Cognitive development including piaget's theory(mainly in pre-school years)
WHAT IS COGNITIVE
• Development of children’s thinking,
reasoning and problem-solving skills.
• Children develop their thinking from the
simple to the complex and from the
concrete to the abstract.
• How a person perceives, thinks, and gains
understanding of his or her world through
the interaction of genetic and learned
Cognition is the mental activity and behavior
that allows us to understand the world.
The Benefits Of Understanding
• Whether you believe or agree with Piaget’s complex theories of
cognitive development, they at least allow parents to understand
what is normal and appropriate for general age groups.
• Toys, games, and activities are easier to choose if you understand
the stages of a child’s cognitive development. If you know that most
children do some things at a certain age, you will know that you don’t
need to change that behavior. You will understand that it is not your
fault your child is doing something annoying.
• By understanding normal development, you can tell when a child’s
development may be lagging behind their peers. In most cases, it’s
fine, but there are some red flags in children’s development that may
be worth raising with a doctor or specialist.
Symbolic Function Sub-stage,
which spans ages 2-4 years
• It is the ability to use symbols such as words,
images, and gestures to represent objects and
• Between the ages of 2 and 4, a child can
perform Symbolic Functions or think about
objects even though they are not real or
present. At this stage, they engage in rich
pretend play and use more language.
• It is a person's ability to understand how certain
physical characteristics change while others remain the
same in a logical, cause and effect sequence. According
to Piaget, Preoperational Children do not readily
understand how things can change from one form to
another. To demonstrate this concept, Piaget first
showed young children two 1-inch round balls of clay.
Then, he presented the children with one 1-inch round
ball of clay and one 1-inch ball of clay squished flat. A
young person in the Preoperational stage would not
understand that the flat ball had been round before
and was squished to make its new shape.
• Piaget also believed that Preoperational children have
a style of thinking characterized by Egocentrism, or the
inability to see the world someone else's point of view.
• According to Piaget, children with Egocentrism explain
situations from their own perspective and
understanding. Preoperational children also have a
hard time understanding why banging on pots and
pans or playing with a musical toy could increase their
mother's headache when they're having so much fun.
• The child thinks only about himself – on his own needs
and desires and can’t accommodate to other people.
Animism or Animistic Thinking
• Characteristics of the symbolic function sub stage in preoperational
stage. Children believe that inanimate objects are given human
• They belief that everything that exists has some kind of
• For example, children often believe that a car won't start because it is
tired or sick.
• Children may talk about cars like animals, as if they're growling or
that they're hungry.
• Similarly, young children may blame chairs or toys for causing them
to fall or trip.
• Children under the age of 4 don't have the ability to organize things
into hierarchical categories.
• Young children are unable to group items in larger sub-groups and
smaller sub-groups based on similarities and differences.
Transductive thinking in preoperational stage:
Transductive thinking is prominent in children’s thoughts. They create
a connection between two situations that occurs at the same time,
even though there’s nothing in common to both of them.
Transductive reasoning leads to illogical conclusions, since it involves
reasoning from one particular instance to another particular
instance without reference to the general . Transduction can
sometimes yield a correct conclusion, but the overgeneralization
resulting from this type of reasoning often leads to stubborn, rigid
• As the child matures, he becomes capable of logical thought
based on inductive and deductive reasoning.
“Inductive reasoning” proceeds from specific to general
“Deductive reasoning” moves from general to specific.
• Preschoolers aged 3-4 years have not yet
attained “identify constancy”, or the
understanding that features of individuals, like
their sex, age, or species, are permanent and
unaffected by appearance.
• At this stage, children lack a mature concept
of numbers as separate values. Four or five
year olds can count relatively easily from 0 to
10, but it is hard for them to answer, six is
more or less than three.
Intuitive Thought sub-stage, which
spans ages 4-7 years
• Children in this sub-stage of development learn by asking questions
such as, "Why?" and "How come?" Piaget labeled this "intuitive
thought" because he believed that children at this stage tend to be
so certain of their knowledge and understanding that they are
unaware of how they gained this knowledge in the first place (i.e.,
knowing by intuition).
