Stages of Child Development for Teachers

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    Sensorimotor Stage

    Preoperational Stage

    • The Preoperational stage is typically from 2 to 7 years old. During these years, children acquire most of their language skills. Their understanding of the world broadens and they begin to solidify their understanding of animate versus inanimate objects, and "real and pretend." They have difficulty with abstract concepts and have little adult-like empathy. Teaching language and vocabulary is very important at this age. Children are acquiring a sense of "conservation of matter"-- learning that even though a substance's form changes, it is still the same substance. Children at this age love the riddle, "What weighs more, a pound of iron or a pound of feathers," because they have a hard time understanding that a pound is a pound, no matter what the substance constituting the pound is.

    Concrete Operational Stage

    • From the ages of 7 to 12, children are typically in the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. They are becoming more deductive and are better able to apply objectivity and logic. They still tend, however, to think in terms of concrete objects and cannot consistently grasp the abstract. Number lines and grids can be used here to help make the numbers more concrete.

    Formal Operational Stage

    • Teenagers are in the stage of cognitive development known as formal operations. It is important for the educator to keep in mind that teenagers are just beginning to develop abstract thinking skills and, as such may be unrealistically idealistic. They also tend to be horribly self-centered -- tending to think the world revolves around them. This is known as the "Imaginary Audience." Problems of logic and abstraction will help build skills for teens in formal operations.

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