Accommodation of new experiences into our ideas of the world produced significant mental development. When unable to frame the experience based on our current ideas, we must change our ideas in order to accommodate the new experience. Leaps and bounds in cognitive ability happen in this time according to Piaget.
Four stages were used as a tool in Piaget's work with children. They are sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational. Each stage is also related to an age period. Sensorimotor is from birth to two years of age, where a child uses sensation and movement to learn about their surrounding world. A world based on objects directly above and around them, and they adapt to new places by what they have learned with touch, sound, and sight.
From age two to seven, pre-operational, is where language gets integrated, and questions abound. Now the ideas they had about the world are expanded with further understanding by words being assigned to things, explanations of new items, and movement again to further experiences.
Concrete operational is when children can think about what an item or object can be by using their current knowledge. Ideas begin to solidify during this period, happening in the ages seven to eleven. By the time the child is eleven years old, the logical reasoning is a permanent part of their being. In other mental development theories, synapses form quickly in infancy and prune themselves in the adolescent years. Piaget, however, believed in the formal operational stage, we as persons could think hypothetically of experiences and ideas.
While his theory is the one I most agree with at this time, there is part of Margaret Donaldson's I think also plays a part in how we learn. That is the social aspect of the child's development. Interaction while learning was key in her theory, and helped in the functioning of a child's intellect. By hearing, seeing, and learning from another, a child learns how to use things, ideas and words in their proper context. I believe we learn a lot from both curiosity and the adults and people around us.
Critiquing Piaget's theory when I appreciate and like many things about it is difficult. Jean Piaget, a pioneer in childhood cognitive development showed us being challenged increases our ability for mental growth. Stimulating conversations, actions that push us out of the comfort zones of our ideas, and being uncomfortable for a while can actually be beneficial to us. I find when my life is appearing a bit dull; there is a new experience that leaves me reeling not far behind the doldrums. My learning curve is sometimes straight up and assimilation is no longer an option. I have to adopt new ideas, new thought processes, and formulate new concepts of my world.
Vygotsky, another developmental theorist, said children learn by apprenticeship with adults. They learn by watching and repeating by what they see socially. Caretakers guide a child's learning, and promote their intellect by having them do as they do. They present challenges in order for them to learn, and also offer assistance when they falter or are unable to come to an answer. Vygotsky has some parallels with Piaget though varies his approach with a more social aspect.
Bruner, on the other hand, a constructive theorist, believed similar to Piaget in that children learned actively and based