• In this process the child builds cognitive thinking based on
impression at the current moment.
• The child thinks through Subjective impression, which means that
the child cannot carry out conservational tasks.
• Preoperational stage shows that children at this sub-stage can’t act
with reversible thinking and they Cannot concentrate on more than
one dimension of the problem – concentrations.
• The intuitive thought Cause concentrate only about what appears
to be prominent at the moment.
Illustrative Example: intuitive thought
in preoperational stage:
I showed to Doron and Dan Two apples at equal size. I sliced the
two apples into ten equal pieces. I put the first 10 pieces on a
saucer and the other 10 on a tray .
When I asked the children What Apple they prefer? The one
the saucer or the one on a tray?
Doron and Dan chose the Apple I sliced on a tray.
Doron and Dan are thinking that the amount of apple pieces
on the tray is larger then
the amount of pieces on the plate.
Doron and Dan cannot concentrate on the number of apple
pieces and the same time, pay attention to the surface area of
the plate or the tray – concentration.
They cannot remember the apple in his original state, to
realize that the apple stays the same size, even though it was
cut to pieces, changing it’s form - reversible thinking.
• Piaget also suggested that Intuitive Thinking children
show a style of thinking he called "Centration". These
children typically hone in on one characteristic of
someone or something, and base their decisions or
judgment on that one characteristic (rather than
considering multiple characteristics).
• For example, a 4 yr. old who was asked to put blocks
into groups might focus his or her attention on the
color of the blocks instead of the shape or the material
from which they are constructed. De-centering,
combined with the concept of conservation (described
above) are prerequisites to more sophisticated logical
• Children in the Intuitive Thought sub-stage also
show many advances in cognitive skills. For
example, young children shift from depending on
magical beliefs to using rational beliefs to explain
situations or events that they haven't
encountered before. Very young children may
explain that a new house "grew out of the
ground," while older children understand that
human beings put boards, bricks, and other
materials together to build it.
Ability to comprehend dual
• Another large gain during this sub-stage is the
ability to comprehend dual relationships.
Children now understand that something can
be both an object itself as well as a symbol for
something else. For example, a stuffed toy dog
is a fun, furry toy as well as a representation
of living and toy dogs in general.
• It is the belief that all movements
accomplishes some purpose.
• Since preschoolers believe themselves to be
the center of the universe, they feel they can
alter reality by their thoughts or wishes. Such
a belief is called “ MAGICAL THINKING”.
• A final characteristic of preschoolers’ cognitive
development is the static quality, or
“concreteness” of their language. Young
children tend to describe tangible and
observable aspects of the environment,
disregarding subtleties and abstractions.
• Egocentrism and centration both affect the
preschool child’s ability to reason and to solve
everyday problems. When attempting to
explain causes and effect, preschoolers
assume that the observable characteristics of
an object have something to do with the
• According to Piaget’s concept formation is one of
the most important cognitive achievements of
childhood. Concepts are cognitive categories that
help children-and adults- organize information
and acquire new knowledge.
• Children acquire more basic concepts such as
dog, house, and toy relatively early.
• Other more abstract concepts , such as number,
distance, and space, require more time.
• The most important acquisition of the preoperational period is an
elementary understanding of the notion of conservation.
• Typically, the child learns to conserve number at the end of the period of
pre conceptual thought but cannot yet conserve other characteristics such
as mass and volume.
• Conservation is a person's ability to understand that certain physical
characteristics of objects remain the same, even if their appearance has
changed. To demonstrate the concept of Conservation, Piaget showed
young children two identical cups filled with identical volumes of water
(reaching to the same measuring line). Preoperational youth agreed the
cups had the same amount of liquid in them. Piaget proceeded to pour the
liquid from one of the original cups into a wide, short cup. Then, he poured
the liquid from the second original cup into a tall, narrow cup. When he
asked Preoperational kids which cup had more liquid, they chose the taller
cup. To these children, the taller cup looked like it had more volume even
though the same amount of fluid filled both cups.
