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Jean Piaget (1896 -  1980) was a clinical psychiatrist famous for his groundbreaking work in the field of child development. His theory of cognitive development broke human development into four distinct stages. 

Stage I: Birth to 2 Years old

In the earliest stages of life babies develop their senses and begin interacting with their environment. In this beginning stage development happens rapidly as babies learn motor function and develop reflexes as a response to external stimuli. 

Stage II: 2 Years to 7 Years old

The second stage is known as the pre-operational stage. At this age children may not be able to think logically but instead rely on symbols and their own mental constructions. 

Stage III: 7 Years old to 11 Years old

The third stage is called the concrete operations stage. At this point in their development, children are able to think beyond their egocentric view of the world and begin to use logic and develop problem solving skills.

Stage IV: 11 Years old to 16 Years old

The fourth and final stage is known as the formal operations stage. Children develop the ability to think about the future and the consequences of actions. 

The Constructivist model, most famously associated with Piaget, is just one way of viewing cognitive development. Watch the Kahn Academy video to the right for more information.

Do you ever see adults trying in vain to reason with an upset child? Piaget would say it is because the child lacks the cognitive development to understand what the adult is trying to say.

By no means do I believe his model is complete. For example, the frontal lobe does not fully develop into our mid to late 20s. For more educational theories, visit my page on Constructivism, Behaviorism and Humanism.

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