Cognitive Stages of Child Development and Learning


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As a child grows to be a teenager from being an infant, there are different stages of what we may refer to as 'a child's learning abilities' or the 'cognitive stages of child development'. It is important to have a fair understanding of these stages to better understand a child and to adjust the right learning program for the child. It is good to make a child learn the most it can in accordance with its learning capabilities, but it is equally necessary not to over pressurize it in doing so. Hence, a clear understanding about these stages will help you better understand children.

This understanding can aid a teacher, a parent, a mentor, a guardian, or whosoever is responsible for a child's learning and development. There are four widely recognized cognitive stages of child development. These are described below:

Sensorimotor stage: This stage spreads from birth through ages 3 years. Most of the child's learning at this stage is through its senses. Also, children take their first steps all by themselves during this stage. This results in children actively exploring new things. They also learn to say 'no' at this stage while most of the time they try to please their dear ones. Therefore, they need to be praised because what they do is the best they can do to praise their dear ones.

Preoperational stage: This stage spreads from ages 3 through 7. Time, memory, imagination, symbols, and mistakes, these are the five most important keywords relevant with this stage of a child's development. At this stage, children start creating memory, having imagination skills, understanding, recognizing, and differentiating symbols, and begin to understand the time factor i.e. start understanding the concept of past and future. At this stage, children start reading and understanding numbers. This is recognized as a critical stage for learning music.

Concrete Operational Stage: This stage spreads from ages 7 through 12. At this stage children start making choices but are dependent on elders' guidance a lot. This does not mean we spoon-feed them with good and bad possible consequences. In fact, we should sometimes let them experience natural consequences to the choices that they make for themselves. This will greatly enhance their learning. A good time to instil moral values in your child, at this stage children begin to understand other people's feelings too, apart from their own hence acknowledging the world other than them much better.

Formal Operational Stage: This stage spreads from ages 12 through 18. The most important keywords which can be associated with this stage of learning are logic, planning, social skills, and peer pressure. At this stage, children learn to apply logic, and learn to plan. Although, they develop social skills at this stage, they are also vulnerable to a lot of peer pressure at the same time. Hence, it is observed that children cope drastically better with a positive environment at home which includes fun activities with family, appreciation and encouragement, and open conversations at home.

Every stage of a child's mental growth is equally important and deserves proper attention from the parents and teachers as well.