• The concept of conservation can apply to number as well. For example,
according to Piaget, a Preoperational child will not understand that
rearranging six keys to make a different formation (e.g., spreading them out
or moving them closer together) does not change the number of items
• Another limitation of preoperational thought
• Children at this stage cannot play back actions
in their imaginations in order to reconstruct
• Sorting objects into categories or classes on the basis
of color, shape or size.
• Preschoolers have the inability in sorting objects.
• Children under 7 cannot consistently order objects
according to some dimension or the other.
• Although they can identify the end points of the
• They are rarely able to sort multicolored shapes
• Can focus only on single attribute while classifying.
• Transitivity is the term used by Piaget &
Inhelder for Seriation.
• The arranging of the things in a logical
progression i.e., tallest to shortest or lightest
• Cannot see a relation between more than two
elements at one time or between the
individual parts & the whole.
• Preschoolers have a difficulty in understanding
that one item can belong to several subsets or
• Training can aid the acquisition of class
• For example, a preschooler given a subset of 3
chairs & a table and asked, “Are there more
Chairs or more Furniture?” will usually
respond “More Chairs.”
Be confused about present, past and future.
(3 to 4 years)
When reading a story, ask your child what
happened first, next and last. Use a calendar to
count down days to anticipated events and to
help him/her understand the passage of time.
Sort and classify objects by color, shape, sizes,
(3 to 4 years)
Ask your child to help you sort the laundry and
separate light and dark clothes into different
piles. Play “I Spy” and encourage him/her to
identify things by color, or shape. Go on a
“shape/color hunt” and try to point out things
that are blue, green, round, square, etc.
Learn through causality (cause and effect)
and problem solving.
Encourage your child to find the solution to a
problem by providing assistance rather than
giving him/her the solution. Ask questions, such
as, “What do you think will happen if we take the
snow inside the house?” At bath time, ask, “What
do you think will happen if we put a heavy object
in the water? Will it sink or float?”
Organize objects from small to big, light to
(4–5 year olds)
Play games in which your child can sort objects
from small to big (buttons, plastic containers, etc.)
or light to heavy (feathers, cardboard, wood
Advances in pouring & measuring cooking
Learns mechanical skills Sturdy record player, magnets, jewelry kits like
Refines listening Songs, nursery rhymes
Enjoys simple stories Story books
Love language Important to read aloud to children until they
can read comfortably (age 7-8)
classifies Good blocks-variety of good shapes & sizes
Manipulates better Large crayons/markers for drawing
Plays imaginatively, makes houses Dolls(for boys, too), old clothes/hats, puppets,
small gym set for multi-use
2 TO 3 YEARS
Imitates parent of same gender (ages 3-6) Toys to play house, store, doctor
Begins small muscle coordination (girls have
better fine motor skills and wrist rotation for
turning knobs, dressing and brushing teeth at
Small tools, cooking equipment
Drawing equipment (big pad of paper, liquid
paints & wide brushes-small watercolor sets
Begins to cut Safety scissors, paste & colored paper
Begins to play Houses, forts from boxes, sheets
Continues big muscle development Tricycle, wheelbarrow, small rake, jungle gym
Gains leg strength, balances Small bunk to throw/catch
3 TO 4 YEARS
Builds complex structures Lincoln Logs
Wants highly realistic miniature toys (ages 4-7) Dollhouse, cars, fire station
Needs eye-hand coordination Spiro graph, caroms, big needlepoint
Big ball to bounce
Needs foot-eye coordination Sidewalk games
Begins math/science concepts Simple board games with counting (dice or
By age 5, can tell long story accurately & add
Short fiction & nonfiction in areas of interest
Asks how things work and meanings of words
4 TO 5 YEARS
Has lots of energy Ball games items
Likes complex projects (continues for days) Simple model boat, house
Likes cutting, pasting & folding Paper dolls, activity books, easy origami
Counts to 30s Cribbage, games with adding/substracting
5 TO 6 YEARS
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