The 4 stages of Piaget’s development (cognitive development theory)

What are the 4 stages of development of Piaget?

The Piaget development stages they are four:

  • Motor sensory stage (0 to 2 years)
  • Pre operational stage (from two to seven years old)
  • Concrete operations stage (from seven to eleven years old)
  • Formal Operations Stage (from eleven years old and up)

These phases, also known as Piaget stages or stages, were the product of the research of the Swiss psychologist and researcher Jean Piaget, who proposed a theory on cognitive development in humans that prevails to this day.

For Piaget, the development of intelligence begins in childhood and has four stages with defined ages and characteristics.

Motor sensory stage (from birth to two years)

It is the phase in which the child begins to interact with the outside world, interested in the stimuli it provides.

Among other highlights of this stage of development, the following stand out:

  • Innate ability to distinguish speech of other kinds of sounds
  • Communication through crying during the first year of life.
  • First word pronunciation and short sentences from 12 months.
  • Interest in recreational activities that generate sensory reactions (tickle, bright colors, songs or sounds, etc.)
  • Repeating activities, as a way to better understand what is happening in the outside world (repeatedly throwing a toy, throwing a blanket, etc.).

Pre-operational stage (from two to seven years old)

This stage of cognitive development, characterized by the child’s entry into the formal education system, implies the development of logic and the use of categories to classify objects and reality.

Some events of this phase are:

  • First social interactions out of family context.
  • Vocabulary Extension (due to social interaction and school learning).
  • Empathy Development and the ability to interpret roles, separating them from reality.
  • Self-centered character thinking (focused on your needs).
  • The child is very curious to understand the world, so usually ask the “why” of things.

Concrete operations (from seven to eleven years old)

In this phase of development, children begin to learn and implement simple mathematical operations that stimulate their logical thinking (2 + 2 = 4). Other advances, such as:

  • Ability to be empathic (can understand how other people feel).
  • Thought development logical at an initial stage.
  • Abstract thinking is not developed, which prevents them from understanding complex issues.

Formal operations (from eleven years onwards)

The last stage of cognitive development goes from pre adolescence to adulthood. In this phase it is possible to notice advances in several aspects:

  • Development of a greater capacity to generate abstract conclusions from logical thinking.
  • Understanding the existence of different ways of thinking to yours, especially during the early teenage years.
  • From this stage of development children begin to hypothesize for themselves., even about aspects of reality that are still unknown.

Piaget cognitive development theory

In the 19th century, the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget proposed a theory that generated a great impact on the behavioral sciences. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development states that human intelligence has phases with defined characteristics.. And that the development of those cognitive abilities begins from the moment of birth.

For Piaget, each stage of development helps to structure the next one, which makes the child acquire more and more abilities and skills, expanding his cognitive capacity in different aspects: sensory experience, language, logical thinking, social interaction, etc.

However, although Piaget’s theory of cognitive development describes certain types of progress according to age, it is not a rigid approach, since each child has its own process. Therefore, a child does not reach a milestone at a specific age does not mean that he will not achieve it later.

The factors that influence cognitive development are multiple, ranging from the infant’s thinking scheme, its interaction with the environment and external stimuli, etc. Therefore, there are multiple reasons why a child could lag behind the evolution of their cognitive abilities.