Back to: Childhood and Growing Up – Unit 5
Cognitive development refers to the emergence of thinking and understanding ability. Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist who observed the intellectual development of children during childhood. He studied the intellectual development of his three children and is known as the father of cognitive development. He stated,
“Cognitive development is a progressive reorganization of mental processes as a result of biological maturation and environmental experience.”
Piaget believed that there were four main stages of cognitive development namely, the sensorimotor stage, the preoperational stage, the concrete operational stage, and the formal operational stage.
Sensorimotor Stage of Cognitive Development According to Piaget
The sensorimotor stage is characterized by the following points:
- The sensorimotor stage begins at birth and lasts till two years of age.
- During this stage, the child starts interacting with the environment and tries to gain an understanding of it.
- The child starts developing motor senses such as sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
- They start understanding the world through these senses.
- They start differentiating between animate and inanimate objects. If something is out of sight, it is out of mind.
- At the end of this stage, children develop symbolic thought. This means that children start to represent objects through mental symbols.
- Children also achieve object permanence which refers to the ability of recognizing the existence of an object even when it is out of sight or not perceived.
Sensorimotor Stage of Cognitive Development: Experiment
One instance of cognitive development during the sensorimotor stage is that if children are playing with a ball, they become attracted to it but if the ball is out of their sight, they will forget its existence. After the child obtains object permanence, they start recognizing the object’s existence even when it is out of sight.