|You hear a lot in the media about how researchers in the field of early childhood education say the
early years of life, from ages 0-5, are the prime time for brain development. They tell us that children
should be exposed to numerous experiences that lead to cognitive development so that they will have
academic success when they begin school.
Most professionals point to preschools as places where young children will get the experiences they
need to acquire these skills. Why? What exactly is "cognitive development" and what can preschool
parents do to encourage it in their own young children without sending them to preschool?
There's no big mystery to "cognitive development." It refers to functions of the brain such as thinking,
learning, awareness, judgment, and processing information. These are things healthy children do
quite naturally as they learn and grow.
The Swiss philosopher and psychologist, Jean Piaget (1896-1980), was the first to suggest that
children go through different stages of cognitive or mental development and that learning activities
should correlate to and adjust with these developmental stages as follows:
Sensorimotor Stage, 0-2 years of age, child learns through sensation and movement.
Pre-Operational Stage, 2-7 years, children begin to understand and master symbols (language) and
draw from past experiences to make assumptions about things and people in their world.
Concrete Operational Stage, 7-11 years, the child's ability to reason begins, based on his/her own
Formal Operational Stage, 11+ years, children can speculate, understand abstract ideas, and develop
Piaget invented developmental psychology and cognitive theory - the foundation for education-reform
movements. Piaget inspired the belief that children are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge
(as traditional pedagogical theory had it) but active builders of knowledge who are constantly creating
and testing their own theories of the world.
A Typical Course of Study for
Homeschool unless otherwise stipulated.