Concrete Operational Stage

The concrete operational stage is the third developmental stage in Jean Piaget’s theory on human development. The stage occurs between 7 and 11 years old. Children during this stage begin to think in a way that is more adult than in previous stages. A child in the concrete operational stage begins to understand that the world does not revolve around him and logical thinking becomes possible.

  1. Logical Thought.  One of the more important cognitive developments is the ability to think through a problem logically. Between the ages of 7 and 11, children begin to master this ability. A child in this age group can apply logical thought to a concrete problem.
  2. Conservation. Conservation is the child’s ability to understand the physical characteristics of an item do not change with changes to the shape or physical appearance. For example, a quantity of liquid is the same whether it is in a short and wide jar or a tall and thin jar.
  3. Reversibility. Children in this stage of development can think through steps in a process forward and backward. For example, in addition, the child can understand that 2 + 3 = 5 and 5 – 3 = 2 by reversing steps.
  4. Transitive Inference. The transitive inference ability in this stage of cognitive development allows the child to use deductive reasoning to solve a problem. This capability allows children to solve syllogisms such as if Mary is shorter than Tina and Tina is shorter than Sharon, then Mary must be shorter than Sharon.
  5. Classifications. Children are now capable of using classes and subclasses to put objects into groups.
  6. Limitations. While children make great strides in the concrete operational stage, there are still limitations in their cognitive development. Children in this age group are not able to perform abstract reasoning. Children also must have a physical object to manipulate to use logical thought.
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