CognitiveDevelopment during Infancy
CognitiveDevelopment during Infancy
Aninfant refers to a newborn between one month and twelve-month-oldchild. At birth, the infants are often helpless and aware of fewthings. However, it takes a few months for a child to understandvarious things including speech, temperature change, mother’sscent, and voice among others. Researchers claim that infants developat extremely high speed from each month. The development ismultidimensional because it involves physical, mental, and cognitiveaspects. This research will focus on cognitive development duringinfancy
Thecognitive development of a child encompasses the capability of a babyunderstanding the world. Acquiring the world model is significantbecause it assists individuals to plan the future, as well as utilizeexperience from their past. This research will be guided by Piaget’stheory of cognitive development. The theorist was inspired indiscovering factors that influenced learning and thinking in infants(Berry et al., 2014). His study was based on young children betweenone month to nineteen years. The researcher concluded that childrenthink differently from adults. Besides, he discovered that thecognitive development in infants could be sub-divided into four,distinct and universal, cognitive development phases. Therefore,cognition develops in the same sequence among all children(Wadsworth, 1996).
Piagetalso discovered that all children pass through all the stagesfollowing the same sequence, and it is impossible to miss any phase,but some people may never reach the last stages. Personal differencesdo exist concerning the speed at which each child develops past thevaried stages. This explains the reason Piaget refrained fromdescribing the specific age at which a child attained givendevelopment status (Berry et al., 2014).
Accordingto the Piagetian theory of cognitive development, infants undergofour key stages prior to reaching adolescent phase. In thesensorimotor stage, toddlers and infants think using a sensorimotorequipment such as hands, eyes, and ears. However, the scheme infantsuse keep changing with age. The initial schemes are action-based, butover time, they progress to the mental level (Green, 1971).
Howcognitive changes happen
Thecognitive changes in infants happen through both adaptation andassimilation. Adaptation refers to the process of creating schemesvia direct contact with the surroundings. On the other hand,assimilation is a unique adaptation that interprets the externalworld using prevailing schemes. The accommodation is anothercognitive adaptation where old schemes might be amended or new onescould be developed to create a better understanding of theenvironment (Piaget, 1976). The equilibrium occurs among children whoare experiencing insignificant environmental change. In addition, theinfants should be in a contended cognitive status. On the other hand,disequilibrium is a cognitive discomfort status that happens duringrapid change moments. Piaget (1976) asserts that the accommodation isoften used compared to assimilation. The to-and-from movement fromdisequilibrium to equilibrium facilitates development of moreefficient schemes.
Organizationis another significant part of cognitive development. The processrefers to an internal function that rearranges and interconnectsschemes to make interlocked cognitive system. For schemes to attainan equilibrium state, it should be connected to various structuresthat are cooperatively used in interpreting the environment (Green,1971).
Accordingto Piaget (1976), reality is a vibrant structure of uninterruptedchange, thus the reason its definition is associated with the twofactors used in defining dynamic systems. The researcher particularlycontended that reality encompasses states and transformations. Thestates are appearances or situations that people or things could bepositioned from one transformation to the other. He further claimedthat the human intelligence as an infant grows older. He claimed thatinfants use operative intelligence in the manipulation andrepresentation of transformational or dynamic characteristics ofreality. Operative intelligence refers to the dynamic form ofknowledge (Piaget, 1976).
Piagetdeveloped the characteristics of this stage through observing hisyoung ones. The phase is the first one, out of four stages, whichconstitute cognitive development. The stage begins at birth and untilfirst language acquisition (Bates, 1979). During this phase, infantsincreasingly build world familiarity and understanding viacoordinated activities, such as hearing and vision, with physicalassociation with objects (such as stepping, grasping, and sucking).Infants acquire environmental knowledge from the physical actionsthey undertake. The actions then gradually transform from reflexiveto instinctual action, which begins at birth and extends to thesymbolic thinking towards the last part of the phase. Piaget claimsthat the biggest cognitive development for an infant during thisdevelopment stage is object permanence. Infants discover that givenobjects are still present in the environment, despite the fact thatthey cannot hear or see the objects. The researcher sub-divided thesensorimotor into six main stages that an infant undergoes from birthup to 24 months (Green, 1971).
