The renowned psychologist, Jean Piaget, spent his life studying how a child’s intelligence develops from infancy through to adolescence and into adulthood. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development charts the four stages of cognitive development and plots them in an ages and stages child development chart.
Stage 1: Sensori motor Intelligence
Stage one is the sensori-motor intelligence stage that relates to a baby and toddler’s behavior between 0 and 2 years of age. According to Piaget, a newborn baby has a very limited interaction with his environment and is largely restricted to learning via simple reflexes such as sucking, crying, seeing, and touching.
Intelligence develops as the newborn experiences new sensations through his reflexes and the baby slowly learns to communicate his needs through different cries. By the age of 2, a toddler learns that objects can still exist even when hidden from view. Toddlers soon learn to imitate others and use a simple form of creativity to solve problems.
Stage 2: Pre Operational Thought
Stage two is the pre-operational thought stage between the ages of 2 and 7 years of age. By this stage of cognitive development, a child has progressed from using his senses and movement to learn about the environment to learning how to think in a conceptual-symbolic way. Most children have mastered language skills by the age of four, although conversations tend to be rather one-sided.
Piaget uses the terms “centration” and “egocentrism” to describe children in this stage of development. Centration refers to the ability to think operations through in a logical fashion. Egocentrism is a narcissistic tendency whereby the child is unable to understand another’s point of view, although this has normally disappeared by the end of stage two.
Stage 3: Concrete Operations of Cognitieve Development
Stage three is the concrete operations stage of cognitive development, roughly between the ages of 8 and 10. By this stage, children are able to use logic to solve hands-on, or “concrete” problems. They have also moved on from the egocentric stage and are able to take on board viewpoints of other people, plus they are able to use reversibility to think backwards.
Stage 4: Formal Operations
Stage four in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is the formal operations stage between 11 and 15. By the time a child has progressed to this stage of his development, he has developed a wide range of cognitive skills and is able to solve abstract problems, understand concepts, and draw conclusions.
It is during this stage that a different type of egocentric behavior develops as the ability to imagine what others are thinking often leads to a critical self awareness and concerns over identity and social issues. Thinking ability continues to develop throughout the formal operations stage of cognitive development and stage four marks the beginnings of the journey towards independence as teenagers begin to question the authority of adults and move away from their parents.
Stage 5: Modifications of Operations
Stage five is the modifications to operations stage of Piaget’s cognitive development chart and this relates to young adults aged 16 and older. At this point in a teenager’s development, Piaget believes operational thought is fully developed and the ages and stages of child development chart have finally been completed.