Piaget's theory of cognitive development

I often mention Piaget when we are toning the canvas. I ask you to play with the material, as you played with the dummy in your first few months of life. Most people can't remember that, but it's worth trying to recreate that sense of play, wonder and kineaesthetic exploration.

Learning through movement

In the induction process I also ask you about your movement training... and tell you that I don't care how long ago it was, nor how young you were when you did it!

Learning through movement

Jean Piaget's work helped establish how important movement and touch are to the developing brain. Here is a simplified map of Piaget's stages of infant development. We travel through some of these stages again each time we paint.

Piaget's theory of cognitive development

I use various strategies to enhance and amplify these stages when appropriate.

Here's more detail, if you want it:

Stage Age Description
1: Simple reflexes Birth-6 weeks Coordination of sensation and action through reflexive behaviors.
Three primary reflexes:
  1. sucking of objects in the mouth
  2. following moving or interesting objects with the eyes
  3. closing of the hand when an object makes contact with the palm (palmar grasp)
2: First habits & primary circular reactions 6 weeks-4 months Coordination of sensation and two types of schema: habits (reflex) and primary circular reactions (reproduction of an event that initially occurred by chance).
Passive reactions, caused by classical or operant conditioning, can begin.
3: Secondary circular reactions 4–8 months Development of habits.
Infants become more object-oriented, moving beyond self-preoccupation.
The differentiation between means and ends also occurs. This is perhaps one of the most important stages of a child's growth as it signifies the dawn of logic.
4: Coordination of secondary circular reactions stages 8–12 months Coordination of vision and touch—hand-eye coordination; coordination of schemas and intentionality.
This stage is associated primarily with the development of logic and the coordination between means and ends. This is an extremely important stage of development, holding what Piaget calls the "first proper intelligence". Also, this stage marks the beginning of goal orientation, the deliberate planning of steps to meet an objective.
5: Tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity 12–18 months Infants become intrigued by the many properties of objects and by the many things they can make happen to objects; they experiment with new behavior.
This stage is associated primarily with the discovery of new means to meet goals. Piaget describes the child at this juncture as the "young scientist", conducting pseudo-experiments to discover new methods of meeting challenges.
6: Internalization of schemas 18–24 months The ability to use primitive symbols and form enduring mental representations.
This stage is associated primarily with the beginnings of insight, or true creativity. This marks the passage into the preoperational stage.

This table is a simplified version of the one at Piaget's theory of cognitive development at Wikipedia.