Piaget’s theory had a great influence on the way of thinking about education, acting as a counterpoint to the methods of the 19th century. Although Piaget had no specific interest in education, his ideas had a lot of repercussion in the educational and pedagogical field.

Do you know Piaget’s psychogenetic theory? Let’s get to know it a little more together?

Jean Piaget’s 4 stages of cognitive development.

By Mônica Etes – São Paulo, Brazil


Jean William Fritz Piaget (1896-1980), a great theorist of educational psychology, biologist, worked his whole life observing the process of knowledge acquisition of the human being, especially the child. Before society considered the child a miniature adult, and with Piaget’s experiences, it became clear that the child’s brain is quite different from the adult, thus being able to correct a series of misconceptions in the area of education. 

To work on Spiritist education, it is worth reading up on the 4 stages of child development.

Jean Piaget’s 4 stages of cognitive development


1. Sensorimotor stage

The sensorimotor stage – from birth to two years old. Its fundamental characteristic is the way the baby interacts with the world, presenting an eagerness for exploration that is fundamental for its cognitive development.

Need to understand the world through the senses, so behavior is governed by egocentrism (natural for this age group). Altruism and self-denial will appear in later stages.


2. Preoperational stage or symbolic thought

The preoperational stage – between two and seven years old. They are more able to interact. A period in which playfulness is key. This is the case with children’s games, where they can cook and fight with toys that represent pots or swords.

They are still egocentric, but it is from this stage that manifestations of putting themselves in the place of the other appear.  Selfish attitudes do not mean that it will always be like this, it is a typical behavior of this phase, but it is important to stimulate altruism from an early age, without being scandalized by childish behavior because there are important parts of the brain that are in formation.

In the preoperational stage, the ability to associate ideas is clear, but also with simplicity.


3. Concrete operations stage

The stage of concrete operations – seven to twelve years old. Already exhibits many of the mental capacities of an adult person, such as attention control. The use of logic gains strength. May be less self-centered.


4. Formal operations stage

The operations stage – twelve years to late adulthood. The person is already able to draw on their full capacity for abstraction and the use of logic to solve problems.

Although some people remain egocentric, this is no longer a defining characteristic of this stage. 



The acquisition of knowledge occurs gradually (in phases) and through the interaction of the human being with the environment.

To work with pre-teens and teenagers, it is necessary to know that the environment needs to offer challenges. According to Piaget, after assimilating the information, the answer not found, generates an imbalance, a nuisance, fundamental to stimulate them to find the answer. If there is no such process, they may become discouraged. There may also be a negative reaction when they do not know the answer, a reaction of denial to the topic at hand. To get around this, the educator can go back to the more rudimentary information, building up slowly, so that the learner feels more secure in trying to answer the challenge.

The balancing process for each new piece of knowledge continues throughout life. 

“The teacher does not teach, but finds ways for the child to discover.” 

 Jean Piaget



Accessed on 25/5/2023.

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