Understanding the 5 Stages of Development

Sep 5, 2018 by

Diverse multiracial group of kids laying together joining heads.

Knowing your audience is half the battle when it comes to effective teaching. Certain students learn best using hands on experimentation and physical activity, where other learners absorb textual information best. In order to capitalize on a student’s strengths, you must know them first. This process starts as young as infancy, when a child begins to explore their surroundings and develops the necessary skills to learn and grow. This is the basis of their educational experience and is defined as the 5 stages of development.

1. Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is a child’s ability to solve problems and process information. This can start as early as a few months old when a baby begins to explore their immediate surroundings. They use their hands, mouth, feet, and even eyes to scan faces, items, and their environment. They slowly process what’s going on around them, which is the start of cognitive development. As children grow and develop, their cognitive functions and understanding deepen. Toddlers will walk and explore different scenes. Older children develop their vocabulary, pre-reading skills, mathematics, and control over their attention and memory. All of these skills are categorized under cognitive development.

2. Social and Emotional Development

A young learner’s development isn’t all about problem solving, reading, and mathematics. A well-rounded child must also develop socially and emotionally. The basis for social and emotional development is a child’s ability to interact with others. It also includes elements of self-control and the ability to help themselves and regulate their feelings. Infants show social and emotional development in many ways, from bonding with a specific caregiver, smiling at familiar faces, and soothing themselves using a pacifier or favorite toy. As children grow older and become mobile, they begin interacting with other children. This is where sharing, compromise, empathy, and communication come into play. Children begin to slowly understand that there is a world outside of themselves. They become less egocentric and more aware of their own emotions and those of others. These are incredibly important life skills that start developing at a very young age.

3. Speech and Language Development

Speech and language development go hand in hand with social and emotional development. Once a child understands their own emotions and the emotions of others, they want to interact, which requires speech and language. Once a child can both understand and use language, they can communicate with others. During infancy, babies start to recognize voices and respond accordingly. This includes turning in the direction of a familiar voice and watching someone as they speak. Comprehension comes later and involves a child’s understanding of what’s being said. Soon, infants begin making noises, babbles, and begins stringing sounds together. Eventually, they are forming words, singing familiar songs, and mimicking adults and other children. Speech and language are truly the groundwork for learning.

4. Fine Motor Development

It’s just as important for children to use and develop physically as it is mentally. Fine motor skills involve a child’s ability to use their small muscle groups, specifically, their hands and fingers. Infants begin exploring touch early on. Once a baby can grasp an object, they’re already developing their fine motor skills. Using utensils to eat, turning the pages of a book or using writing implements all require fine motor skills and development.

5. Gross Motor Skill Development

While fine motor skill development address a child’s small muscle groups, gross motor covers the larger muscles groups. These come into play after a child is able to crawl and walk but begins even earlier when children start to sit up unsupported or pull themselves up to a standing position. This requires the use of their legs, arms, and entire bodies, all encompassing gross motor activity. As a child learns to control their muscles and movements, they learn skills like hopping, jumping, skipping, and running. Any physical activity that requires movement and the use of the major muscles groups is considered gross motor development. And physical activity is an important step in keeping children healthy.

It’s important to understand that all children develop and grow at different paces. There are loose guidelines set forth for when a child should hit a certain milestone. If at any point you’re concerned that a student isn’t developing at a healthy pace, early intervention is always an option.

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1 Comment

  1. alex

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