Infancy and Early Childhood Paper

Essay by rickmartinA+, September 2009

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I believe "Piaget's theory of cognitive development" best explains the cognitive development both in infancy and early childhood. His theory is explained by a theory of cognitive organization called schemes. Schemes are the "actions or mental representations that organize knowledge" (Santrock, 2008, p. 94). According to his theory, schemes change with age; in other words, they are action-based (motor patterns) at first and then gradually change to a mental (thinking) level. There are several key terms that explain Piaget's process of developmental change; those include adaptation, assimilation, accommodation, organization, and equilibration.

Sensorimotor stage is the first of the Piaget's theory of cognitive development. It lasts from birth to the about 2 years of age, where awareness of the world is limited to what can be known through sensory awareness and motor acts. Furthermore, Piaget divided the sensorimotor stage into six sub-stages: 1) simple reflexes; (2) first habits and primary circular reactions; (3) secondary circular reactions; (4) coordination of secondary circular reactions; (5) tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity; and (6) internalization of schemes (Santrock, 2008, p.


•Reflexive Schemes: this is present in newborns. Initially, the infant's actions are coordinated through reflexive behaviors, such as rooting and sucking. But gradually the infant produces behaviors that resemble reflexes in the absence of the usual stimulus for the reflex (Santrock, 2008).

•Primary circular reactions: it develops between 1 and 4 months of age. In this stage, infants begin to adapt their reflexes to their environment; simple motor habits are centered around own body (Caulfield, 2001)•Secondary circular reactions: it develops between 4 and 8 months of age. The focus of infants' exploration shits to external events. Infants develop awareness that objects continue to exist even when not in sight at about 8 months of age (Caulfield, 2001)•Coordination of secondary circular reactions: develops between...