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Jean Piaget a Swiss cognitive theorist who believed that childrens learning depends on reinforcements such as rewards from adults According to his cognitive- developmental theory children actively construct knowledge as they explore their world Berk 2008 Piaget separated cognitive development into 4 main stages which he called Sensorimotor Pre-Operational Concrete Operational and Formal Operational According to Piaget this sequence is invariant all children will progress through the stages in the same order During the sensorimotor stage from birth to around 18-24 months infants are not yet able to use symbols or images to represent objects in the external world Essa 2009 To think about an object they must act on it with their senses and motor abilities The major advance of this stage is object permanence the understanding that objects continue to exist outside of sensory awarenessIf an infant reaches for a toy and you cover it with a cloth he or she will stop reaching and look at something else If you secretly remove the toy and then lift the cloth the baby will look at the empty spot without surprise or disappointment According to Piaget the baby does not yet have object permanence out of sight is out of mind By a year of age children develop object permanence and can use mental representation and think about objects that are not physically presentFrom 2 to about 7 the child is in the preoperational stage of development Now they can use mental representation to think They begin to use pretend play Children are now capable of symbolic representation - using a symbol to represent an object Berk 2008 Because of this children learn language a system of symbolsPiaget emphasized that during this period childrens abilities are limited One pervasive limitation of childrens reasoning during the preoperational period is egocentrism the inability to take the perspective of another person A child may assume that everyone has the same knowledge experiences and perspective
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