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Children are Little Scientists

Children are little scientists. That’s how Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist and father of child development research described them. Piaget was one of the first to study how children cognitively develop throughout the course of childhood.

He was particularly interested in how kids come to understand the world. After testing many children on similar tasks he observed that at specific ages children understood concepts quite differently.

He described children as scientists because he noticed they tend to acquire new information and understanding by constructing ‘experiments’. They then use the information they gather from their studies to draw conclusions and learn.

For example, does your child throw food off their highchair at dinner time? Perhaps the first time they did it you reacted strongly, they tried again and got a similar reaction. Whilst not the best lesson to learn, in this experiment of theirs they have concluded that Mum makes some funny noises when I throw food around!

Piaget went on to established the “Developmental Stage Theory”, the first theoretical framework to describe how children’s minds develop and mature as they age. He identified clear patterns of children’s thinking. Not only that, but he created some pretty interesting and unique tasks that can clearly demonstrate which stage a child is at.

No doubt you’ve noticed this in your own child, that the way they think substantially changes as they grow. I’ve noticed it with my own son, that on some days the penny seems to have dropped and something has clicked into place. It seems that now he understands something in a way he didn’t before.

Is there a time when you noticed that your child understood a new concept? What clicked and how did you notice that the penny had dropped?

Piaget had so many amazing insights into how children think. Want to learn more about these Developmental Stages? Keen to hear about the different tasks and what they tell us about how children think? Leave a comment and let me know!

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