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How we as human beings develop cognitively has been thoroughly researched Theorists have suggested that children are incapable of understanding the world until they reach a particular stage of cognitive development Cognitive development is the process whereby a childs understanding of the world changes as a function of age and experience Theories of cognitive development seek to explain the quantitative and qualitative intellectual abilities that occur during development No theory of cognitive development has had more impact than the cognitive stages presented by Jean Piaget Piaget a Swiss psychologist suggested that children go through four separate stages in a fixed order that is universal in all children Piaget declared that these stages differ not only in the quantity of information acquired at each but also in the quality of knowledge and understanding at that stage Piaget suggested that movement from one stage to the next occurred when the child reached an appropriate level of maturation and was exposed to relevant types of experiences Without experience children were assumed incapable of reaching their highest cognitive ability Piagets four stages are known as the sensorimotor preoperational concrete operationaland formal operational stages The sensorimotor stage in a child is from birth to approximately two years During this stage a child has relatively little competence in representing the environment using images language or symbols An infant has no awareness of objects or people that are not immediately present at a given moment Piaget called this a lack of object permanence Object permanence is the awareness that objects and people continue to exist even if they are out of sight In infants when a person hides the infant has no knowledge that they are just out of sight According to Piaget this person or object that has disappeared is gone forever to the infant The preoperational stage is from the age of two to seven years The most important development at this time is language Children develop an internal representation
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