Piagets Developmental Theory and Stages of Cognitive Development

Understanding children, how they develop, and how they learn is one of the most important jobs of a teacher, and there are many theories based on this understanding. Jean Piaget was a “biologist who originally studied mollusks, but moved into the study of the development of children’s understanding;” he studied children and their development and learning habits intensely (Atherton, 2009, pp.2). Piaget’s developmental theory is still studied today by education majors in order to understand how children develop, think, and learn, and this article will discuss Piaget’s developmental theory and stages of cognitive development.


This is the first stage of cognitive development in children, and this stage occurs from birth to two years old. This developmental stage is exemplified by a child’s ability to “differentiate self from objects,” and a child comes to the realization that “things continue to exist even when no longer present to the sense” (Atherton, 2009, pp.6). this stage in Piaget’s developmental theory also suggests that a child is starting to act with purpose.


The second stage of cognitive development includes children from the age of two to seven years old. This developmental stage is when a child starts using words and images to relate and symbolize objects and thoughts; during this time children will still find it hard to see from the perspectives of others (Atherton, 2009). This stage of cognitive development also signifies a child’s inability to classify objects by more than one feature.

Concrete operational

This stage of Piaget’s developmental theory encompasses the ages seven to eleven. During this developmental stage children learn to classify “objects according to several features and can order them in series along a single dimension;” children will also be capable to “think logically about objects and events” during this developmental stage of cognitive growth (Atherton, 2009, pp.9).

Formal operational

The final stage of cognitive development in Piaget’s theory occurs from the age of eleven and up. This stage signifies a child’s ability to hypothesize and test methodically. This developmental stage is also when children will become “concerned with the hypothetical, the future, and ideological problems” (Atherton, 2009, pp.11).

Piaget’s developmental theory has led to many other theories on children’s development, and some have argued and altered his theories, but his studies have had a very important impact on education. Piaget’s cognitive development theory has played a significant role in education theory on a child’s ability to learn.


ATHERTON J S (2009) Learning and Teaching;Piaget’s developmental theory[On-line] UK: Available: 1 April 2010