When it comes to the mental growth and development of the child, many modern psychologists will agree that Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development provides one of the most comprehensive methods for understanding the various phases of child development. Constructed through the process of observing his own child develop, Piaget wrote his landmark theories with the help of Barbel Inhelder in The Psychology of the Child. Although the text has been translated from the French, the work has managed to survive several reprints, translations and critical analyses to become one of the most well read psychological texts in the field.
What is perhaps most unique about Piaget’s work is that it finely details each step of the child’s development. Beginning at birth, or the sensori-motor level, and lasting until the child finishes adolescence, Piaget’s observations are as finely tuned as the development of the child itself. To illustrate this point, one only needs to consider the sensori-motor phase. Although this phase take place between the ages of birth and two, Piaget has gone on to refine it even further by breaking it into six distinct stages. This is characteristic of Piaget’s work. In essence, Piaget found the development of the child to be such a complex undertaking that even the categories that he devised needed to be further refine when putting all of the information into context.
In addition to the fact that Piaget’s work is well refined and explicated, the painstaking methods utilized by the author to ensure that the layman could understand the basic premise of his work are also extraordinary. While it is clear that the author relies on published literature to make a number of his points, his examples are well illustrated, such that almost any parent could read his text and exclaim, “I know exactly what he means.” This point is well illustrated in Piaget’s discussion of object permanence.