Cognitive Development in Education

There are many different aspects to a child’s development, and this includes her cognitive development. This is a natural part of her growth and learning and is contributed to by both her education and social experiences. There are many cognitive abilities, and these include skills such as problem-solving, memory and reasoning. Here is an overview of cognitive development in children’s education.

Piaget and schemas

The renowned psychologist, Jean Piaget, focused a lot of his research on the intellectual development of children. One of his theories was that children created schemas. These are categories that they mentally created to group people, objects and subjects that they learned about. They do this to interpret and organize information. As similar items are grouped together, children include any additional information that they have learned about the items to group them differently. This constant revision of information that they already possess helps them to learn new information and is an important part of their cognitive development and education.

Piaget’s ‘Stages of Cognitive Development’

Piaget defined cognitive development by devising stages of development. A child will basically go through four stages of cognitive development in her education, and this takes into account the period from birth to adulthood. These stages of cognitive development are:

-Sensorimotor stage: This is the first two years of a child’s life. During this time the child has limited knowledge of the world that is based on her sensory perceptions and basic motor skills. Sensory stimuli create a motor response from the child.

-Preoperational stage: A child between the ages of 2 and 6 does not understand logic, the views of others or the manipulation of information. At this stage a child’s cognitive development focuses on the use of language.

-Concrete operational stage: This period occurs between the ages of 7 and 11. The child begins to develop a knowledge of mental operations, such as thinking logically. However, at this stage the child still cannot understand hypothetical or abstract concepts.

-Formal operational stage: The final stage, from age 12 through to adulthood, involves the cognitive development of systematic planning, logical reasoning and other abstract concepts.

How young children learn

Cognitive development is affected by a number of different factors. First is the influence on significant people, such as parents and teachers. Social interaction is especially important in the early years of education. Secondly, a child naturally possesses the skills that are required for cognitive development to take place, and these are evident even in young babies. Finally, research shows that cognitive development is dependent upon multi-sensory neurons in the brain.


Cognitive development is a natural process that takes place as part of a child’s formal and informal education. It is a process that begins at birth and continues through to adulthood and can be defined by stages that identify the specific processes of learning that take place. Cognitive development is affected by social, neurological and biological factors. These factors may contribute differently at different stages of the cognitive development process.