Many psychologists are perplexed when it comes to addressing when children understand certain concepts. For instance, they may ask questions regarding when a child has the ability to understand that objects still exist even when you cannot see them. Or at what age can a child distinguish that people have desires and dreams, but objects do not. Developmental psychologists, such as Jean Piaget, investigate not only what children think but how they think. Piaget developed four periods to distinguish different cognitive developments amongst children.
In his early career, Piaget administered IQ tests to French-speaking children in Switzerland, and was fascinated by their incorrect answers. Through these tests he concluded that children and adults use qualitatively different thought processes. Piaget accomplished this through extensive longitudinal studies of children, primarily and especially with his own children. (Malerstein 1)
Piaget believed that a child’s intellectual development is not solely on the fact of experience or maturational unfolding. Instead, he theorized that new mental processes are constructed when boys or girls interact with the environment. He based his terminology on schemas which are, “organized ways of interacting with objects in the world.” An example of this would be an infant having a grasping schema or a sucking schema. As the infant gradually age’s new schemas are added and they adapt their old ones through the processes of accommodation and assimilation. (Flavell 9)
When a child observes that animals move on their own they may believe that the moon and sun are alive because they appear to move on their own as well. This is because of assimilation, in other words they apply old schema to new objects or problems. (Flavell 10) Typically paired with this process is accommodation, when old schemas are modified to fit a new object of problem. (Flavell 9) For instance, a child may learn that there are exceptions to rules such...