The theorist, Jean Piaget, was most interested in the development of children’s intellectual organization. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development begins with the sensorimotor stage. Sensorimotor intelligence is thinking by observing objects and acting in response to them. Throughout the stages the child understands that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen which is referred to as object permanence. When a child exhibits a behavior that creates an experience that leads to repetition of the behavior this is known as a circular reaction. (Berk, 2010)
The sensorimotor stage is focused from birth to two years. It is divided into six substages as the infant learns to coordinate their senses and motor skills. The content below lists the six substages.
1) Simple Reflexes (0-1 month)
2) First habits and primary circular reactions (1 to 4 months)
3) Secondary circular reactions (4 to 8 months)
4) Coordination of secondary circular reactions (8-12 months)
5) Tertiary circular reactions (12-18 months)
6) Internalization of schemes/beginnings of representational thought (18-24 months)
Source: Sensorimotor Period. (Lee, 2010)
The first substage includes inborn reflexes such as the root, suck, moro, tonic neck, grasp, Babinski, and step reflexes. During the first month of life it is very evident that the newborn has been born with these important reflexes. A newborn can be placed upon the mothers’ breast and they will root to find food and suck to feed without any assistance. The newborn understands the environment purely through these inborn reflexes. (Santrock, 2008) These reflexes not only help the infant to develop some of them can also be used for survival. At this age the child already has the step reflex which will help learning to walk as they get older.
The second substage involves only the infants’ own body. The infant will by accident engage in some form of behavior and if the child finds it enjoyable the child will repeat it. An example is an infant sucking their thumb. It may not have been intentional the first time, but they may repeat the action because it comforted them. At this stage the child learns how to help console themselves. These types of reactions are called primary circular reactions. This stage is about coordinating feelings and new patterns.
The third substage is similar to the second, but it focuses on the external objects not the infant’s own body. Once the primary circular reactions become boring the infant advances to the secondary where they explore with objects. The child is more focused on the world and begins to intentionally repeat an action in order to trigger a response in their environment. (Piaget, Gruber, & Voneche, 1977) The child may shake a rattle, hit a mobile, or drop or throw objects repeatedly. Depending on what they feel about the outcome of their actions the action may or may not be repeated. When a child shakes a rattle and it makes noise that scares them they learn to...