Child Development Child development is a varied and

Child development is a varied and complex subject. In this article, I will review the cognitive developmental stages formulated by Jean Piaget, a developmental biologist. These stages of cognitive development can help teachers understand the developmental stage of the students in their English classes and can help to make their teaching methods more effective. The first stage of cognitive development as defined by Piaget is the sensory motor period. This period happens between birth and twenty- four months. There are several sub stages, but most of them focus on motor skill development and reflexive response development. These skills and responses are the primary tools used to obtain and process information about the surrounding world.

The preoperational period comes next and occurs between the ages of two and seven. From age two to four, the preoperational sub stage occurs. During this time, verbal speech is increased, but remains egocentric. The child has difficulty understanding life from any other perspective than its own. Egocentrism of the young child leads them to believe that everyone thinks as they do, and that the whole world shares their feelings and desires. Play becomes symbolic and imagination begins to form. Along with symbolic play, the ability to think about an object without the object being present begins to develop. The pre-operational child may have difficulty with classification.

Between ages four and seven, the intuitive phase occurs. Speech becomes more social, less egocentric. Although the child is able to focus on things outside of themselves, they cannot focus on more than one aspect of an object at any given time. Logical thinking begins to develop in some areas, but reality is not firmly developed and the child will still believe in magical thinking.

The next period is concrete operational thinking. This period occurs between the ages of seven and eleven. This stage is also characterized by a loss of egocentric thinking. Organized, logical thought begins to develop. The child begins to be able to do concrete problem solving. During this period categorical labeling develops and the child is able to sort unlike items into logical groups. Categorization was previously demonstrated on superficial attributes.

The last period of Piaget's cognitive development is the period of formal operations. This period occurs between the ages of eleven and fifteen. During this time thought becomes more abstract and incorporates the principles of formal logic. Abstract and multiple hypothesis thinking develops. Formal logical systems such as algebraic calculations can be acquired during this period. The formal operational stage is characterized by the ability to formulate hypotheses and systematically test them to arrive at an answer to a problem.

As we can see from these periods, the human brain is not fully developed until late adolescence or early adulthood. Often, we expect children to behave as adults, but as we can see in relation to these periods, it is physically impossible for them to be able to do thinking above their period of development. As teachers we must take our student's developmental stage into account when developing and implementing our lesson plans.