According to Piaget, children go through four key process or changes which spans into adulthood and greatly shapes their cognitive thoughts and thus helps in personality development. Children actively explore the world and environment around them. Therefore, they are little scientists on a voyage of observation and assimilation.
The Sensorimotor stage (from infancy to 2 years): The environment is explored and knowledge is gained by infants through their sensory experiences and manipulation of objects around them.
The Preoperational stage ( from 2 years to 7 years): At this stage, children learn through ‘free play’. They are aware of the rules of the game but struggle with logical explanations for changing rules and being open to the idea that others can have a different point of view or different opinions
The Concrete Operational stage (from 7 years to 11 years): At this stage, continuing from the previous stage, children find it difficult to change the rules and methodologies. But at the same time, they begin to understand that there are different logical explanations to same experience. The understanding of the abstract and hypothetical starts.
The Formal Operational stage (from adolescence to adulthood): Logic is assimilated and given as an explanation to events and experiences. Children begin to understand the hypothetical and gain the abilities to understand deductive reasonings understanding of abstracts ideas.
Children also acquire important adaptive and cognitive concepts such as schemas, assimilation, accommodation.
Schemas refer to categories that children form of knowledge and information that help them interpret the environment, objects, people and events. It includes both category of knowledge and process of acquisition of knowledge.
Assimilation is a process taking or adding new information to the set schemas. It is subjective in nature because children modify the information or experience to fit in the already existing schemas.
Accommodation is the process in which children modify or alter the existing schemas because they have received some new/very different information which does not fit any existing schemas.
Equilibration –all children aim to acquire a balance between the process of assimilation and accommodation.
Equilibration is an important concept since children want to strike a balance between using existing knowledge, acquiring new knowledge and forming new schemas. It is the state of equilibration that helps them move from one stage to another.
All children go through these stages naturally. But when given the right training and exposure to right concepts, the schemas they form are more facilitative and broader in quality. This helps enhance their problem solving skills, becoming more creative as well as attaining a higher understanding of logic.
Parents play an important role in this process. A facilitative environment by parents is a must in appropriate acquisition of these stages.