Cognitive development: six to twelve

It is probably not a coincidence that formal schooling starts between ages five and seven in many parts of the world. At this age, cognitive, language and perceptual-motor skills have developed to such an extent that learning becomes easier and more efficient.

The biologist and psychologist Jean Piaget, who developed the most wellknown theory of cognitive development, called middle childhood the stage of concrete operational thought.

At this age, thought becomes less intuitive and egocentric. They begin to realise that other people also have thoughts and feelings. Thinking becomes more logical and flexible and is no longer limited to the here and now.

Mathematical ability develops as they become able to count, add and subtract in their minds without the help of visual objects.

They can evaluate cause-and-effect relationships and can categorise objects according to colour, size, quantity and class.

These children begin to theorise about people and concrete objects. However, they are still unable to theorise about abstract concepts and relationships.

Memory develops considerably and during this stage children start to memorise material and later apply memory techniques such as categorising material to aid recall.

Language skills continue to develop and mature and children in this age group master complex grammatical structures, such as the passive voice.

(Ilse Pauw, Health24)

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