Friday 14 February 2014

Piaget: Learning through Play is Vital for Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget was a psychologist who believed that children go through a series of stages in order to build their cognitive understanding of the world.

During what he described as the sensorimotor phase of learning, which he thought occurred between birth and aged two, infants learn by trial and error.

His theories had a big influence on how children would come to be taught in schools. The Plowden report in 1967 was put together following a review of education in the UK which was based heavily on Piaget's theories.

Piaget believed play was vital in a child's development.

The report highlights the importance of play in helping children to build an understanding of their environment.

So-called discovery learning was central to Piaget's theory, and it dictated that children learnt most effectively by doing things and actively exploring the world around them.

Choosing toys which support learning 
Obviously as parents it's vital to support your child's learning, but no-one wants to feel like they are forcing their loved one to read and write, do sums and learn spellings by rote.  It is no doubt reassuring then to learn that Piaget believed play was central to a child's development.

Some toys are arguably more educational than others and are designed to stimulate the senses, improve co-ordination and boost sight-to-brain link up, all of which bolster a child's cognition.

Age-appropriate toys
Piaget suggested that children should not be taught particular concepts until they are at the appropriate stage of cognitive development. When you consider this in relation to toys, you can see why it is important to ensure that they are appropriate for your child's age group. After all, the last thing you want to do is put them off learning by giving them something to do which is beyond their capabilities.

Early learning
If you take Piaget's theory that children learn by trial and error from birth until they are two years old then puzzles are probably quite a good way for them to develop their cognitive reasoning.

A toy such as the Djeco Wooden Puzzle Duck is ideal for children from 12 months upwards.  It contains five animals that a child may be familiar with, or, if not, it will help them to build an understanding of different creatures.

Putting the pieces into the correct spaces will help little ones to develop their hand to eye co-ordination, improve their fine motor skills and help with shape and colour recognition.

Alternatively, you may want to consider Djeco's Shape Sorter Toy Lion. Suitable for children from 18-months-old, this is a great toy which contains six different brightly coloured wooden shapes which kids will have fun fitting through the correct holes. It also helps with hand to eye co-ordination and shape recognition.
Have fun
Piaget seemed to suggest that children learn best when they are doing something appropriate for their stage of learning, and when they are relaxed. So, the message seems to be clear: have fun playing with your kids safe in the knowledge that you are teaching them new things all the time.

This post was featured content in association with Crafts 4 Kids who stock the great brand Djeco: currently offering an extra 10% off, on orders over fifty pounds, which includes free delivery.  Click here for the voucher code.

It's actually quite timely publishing this content, as I was on a Parenting course this morning (topic Disobedience), and the lady leading the course explained that what causes children's naughty behaviour is that they have an inner drive to play - it's how they learn, how they discover their "world".  So they play at every opportunity, and it is our perception of it that determines whether it is safe, naughty or appropriate.  We class jumping on the sofa or bed as dangerous.  To them it is play; it is fun!


  1. I used Piaget as an example of the cognitivist/constructionivist learning theory being highly relevant to planning to meet the needs of learners. I can send you the longhand notes if you like?

  2. I absolutely know so much on this subject, as I have had to use Piaget as part of my masters, my Forest Schools training and in my every day teaching. I really believe in what he taught on so many levels, but most particularly his theories of play. Woohoo - go you for being so enlightened on the importance of play! Aaron will be much better off for it, bless him!

  3. If you take Piaget's theory that children learn by trial and error from birth until they are two years old then puzzles are probably quite a good way for them to develop their cognitive reasoning. best anti snore mouthpiece


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