Thisis the second cognitive development stage in Piaget’s theory. Thephase extends from about two years until the child attains sevenyears. In many cases, several children start speaking when they areabout two years. Children in this development stage cannot manipulateinformation mentally since they have their logic capacity is notcompletely developed. The fact that children cannot see things fromdifferent perspectives, they mainly play symbol games. The symbolsare customized to exemplify certain objects (Berry et al., 2014). Thelittle logic that infants have acquired by this stage does help themto play the games successfully despite the fact that the actualobjects are absent. By the fourth year, Piaget asserted that infantscan create magical and logic concepts although their mentaloperations are still limited. However, the child is still incapableof executing their thoughts physically. In addition, the thoughperspective is still egocentric, thus the kid normally views issuesfrom their personal perspective (Bates, 1979).
Pre-operativestage is further classified into two additional classes that includethe intuitive thought and symbolic function substage. The latterrefers to the development phase when children can remember,understand, picture, and represent physical things in the minddespite the fact that they cannot see the actual object physically.On the other hand, intuitive thought substage refers to the momentwhen infants starts developing critical exploratory mind (Piaget,1976). In such instances, the children begin asking questions such as“how come?” and “why?”
Thisstage is common in infants between two and four years old. Thechildren are not able process information using logic concepts, butthey can interpret symbols and images logically. In addition, theycan act (such as manipulating a person) or communicate effectivelyusing oral language. The symbolic may involve presumed friends oractual role-playing partners. According to psychologists, thecomplexity of the role-playing games keeps increasing as the mentaldevelopment of children increases (Wadsworth, 1996). The game chosendemonstrates the capability of infants to associate with others, aswell as their innovation. Besides, the characters and quality of thegame may influence behavior of children afterwards. For example,children playing games that depict high violence could developunsocial characters that could deteriorate to an extreme level duringadulthood (Piaget, 1976). The main limitations children experience inthis development phase are precausal and egocentrism reasoning.Egocentrism refers to a situation when a child cannot see things fromthe angle of another person. The children stick to their reasoningirrespective of what others want because they do not even understandwhether there is a concept such as another person’s viewpoint(Bates, 1979).
Thisstage normally occurs in children between four and seven years. Sincethey have developed significant level of knowledge, they begin askingprimitive exploratory adults. In many cases, the questions are oftenbased on primitive reasoning. Throughout this stage, children develophigh interest for understanding why things function as they do.Piaget named the stage “intuitive” because children just discoverthat they have accumulated plenty of knowledge that they do notunderstand its source. Some of the common behaviors of this classinclude conservation, centration, class inclusion, andirreversibility (Wadsworth, 1996).
Thisis the third infant cognitive development phase in Piaget’s theory.The stage extends from seven to eleven years. During this phase, theinfant is capable of demonstrating effective application of logic.This implies that the thoughts of the infant are quite mature, thusthey can reason well with an adult. However, the infant’s thinkingis only applicable on objective and concrete situations only. Forinstance, an infant can understand that person A is stouter thanperson B. However, the child cannot explain the underlying reasonthat has caused the size difference (Wadsworth, 1996).
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Piaget,J. (1976). Piagetand His School.Springer study Edition. Pp. 11-23.
Bates,E. (1979). Infantpsychology Cognition in infants Children Symbolism (Psychology)Language development Psycholinguistics Language.Academic Press  (New York).
Green,Donald R. Ford, Marguerite P. Flamer, George B. , (1971). Thetheory of stages in cognitive development.New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill, ix, 283 pp.
Wadsworth,B. J. (1996). Piaget`stheory of cognitive and affective development: Foundations ofconstructivism (5th ed.).White Plains, NY, England: Longman Publishing. xi 195 pp.