Child development : stages and how child learn

Dr. Nahida M.Mulla
Principal, A.M.Shaikh Homoeopathic Medical College &  Hospital Belgaum

What to expect and what your responsibilities will be.

Did you know that our children are in the business of learning? They attempt to store all the things that happen to them into some type of logical form.

What is learning?
Learning is to gain knowledge, understanding, or skill.(This is in accordance with the great Webster.) An even broader definition of learning is “any permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of a practice or an experience.” This makes what we teach our children even more important as it has the potential to have a lasting effect in their behavior.

How do children think?
Children are a bundle of ideas and thoughts. If you ever really look at your child you will see that these thought patterns are much different from that of an adult and can certainly be expressed in much different ways.

There are four different stages of learning or development that each child goes through.

1. Sensorimotor
This is form the ages of birth to about two years old. During this time the child’s primary mode of learning occurs through the five senses. S/he learns to experience environment. The child touches things, holds, looks, listens, tastes, feels, bangs, and shakes everything in sight. For this child the sense of time is now and the sense of space is here. When the child adds motor skills such as creeping, crawling, and walking–watch out–his/her environment expands by leaps and bounds. The child is now exploring their environment with both senses and the ability to get around.

This just doubled your job as a parent because now you need to start dealing with such things as protection and guidance. This mode of learning actually continues through the age of twelve, but becomes less acute as the years go by.

2. Preoperational
This is the stages between ages two and seven. During this stage the child is busy gathering information or learning, and then trying to figure out ways that they can used what they have learned to begin solving problems.

During this stage of his/her life your child will be thinking in specifics and will find it very difficult to generalize anything. An example would be a ball: A ball is not something that you use to play a game, it is just something that you throw.

This is the time when a child learns by asking questions. You will begin to think that if you hear the word why just one more time that you will go crazy. The child generally will not want a real answer to his question at this point. When he asks why do we have grass—He simply wants to know that it is for him to play in. No technical answers for know.

The child in this age group judges everything the me basis How does it affect>me? Do I like it? You get the idea! This child also has no ability to go back in time and reason. If you miss your opportunity to explain or punish when it happens–forget it for they have.

3. Concrete operations period
This is the period of time
when your child is between the ages of seven to ten or eleven. This is a wonderful age as this is when children begin to manipulate data mentally. They take the information at hand and begin to define, compare, and contrast it. They, however, still think concretely.

If you were to ask a pre-operations child, “How does God hear prayer?” They would most likely answer that He has big ears. The concrete child would put a little more thought into it and answer something like this: “God is smart and he made some special earphones just so He could hear me.”

The concrete operational child is capable of logical thought. This child still learns through their senses, but no longer relies on only them to teach him. He now thinks as well. A good teacher for this age group would start each lesson at a concrete level and then move toward a generalized level.

An example of this would be:

  • Statement: Joey is kind:
  • The teacher would start out by telling about what Joey did to be kind.(Concrete)
  • Then she would talk about how Joey went about being kind.(Less concrete/More general)
  • From there she would teach that Joey is kind.(General concept)

A seven to ten year old is very literal in their thinking. That means that he will take everything that you say, do, and teach at face value–What they actually and literally mean. BLACK is black and WHITE is white. These children have a difficult time with symbols and figurative language.

4. Formal operations period
This period begins at about age eleven.

At this time the child will break through the barrier of literalism and move on to thinking in more abstract terms. He no longer restricts thinking to time and space. This child now starts to reflect, hypothesize, and theorize. He actually thinks about thinking.

In the formal operation period, children need to develop cognitive abilities.

The following is a list of six simple categories of cognitive abilities:

  1. Knowledge of facts and principals–this is the direct recall of facts and principals. Examples: memorization of dates, names, definition, vocabulary words.
  2. Comprehension–understanding of facts and ideas.
  3. Application–needs to know, rules, principles, and procedures and how to use them
  4. Analysis–breaking down concepts into parts.
  5. Synthesis–putting together information or ideas.
  6. Evaluation–judging the value of information.

Key factors in learning

  • A child rarely learns in isolation.
  • Learning most generally takes place in a setting of children within the same age group.
  • Some factors that affect learning are motivation, peer relationships within the group, and communication between the child and the teacher.
  • Other factors are environment, physical setting, emotional atmosphere, and social and cultural norms.

As we can see from this article, the older your children get the more capable of learning and storing information.

The older our children get the more responsible we become in helping them to fine-tune there newfound capabilities

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