The first stage in Piaget’s cognitive development theory is the sensory-motor stage. He has described this stage to be a period where the child undergoes tremendous changes and growth.
During the child’s early phase of development, they utilize their abilities and skills which they were born with. They use these skills like listening, seeing, grasping, etc. to learn more about their surroundings. They gain knowledge about the world through their senses and trial and error method.
Notably, he called this stage the sensorimotor stage since the infants learn about their surroundings through their motor abilities and senses. They start to interact with their surroundings and go through cognitive development in a shorter span of time. This stage of cognitive development starts from the child’s birth and lasts till they turn 2 years old.
Substages of sensory-motor stage
Much amount of development and learning occurs till the child gets 2 years old. The sensory-motor stage is divided into 6 substages which are all characterized by the development of different skills in the child.
Stage 1: Reflexes – 0 to 1 month
In this substage, children start understanding their surroundings through their reflexes such as looking and sucking.
Stage 2: Primary circular reactions – 1 to 4 months
This substage involves the coordination of different senses. For instance, the baby may start sucking their thumb accidentally. However, they might start doing this on purpose. They repeat these actions since they would find pleasure in doing so.
Stage 3: Secondary circular reactions – 4 to 8 months
Children start becoming more focussed during this substage and repeat the actions on purpose for gaining a response from their surroundings. For instance, they might start picking up a toy for putting it in their mouth.
Stage 4: Coordination of reactions – 8 to 12 months
Here, children begin showing intentional actions in this substage. They might also combine different schemas for achieving a specific effect. They start to explore the surroundings around them and start imitating the behavior of people around them.
Thereafter, they start to understand the objects around them and identify them having a specific quality. For instance, he or she might tend to realize that if a rattle is shaken it will produce a sound.
Stage 5: Tertiary circular reactions – 12 to 18 months
In this substage, children start to experiment with the method of trial and error. For instance, he or she might try out different actions and sounds to get attention from the people that surround them.
Stage 6: Early representational thought – 18 to 24 months
In this last substage, a child begins developing different symbols for representing objects or events that surround them. They start to understand their surroundings with the help of mental operations than just actions.
To sum up, the sensory-motor stage in cognitive development is a crucial stage where the child starts to develop a basic understanding of things. They do so with the help of the senses they are born with and gradually develop a better understanding of the world.