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Theory of Cognitive Development

• Develop 4 stages of cognitive development and finer units of schemas
under each stage.
• To progress from 1 period to the next, the child reorganizes his thinking
process to bring them closer to reality.



Sensorimotor Intelligence of “Practical Intelligence” using senses (reflex

behavior) of infants to relate.

Ex. Cry when hungry


A. Neonatal Reflex – 1 months.

Nursing Implication: Behavior is entirely reflexive

B. Primary Circular Reaction– 1 to 4 months old

- spends time looking at objects around

Significant behavior
• hand to mouth Coordination develops
• ear to eye

Primary – refers to activities related to child’s own body

Circular Reaction – demonstrate that repetition of behavior occurs.

Ex: hand – to – mouth –suck

(body sensation and so is repeated)

Ex. Ear to eye

( rattle or tape of a parent voice)

C. Secondary Circular Reaction – 4 to 8 months

One earns to initiate, recognizes and repeat pleasing experiences from

Secondary – activities that are separate from the child’s body

Significant behavior
• Memory traces are present
• Anticipates familiar events
Ex. Mother coming near him will pick him up
Learn objects around (bottle, blocks, bed, parent)

Good toy – mirror (recognition)

Play – peek a Boo

Example of Secondary Schema Learning

• When a baby hits a mobile and notices that this makes a move, and so
hits it again.

Concept of Permanence

• Development of task “Trust”

• Infant know that their parent exist and will return to them

D. Coordination of Secondary Reactions – 8 to 12 months

Significant behaviors
• Begins to demonstrate goal directed behavior
• Can plan activities to attain specific goal
• Perceives activities of own body are separate from activity of object
• Recognizes shapes/sizes of familiar objects
• Can search/retrieve toys that disappear from view
• Increased sense of separateness
- Result to
 Separation anxiety when caregiver leaves

Good Toy – nesting toy

Ex: colored boxes

Ex: after noticing that hiring a mobile makes it move, infant then each for and hits
a nearby music box or rattle.

Purpose? Actively seeking new experiences.

Experimenting and learning can proceed – by giving enough stimulating objects

to explore.


E. Tertiary Circular – 12 to 18 months reaction

Specific Behavior:
• Discover new properties of objects and events
• Capable of space/time perception/permanence
• Objects outside self are understood as causes of actions
• Uses trial/error to discover new characters of objects and events

Good Play: Throw /retrieve a ball

F. Invention of New Means – 18 to 24 months (thru mental combinations)

Specific Behaviors:
• Transitional phase to the pre- operational thought period
• Uses memory/imitation to act
• Can solve basic problems
• Foresee maneuvers that will succeed or fail
• Able to think through actions or mentally project the solutions to a

• If with a box, will investigate to open or how the top of the box can be
• 2nd box differs in shape, he can foresee how the top can be removed
• Toddler following a ball that has rolled under a table
(will no longer follow the balls path but he can now project where it rolled
and walked around the coffee table to find it again)

Toys: Blocks
Colored plastic rings

2. Pre-Operational Thought - 2 – 7 years old (PRE-SCHOOLER)

Significant behaviors
(use symbols for objects)
- thought becomes more symbolic
- comprehend simple abstractions but thinking is basically concrete
and literal
- child is egocentric (self-centered)
1. unable to see viewpoint of another
2. perceiving that one’s thoughts and needs are better than others.
- Display Static thinking
1. inability to remember what he started to talk about and end up
talking but another topic
- concept of time is now!
- Concept of distance is only as far as he can see!
- Focusing on a single aspect of an object causes distorted
- No awareness of reversibility is present.
1. “That for every action there is an opposite action”.
- unable to state “cause-effect relationship”
Good Toy : Modeling Clay

• They relearn on a conceptual level

• Unable to view one object as necessarily being different from another.
Ex. On a walk to toy land at SM children do not know whether they are
seeing succession of toys or same ones keep reappearing.
• They draw conclusion only from obvious facts they see.
1. daddy is shaving, so he is going to work, because he went to work after
he shaved yesterday.


Specific behavior:

• Concrete operations includes systematic reasoning

• Uses memory to learn broad concepts (fruit) and subgroups of concepts
• Classifications involves sorting objects according to attributes
1. color
2. shape
• child is aware of reversibility
• understands conservation (time glass)
• sees constancy despite transformation
ex. Beads in a glass
• able to discover concrete solution to everyday problem
• recognizes cause and effect relationship
• reasoning is inductive
(specific to general)

Ex. Can reason that a toy they are holding is broken, that the toys is made
of plastic and that all plastic toys breaks easily.

Good Activity: Collecting/classifying objects

Ex: plants, shells, stamps

4. Formal Operational Thought – 12 years old (ADOLESCENT)

Specific behavior:
• cognition achieves final form
• solve hypothetical problems and scientific reasoning
• understands causality
• can deal with the past, present and future
• adult/mature thought

Activity – “Talk Time”