Stages of child development- 1

The Stages Of Child Development 

Children are intrinsically individualistic. They learn and grow at their own pace. However, four prominent stages indicate brain development in children. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget proposed them, and his theory focuses on understanding not only how children acquire knowledge, but also the nature of intelligence. According to Piaget, children are curious, little scientists who actively participate in the learning process. They perform experiments, make observations, and draw conclusions. While doing so, they continually add new knowledge, build upon existing knowledge, and adapt previously held ideas to accommodate further information.

While developing his theory, Piaget discovered that intelligence is something that grows and develops through a series of stages. He concluded that children were not less intelligent than adults; they think differently. Albert Einstein believed that Piaget’s theory was so simple, only a genius could have thought of it. 

The Stages 

The four, distinct stages of child development are as follows :

1. The Sensorimotor Stage 

Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years. 2. Preoperational stage: ages 2 to 7. 3. Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11. 4. Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up. 

Ages: Birth – 2 years. 

Major Characteristics And Developmental Milestones : 

  •  The infant knows the world through their movements and sensations. 
  •  They learn about the world through necessary actions such as looking, grasping, sucking, and listening. 
  •  They develop object permanence, i.e., they learn that things continue to exist even if they can’t be seen. This improves their memory. 
  •  They realize that their actions can affect the world around them. 

During this stage of cognitive development, infants and toddlers acquire knowledge through sensory experiences and manipulating objects. This occurs through basic reflexes, senses, and motor responses. At this stage, children undergo dramatic growth during a relatively short period of time. They interact with their environment and discover how the world works. They learn how to perform physical activities such as crawling and walking while simultaneously acquiring linguistic knowledge via interactions. During the final part of this stage, representational thought emerges.

2. The Preoperational Stage 

Ages: 2-7 years. 

Major Characteristics And Developmental Milestones : 

  •  Children begin to think symbolically. 
  •  They use words and pictures to represent objects. 
  •  Children tend to be egocentric at this stage. 
  •  Their language and thinking skills improve. 
  •  They still think of things in concrete terms. 

Even though the foundations of language development have been laid during the previous child development stage, the emergence of language is one of the salient hallmarks of the preoperational stage. Here, children think of the world around them in a very concrete manner. They learn through pretend play. However, they struggle with logic and the idea of constancy. For example, a researcher might take a lump of clay, divide it into two equal pieces, and then give a child the choice between two pieces of clay to play with. One piece of clay is rolled into a compact ball while the other is smashed into a flat pancake shape. Since the flat shape looks larger, the preoperational child will likely choose that piece even though the two pieces are exactly the same size.

3. The Concrete Operational Stage 

Ages: 7-11 years. 

Major Characteristics And Developmental Milestones : 

  •  Children begin to think logically about concrete events. 
  •  They become more organized. 
  •  They understand the principle of conservation. 
  •  They use inductive logic i.e., reasoning from specific information to a general principle. 

At this stage of brain development in children, egocentrism seen in the previous phase begins to disappear as kids develop empathy and become better at assessing how other people might view a situation. Though children become proficient at using logic, they continue to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts. Children at this cognitive development stage begin to understand that their thoughts are unique to them, and not everyone else necessarily shares their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

Also Read: How to get your child more organized

4. The Formal Operational Stage 

Ages: 12 and up. 

Major Characteristics And Developmental Milestones : 

  •  At this stage, the adolescent begins to think abstractly and reason about hypothetical scenarios. 
  •  Teenagers begin to think about moral, social, philosophical, ethical, and political issues that require theoretical and abstract reasoning. 
  •  They use deductive logic i.e., reasoning from a general principle to specific information. 

At the final child development stage, one observes an increase in logic, the ability to employ deductive reasoning, and a fair understanding of abstract concepts. Children develop critical thinking skills and are capable of forming multiple potential solutions to a problem. They’re also able to plan for the future by considering hypothetical situations systematically.

Through Piaget’s theory, one can conclude that cognitive development is a qualitative process. As children grow older, they don’t only accumulate more knowledge. As they pass through these various stages, there is a fundamental change in the way they view and think about the world.

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