Our Influencers

The minds, practices and philosophies behind Little Thinker's Center

Jean Piaget

(August 9, 1896 – September 16, 1980)

Jean Piaget, known for his pioneering work in child development, was the first to establish a blueprint that defined the stages of intellectual development from infancy to adulthood. His theory of cognitive development describes how children’s thinking and approach to understanding their environment progress from one stage to the next, and how best to foster their intellectual maturation through these stages. From countless hours of observation, he established four developmental stages that detail the growing complexity of children’s thinking and cognitive development.

Birth – Age 2 Years

The child makes sense of the environment through movement and sensory experiences. Innate reflexes are dropped as the child’s sensory awareness increases. Exploring with objects and trial-and-error experimenting is the main focus during the second half of this stage. By the end of this period, a child will understand causality of time, space and relationships, imitate complex behaviors, and engage in imaginative play, and master object permanence (knowing that an object exists even when hidden from view).

Age 2 – 7 Years

Children in this stage are egocentric and have difficulty perceiving others’ viewpoints. They believe what they see, hear, feel is what others experience as well. Intuitive problem-solving, symbolic play and manipulation (cutting rectangular pieces of paper to represent money), and language development are key motivations. Thinking is characterized by irreversibility and centration (ice is ice and not water). By the end of this period, a child will begin to grasp classifications and relationships, and conservation (quantity stays the same even when placed in different sized containers).

Age 7 – 11 Years

Children in this stage are no longer egocentric, and are aware that others have points of view that are different from their own. The concept of conservation is mastered, and thinking is characterized by reversibility and decentration (water can be iced or boiled). Thinking becomes concrete and logical, which allows a child the ability to order and organize objects into sequences and hierarchical classes. Grasping abstract ideas remain a challenge.

Age 11 – Adolescence & Adulthood

The main characteristic of this stage is the development of abstract thinking and hypothetical testing. Children become able to think with flexibility, and can consider possible alternatives in complex reasoning. Developing efficient, logical problem-solving skills become the goal.

Harry Wachs

(May 24 1924 – July 26 2016)

Dr. Harry Wachs, an optometrist who established visuo-cognitive therapy to treat children with developmental disorders, was an innovative visionary. From noticing that children with visual problems often struggled in school, he immersed himself in the field of vision therapy and developmental psychology, and traveled to Geneva in 1962 to meet and learn from Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget. He developed ‘thinking games’ to stimulate children’s intellectual growth according to Piaget’s blueprint of cognitive development and described this approach with Catholic University Psychologist, Hans G. Furth, in their book, “Thinking Goes to School” (1974). Together they started a school for thinking in the early 1970s for primary school-aged children in West Virginia.

Dr. Wachs dispelled his methods to therapists worldwide. He taught at Catholic University and later at George Washington University where he established the Vision and Conceptual Development Center in the early 1980s – a program to help children with reading and learning disorders, and developmental disabilities. In the 1990s, his work expanded to children on the autism spectrum, which resulted in the publication of a second book,Visual/Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling and Movement” co-authored with clinical psychologist, Serena Wieder who is the cofounder of DIR Floortime. His work attracted many people to his center in Washington, DC from all parts of the world, including Joe Gibbs who offered him a position with the Redskins during their Super Bowl years. 

These thinking games are the basis for our cognitive developmental program at Little Thinkers Center to enhance cognitive growth, academic achievement, and social skills.

Dr. Jenny Yip

The Little Thinkers Center was founded by Dr. Jenny C. Yip who is a clinical psychologist, author, speaker, and a nationally recognized OCD and anxiety expert.

Dr. Yip is Board Certified in Behavioral & Cognitive Psychology, and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Southern California (USC) – Keck School of Medicine, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Program. She is an Institutional Member of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), a Clinical Member of the Association for Behavioral & Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), a Clinical Fellow of the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) where she also serves on the Public Education Committee, and on the Board of Directors for OCD SoCal – IOCDF Affiliate.

In the early years of her career, Dr. Yip had the honor to work with and be personally trained by Dr. Harry Wachs in Washington, DC. Using Piaget’s theories and the cognitive developmental thinking games developed by Dr. Wachs, she observed remarkable results with patients struggling with various developmental challenges. After moving to Los Angeles in the early 2000s, Dr. Wachs appointed Dr. Yip to train and supervise therapists at the Mind Development Center near Sacramento on his methods. As she pursued her passion working with the pediatric population, she realized that many children with developmental or learning challenges also suffered from debilitating anxiety. Dr. Yip later founded the Renewed Freedom Center for Rapid Anxiety Relief in Los Angeles and dedicated the last two decades treating children with severe anxiety disorders. However, many of these children also needed supportive, developmental therapies. With the lack of such quality treatment on the West Coast, she initiated the LTC project in 2016.