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Piaget’s Stages of Development

Piaget, a psychologist and theorist is recognized for his significant contribution to child development. The theorist studied children and established concepts explaining the various stages of a child’s cognitive development. In his view, children are a smaller reflection of adults, and their thinking is exceptional in its form. Children scientifically learn through their immediate environment without influence from their caregivers. In his theory, Piaget devised four stages through which a child develops their logical and scientific thinking ability (MediLexicon International, 2021). The paper provides an in-depth summary of the stages with citations of examples, as illustrated by the article by MediLexicon International (2021).

Stage 1: Sensorimotor

The stage lasts from birth to 2 years of a child’s age. According to the article by MediLexicon International (2021), a child’s thinking is anchored on the senses and motor activities in this stage. Through the influence of the environment, learning revolves around the five senses, and they start touching, looking, and biting. Communication is portrayed through suction and movement of hands and head. In this stage, a child can distinguish things as conveyed by the different senses. One vital concept Piaget described in this stage is cause and effect, which explains that a child begins to make connections between actions and results. Another concept understood is permanence. Here, the child becomes aware that an object still exists even if it cannot be seen, felt, or heard (MediLexicon International, 2021). Also, they start forming mental images and representations of objects. This concept explains permanence.

The article illustrates that children will portray behaviors indicative of the sensorimotor stage’s success. Learning is notable through the main concepts Piaget developed for this group of children. For instance, cause and effect can be observed when a child produces sound to obtain attention from the caregiver. Permanence skills are shown when a child believes the caregiver is around while playing, toys exist even if not in the vicinity, and the environment exists even if eyes are closed.

Stage 2: Preoperational

According to the article by MediLexicon International, the stage lasts from years 2 to 7. According to Piaget, cognitive development in this stage encompasses a broadening of prominence and mental processing. This stage is characterized by specific behavior changes, such as imitation, mimicking an individual’s behavior (MediLexicon International, 2021). This is done whether the individual is around or not. The children also symbolically play by using objects as symbols. The article uses an example of a stick to symbolize a sword.

MediLexicon International stresses that drawing is also common in this stage, involving imitation and symbolic plays. Also, visualization of things in the mind to create a mental image is common in this stage. Children also verbally evoke events, people, and objects. The kids are egocentric and use language to externalize thinking. Examples illustrated in the article for a child at this stage include imitation of people’s voices or movements when they are not around, representing things in the form of drawings, and developing imaginary relationships (MediLexicon International, 2021). Also, kids at this age start imagining and admiring people.

Stage 3: The Concrete Operational

This stage is for children between 7 and 11 years. It is characterized by logical thinking and less egocentricity. Concepts identified for this stage include conservation and reversibility, classification, and seriation. Classification involves arranging things according to their characteristics. In seriation, a child arranges things according to height, weight, and significance. The authors of this article provide several examples to create a picture of a child at this stage. For instance, acknowledging that the properties of water remain the same in different environments regardless of a change in state (MediLexicon International, 2021). Also, grouping crayons and toys with the same characteristics, such as color, size, and significance.

Stage 4: Formal Operational

This stage includes children above 12 years. According to Piaget, children in this group can understand abstract concepts and portray logic in reasoning. Skills acquired include analyzing and deduction. Deductive reasoning and hypothetical thinking enable them to consider possible outcomes of problems. The article uses an example of when a child is modeling a solar system at home. The child applies logical, hypothetic, and deductive reasoning to effectively use the materials available to make the anticipated end product (MediLexicon International, 2021). Also, the children can analyze factors that might cause their arguments with friends.

Important Concepts

The article’s author puts major emphasis on the theory concepts as established by Piaget. They include;

  • Schema

This is a mental representation of the world. According to MediLexicon International (2021), chemas are acquired through experiences and are learned through assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation involves the use of already acquired schemas to understand new things. For instance, if a child sees a dog never seen before, he/she uses their dog schema to classify the new animal as a dog. In accommodation, a child uses an existing schema to fit new ideas. For instance, a cat is added to the dog schema until their differences are explained.

  • Equilibration

This concept stimulates the continuity of the cognitive developmental stages. Newly acquired new information is disequilibrium in nature. This drives the accommodation of new knowledge to gain balance.

Challenges of Piaget’s Theory

The article identifies that the research on which Piaget’s evidence was based cannot stand using the current study standards. For instance, bias is evident in his research since he used a small sample size of children. Also, his target population was children in Western Europe, and therefore did not consider the influence of cultural and social factors on child development (MediLexicon International, 2021). Some researchers suggest that children acquire some skills way before, as outlined in Piaget’s stages.

Application of the Theory

According to the theorist, children learn through the environment’s exploration, interaction, and experimentation. Therefore, teachers can incorporate the concepts of the theory to promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills. For instance, the article illustrates that children can be helped to learn to do, answer questions and explore their senses (MediLexicon International, 2021). Problem-solving skills can be introduced to promote cognition.


Ultimately, Piaget observed children’s development and developed the “stages of development theory.” The theory has four stages that include sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. Its concepts include schema and equilibration. Caregivers and educators can apply the theory to promote learning and cognition in children. The main challenge of the theory is that the research method used does to qualify according to the current standards.


MediLexicon International. (December 22, 2021). Piaget’s stages of development: The 4 stages and tips for each. Medical News Today. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from


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