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Promoting Cognitive Development

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Piaget’s Stages of Learning and Development

Piaget theory. How can I tell if my child is developing properly for his age? How do children think, and what are the stages of their cognitive development? Is it normal for my daughter to make mistakes when she talks or tries to reason? The Piaget Theory explains the different developmental stages of children. Find out if your child is developing properly for their age. I’ll help you find the answers!

Piaget Theory: Sensorimotor Stage (children 0-2)

What can you do to promote the cognitive development of your child in the sensory-motor stage?

  • Boost circular reactions: Have you noticed your baby sucking his thumb? Or the sounds it makes when it wants to sleep? That he/she shakes the rattle and repeats this action over and over again? When a baby repeats the same behavior over and over, we are faced with circular reactions. When a baby shakes his rattle over and over again, it’s because he likes the sound and wants to hear it again. At this point you can, for example, take the rattle and shake it on another surface to make a different sound. This way the baby learns that by modifying the stimulus the sound changes and this will lead to exploring.
  • Let the baby play and explore different objects and toys: This way the child will explore beyond himself.
  • From 1.5+ years you can play at hiding objects:  Play Peek-a-boo where you show her a toy/your face/any object and then hide it and “find it again”.  Repeat the procedure but let the child attempt to find it.

full length of boy sitting on floor


Piaget Theory- Preoperational Stage (2-7 years-old)

What can you do to help the cognitive development of your child in the preoperational stage?

  • Adjust to your child’s cognitive development: Keep in mind your child’s development stage and adapt to their thinking.
  • Put symbolic play into practice: Through this activity, many of your children’s skills are developed and they allow them to form an inner picture of the world. Through play you can learn the roles and situations of the world around you: pretend to eat or drink, pretend to drive, pretend to be a doctor and help someone else, etc. You can practice any activity that helps your child expand his or her language, develop empathy, and strengthen his or her mental representations of the world around you.
  • Encourage exploration and experimentation: Let him discover colors and their classification, tell him how some things happen, plants or animals, convey curiosity to learn.

woman wearing white sleeveless top

Piaget Theory: Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years-old)

What can you do to help cognitive development in the concrete operational stage?

  • Help strengthen your child’s reversible thinking: Practicing these exercises can help your child develop logical and reasoning skills. This is not only important for the management of numbers and mathematics, but also for the development of your child’s adult life. For example, ask what is the result of adding two numbers together. If the result is 8, we can ask them to help us find two numbers that add up to 8. Reversible thinking can be exercised in almost any situation of everyday life. For example, when you are in the supermarket and you estimate the price of what the purchase will cost you. Or when you do it the other way around, and you estimate how much each food you are about to buy costs to get to you with the money you carry.
  • Ask him or her to help you answer questions and ask questions: For example, how would you help a lost animal find its owner? How do we keep the food from getting cold? How do we get to Grandma’s house if the car’s in the shop?
  • Help him understand the relationships between the phenomena that happen in nature or social life: Why do you think your grandfather might be sad if we don’t go to visit him, what do you think will happen if it doesn’t rain this winter?
  • Strengthen his reasoning capacity: Help him to question concrete facts.
  • Use validated Brain Games or cognitive stimulation programs for children.

Formal Operational (11 years and older)

What can you do to help the cognitive development of children and adolescents 11 years and older?

  • Try to motivate them to ask questions: Use everyday facts and try to get them to reason about the factors that have caused a certain outcome. Help him to consider deductions or hypotheses.
  • Discuss with the child or adolescent: Try to help him/her express him/herself and explain his/her way of thinking to you when faced with different issues. Expose your way of seeing things and find the positive and negative points of each point of view. You can also address ethical issues.

people gathering during sunset

Should you be worried about a delay in your child’s development?

If, for example, when your child is starting school, the child shows noticeable delays in relating letter to sound or sounding out words, you may want to think about bringing them to see a reading specialist so areas of concern can be addressed. The earlier a lag in development is caught, the more likely it is that a learning gap can be remediated.

At Jersey Shore Learning Center, we are dedicated to helping both parents and their children. We educate the parents on how their child’s brain works and what each child needs in order to succeed. We teach each child in a one to one setting and put them on a path to success!

Mary Beth D’Antoni

Owner and Founder of Jersey Shore Learning Center in Brielle, NJ.



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