The Preoperational Stage
Starts during toddler age and lasts up throughout early childhood. Use of symbols, language use, and egocentrism make up the key characteristics of this stage.
Children who are egocentric can only see the world from their point of view and assume what they see is what everyone else sees. For example, if two children sit at opposite ends of a table with the number “6” printed on it, one will say it says “6” while the other will insist it is “9”. Technically, both can be correct, however, the children will not be able to visualize the opposite number.
The Concrete Operational Stage
Happens during school age to early adolescence. This stage is a milestone in cognitive development because this is when a child learns how to use logic and reasoning. Here, they are able to understand the concept of conservation. For example, a volume of water does not change when poured from one glass to another. Additionally, children in this stage can arrange objects into two or more groups at a time, based on length, weight, and other characteristics.
The Formal Operational Stage
During this stage, a person learns how to think about abstract (imagined) concepts. Theories are proven or disproven through experimentation or trial and error. Propositional thought or verbal reasoning also develops during this stage. Formal operational stage begins during adolescence and typically lasts throughout a person’s life.
Piaget’s theory offers insight on how a child slowly creates a model of the world in their minds. The theory also offers insight on how you should communicate with a child depending on what stage in cognitive development they’re currently in.
Santrock’s Developmental Stages
Recent development theories in the field of psychology include John Santrock’s stages of development, which chart out the entirety of a person’s life. Santrock’s theory divides the human lifespan into eight periods namely:
- Prenatal period (infancy to birth)
- Infancy (birth to 18-24 months)
- Early childhood (2-5 years)
- Middle and late childhood (6-11 years)
- Early adulthood
- Middle adulthood
- Late adulthood
Havighurst’s Developmental Tasks Theory
Santrock and Havighurst developmental stages are similar. Both consider development as a continuous process that lasts throughout a person’s entire life. These theories also propose that developments occur in stages.
Havighurst’s theory proposes that individuals need to achieve one developmental phase before moving onto the next. Peers and supportive groups encourage an individual to develop along with an increase sense of accomplishment. The stages of Havighurst’s theory together with their corresponding developmental tasks are the following:
- Infancy and Early Childhood (0-5 years old): Learning to walk, talk, and interact with others
- Middle Childhood (6-12 years old): Learning to read, write and be more independent
- Adolescence (13-17 years old): Learning about gender-based roles
- Early Adulthood (18-35 years old): Learning to establish a career and a family
- Middle Age (36-60 years old): Learning to adjust to physiological changes
- Later Maturity (over 60 years old): Learning to adjust to old age and retirement.
Understanding the different theories that discuss the stages of development can offer a deeper insight on how the human body and mind changes over the years. These theories can also offer insight on how parents, guardians, or teachers ought to communicate and teach young children in a way that they can truly learn.
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