Developmental biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget established guidelines for the stages of child development that describe cognitive ability from birth through the teen years. From infancy to about the age of two, the children are considered in the Sensorimotor Stage. From the age of two to seven, youngsters develop in the Preoperational Stage.
Initially, the only awareness that babies have of the world involves the environment in their immediate vicinity. They learn about the world by handling objects, dropping or throwing items and putting objects in their mouth. They eventually come to realize that certain actions cause desired results. As physical ability and mobility advance, cognitive development also expands.
• Infancy-Babies observe focus and recognize the faces, voices, smell and touch of parents and other loved ones.
• Age 1-Symbolic thinking emerges as young children use gestures or words to communicate wants or needs. They also learn that specific words represent particular images or objects.
• Age 2-The language and thought processes of toddlers gradually expand though communication skills remain somewhat limited. Children at this age experiment with different uses for toys or other objects. They also strive to learn why the same action repeatedly causes the same result. Problem solving skills typically involve going through or over rather than avoiding obstacles. Little ones test their physical ability and limitations in addition to exploring cause and effect relationships.
Verbal communication skills mature. Imagination and memory also develop during this time, which helps children learn and comprehend the difference between past, present and future. Cognitive thinking skills initially lack logical concepts at this point.
• Age 3-Youngsters have the ability to group things together using categorical ideas. Understands the difference between boys and girls, colored or shapes objects. They begin seeing similarities in their immediate environment with concepts in the outside world. For example, other mommies and daddies also drive
vehicles. Demonstrate creative thinking when problem solving.
• Age 4-By this time, children are capable of understanding the sequence of events, can count and differentiate between opposites. Youngsters also demonstrate the ability to argue, explain or rationalize. They begin understanding the basics of growth, death and events related to climate, which include sunshine, precipitation, wind and evaporation.
• Age 5-At this stage, youngsters use more complex thinking skills including strategy to navigate and problem solve when confronted with different situations. They also actively collect and mentally organize information. Children become more socially involved and are extremely aware of rules. They also demonstrate the need to assist others in solving problems.
• Age 6-Begin thinking independently using stored information to differentiate between variables or solve everyday or basic mathematical problems. Prefers finding solutions independently rather than seeking help from adults. Considers solutions before acting. Further explores physical limitations.