There are several theories that claim to explain cognitive development. The first theory is called the “preoperational stage” and proposes that a child develops logical thinking skills in this stage. This theory was developed by psychologist Willard Van Orman Quine. His theory followed nativist philosophical traditions. The Neo-Piagetian theory, on the other hand, stresses the importance of information processing mechanisms, including attention control and working memory. These theories also claim that children develop their cognitive abilities in stages along the Piagetian stages.
The second theory, which is the most popular, describes the development of abstract thought. The process of thinking progresses from concrete to abstract, where the person thinks about future consequences of their decisions. This theory, however, fails to distinguish between cognitive development and cognitive competence, which refers to the ability to use the skills of abstract thought in practical situations. Despite its popularity, it has been controversial. Its limitations are both its underlying assumptions and its methodological limitations.
A better metaphor for this concept is a web of individual development. The web includes concurrent movement along several strands of development. Children develop many skills, and the process of learning them varies throughout the lifespan. As these skills are acquired, they are organized in different levels, and influence each other. In addition to this, the web of individual development also encompasses the interaction between these levels. As more studies are being conducted, more understanding is being gained in this field.