by Argentina Ciaramella
Jean Piaget was a very important Swiss biologist and epistemologist who described in detail the stages of child development from birth to adulthood. His theory describes four stages that a child goes through as they develop from birth.
The stages are divided into:
– Sensory-motor stage from 0 to 2 years.
– Pre-operative stage from 2 to 6 years.
– Concrete Operational stage from 6 to 12.
– Formal Operation stage from 12 years onwards.
Each of these stages represents goals achieved and determines new achievements and goals. In this article we will focus on the sensory-motor stage and the importance of your child’s development during this period.
THE SENSORY-MOTOR STAGE
According to Piaget, the child in this phase assumes an egocentric position and knows the external world through two fundamental processes: assimilation, through which he stores information, and accommodation, in which the child adapts his mental patterns to the new data of the experience.
The child is not yet able to distinguish himself from the external world for which sounds, people, things, follow each other for no reason. But as his cognitive functions develop, everything will begin to acquire a specific sense.
Piaget divides the sensory-motor stage into six substages, as this moment involves great growth and stimulation for the child:
1. Innate reflexes (from birth to 1 month): the child does not fully interact with reality but waits for it to satisfy his needs. In this, for example, the child uses crying as a means of obtaining something.
2. Primary circular reactions (2 to 4 months): the child discovers his capabilities. In this stage he begins to show interest in objects, seeks confirmation in his mother’s gaze and, slowly, begins to experiment with the world. Very important in this phase is the role of the mother who, thanks to the exchange, favors intentionality and reciprocity in her child. During this stage you will see children sucking their feet and putting everything they find in their mouths. It is their way of knowing the world. It is beneficial during this phase of development to offer the child different objects, with different textures, to allow him to discover new things.
3. Secondary circular reactions (4 to 8 months): the child begins to assimilate information and uses specific schemes to carry out a certain action. He begins to grasp things and enjoys seeing the repetition of an action he does: for example, he takes a ball and throws it to see it roll. Semi-structured situations are beginning to arise. The mother can offer the child a tactile book made with different fabrics, or various materials that the child enjoys touching and manipulating. Your child is starting to perceive pleasant and unpleasant things. Your child starts to grasp everything in front of him and enjoys seeing the success of the actions he performs.
4. Medium-fine coordination (from 8 to 12 months): the child coordinates more complex action schemes, for example, he puts a blanket over a teddy bear. In this phase the child begins to perceive that a hidden object remains there even if he no longer sees it. You can play with him to hide the objects under a blanket and then discover them. The child makes his mother participate in his game and thus shared attention emerges. The child likes to play with others. The game of peek-a-boo, which may seem trivial, is used by the child to perceive the permanence of the object. The mother can hide behind a rag and the baby will realize that it will be enough to move it to find her, just as you can hide the baby to help him achieve a greater perception of himself.
5. Circular tertiary reactions (12-18 months): in this phase the child begins to solve problems through trial and error. For example, to reach an object he will use different strategies until he finds the one that will allow him to reach his goal. The child begins to move away from the mother and explore his environment, gradually becoming freer, and learns to indicate the object of his desire.
6. Symbolic function appearance (from 18 months onwards): Up to this point in development the child has been able to recognize objects only through his senses. Now, however, he is able to have a mental representation of it. This causes deferred imitation to begin to manifest itself, that is, seeing a behavior, he will tend to repeat it after some time, and both language and symbolic play begin to appear. The child starts to play the game of “pretend” or starts to play with what they find such as, for example, lining up chairs to make a train, pretending to cook, or taking care of the doll.
From here we pass, according to Piaget, to a second phase the pre-operative stage which we will deal with in one of our next installments.