and also an understanding of conservation.


Conservation is the expertise that an object can adjust in size, volume, or appearance, however remain the exact same object.

For example, the illustration of water changes when who pours the from a short, wide glass right into a tall, small bottle, however the water chin does no change. The child currently understands this.

In the official operational stage, i beg your pardon is the last stage the cognitive development, a boy learns more sophisticated rules of logic. They deserve to use logical functions to know abstract concepts and also solve problems.

The boy is currently able to analyze their environment and make deductions. Lock move beyond the borders of knowledge objects and facts, toward problem-solving. This involves developing theories about what is feasible based on their existing knowledge.

The child have the right to now usage their existing understanding to create new theories about the world and also make predictions around what will happen in the future.

The complying with sections will define several important elements of cognitive development that Piaget proposes as a component of his theory.


Piaget was the first to encompass the idea that a schema into a theory of cognitive development. A schema is a category of knowledge, or a mental template, the a kid puts with each other to recognize the world. A schema is a product of the child’s experiences and also can represent objects, events, or concepts.

For example, a son can construct the schema of a dog. In ~ first, words “dog” only refers to the very first dog they meet, however over time, the word comes to represent all dogs. When a child is placing this schema together, lock may speak to every furry, four-legged animal a dog prior to they understand the category.

In enhancement to creating brand-new schemas, youngsters can adapt their currently schemas based on new experiences.

As a kid ages, they type more schemas and adapt present schemas to allow them a higher understanding that the world. In this sense, schemas space a means of structuring acquired knowledge.

Two crucial concepts concerned schemas are assimilation and accommodation:

Assimilation is wherein a child provides a pre-existing schema to recognize a new object or situation.Accommodation is where a son adapts a pre-existing schema come fit a brand-new experience or object. This process is an ext mentally daunting than assimilation.


Equilibration urges a son to continue through the step of cognitive development.

When a kid experiences assimilation, their human being view is inaccurate, and they space in a state that disequilibrium. This motivates the son to accommodate new information, to with a state of equilibrium.

Piaget do many far-ranging contributions come how civilization think around child development with his theory. However, that is not without criticisms, such as:

There is inconsistent proof for these 4 stages throughout different children.Evidence says that youngsters can perform details cognitive jobs at a younger period than Piaget suggests is possible.Piaget’s theory does no account because that other impacts on cognitive development, such together social and social influences.Piaget does not specify i beg your pardon psychological processes drive these developmental changes.

Piaget’s concept centers top top the idea that children, as small scientists, need to explore, communicate with, and also experiment in bespeak to obtain the details they require to understand their world.

Caregivers and also educators have the right to put Piaget’s theory right into practice by providing plenty of opportunities for kids to discover their environment. This contains letting them learn by trial and error and also by experimenting with their environment.

In the early stages, civilization can aid a boy learn better by giving them new and interesting toys to play with and also answering the concerns they ask around the world. Providing complicated new objects and situations can produce disequilibrium, which encourages the child to learn to reach equilibrium.

In later on stages, native puzzles, problem-solving tasks, and logic puzzles will aid their cognitive development.

Allowing a son to connect with other kids may also aid enhance your learning, specifically those the a similar or slightly higher developmental phase to their own.

Piaget’s concept of cognitive development had a far-reaching impact top top how human being understand childhood development today. Piaget suggests that children go with four distinct stages of cognitive advance from bear to adulthood.

Each phase includes specific milestones whereby the boy demonstrates a an ext sophisticated understanding of the world. Piaget trust that advancement occurs with a continuous drive to expand and adapt schemas, or understandings about the world. However, some people have criticize Piaget’s theory.

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People can additionally explore various other theories the cognitive development, such as Vygotsky and Montessori theories.