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Theory of Cognitive
Child Development

Theory of Cognitive Child Development article by K. Perry

Cognitive Child Development

...Jean Piaget has allowed us many insights into cognitive development and his valuable research made great inroads concerning brain functioning in general.

According to Piaget and his theories on child cognitive development, children are born with a great desire to interact with and understand the world around them.

The term cognitive child development refers to how a "child perceives, thinks and gains understanding of the world through interaction and influence of genetic and learned factors"(plotnik-1999).

According to Piaget, four areas define intelligence and child brain development and these include: a biological approach to intelligence; the cognitive succession of stages; knowledge; intellectual competence.

Many preschool and other cognitive child development programs are based on Piagets theories regarding cognitive development and instruct that the parent or teacher challenge the child's abilities while taking care not to introduce concepts which are beyond his understanding.

Combine this with hands-on experiences, game playing and field trips, as well as craft making and you have the basis of the full learning program derived from Piaget's research materials on cognitive development.

Piaget divided child brain development into further categories as follows: The sensor motor cognitive development stage, where intelligence is shown through motor activity with a strong lack of symbols.

Interaction at this stage of cognitive development is fully dependant on the environment and object permanence is achieved at 7 months of age. Natural cognitive development and increased mobility allows for new intellectual ability at this stage.

The pre-operational cognitive development stage occurs in toddlers and during early childhood. Intelligence is shown through basic symbol usage and language increases as well during this cognitive development stage.

Egocentric thinking begins to dominate but is achieved in a non-logical and non-reversible manner. This cognitive development period also sees a more developed imagination with vastly improved memory.

A further period of child brain development is reached during the elementary and early adolescent years. Intelligence is shown by the increased use of symbols and language understanding also increases. Egocentric thought is diminished during this time, while operational thinking relating to reversible actions increases dramatically.

During the formal operational stage of cognitive development, intelligence is demonstrated through the use of symbols in relation to abstract concepts.

This period of cognitive development occurs during adolescence and young adulthood and shows a return to egocentric thought patterns during the early phase of this stage.

Piaget's research methods regarding child cognitive development were based on his own case studies. Many of his ideas on cognitive development have been supported by ongoing study in this field.

However, several of his theories on child cognitive development and child brain development have not been corroborated by further research and remain shadowy and unproven.

Anyone wishing to research child cognitive development in any depth would do well to begin with the findings of Jean Piaget and go on from that point.

Many well-researched books and articles are easily available for anyone wishing to understand the vast field of cognitive child development and we have Piaget to thank for opening many doors in this area! Ongoing research into child cognitive development will certainly unveil many more guidelines in the near future.

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