Preparing For The Stages Of Early Childhood Development

Updated May 17, 2019

Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault

Childhood should be a journey, not a race. This has been the mantra of early childhood educators for years. It seems that now as expectations and state standards change, the bar has been raised. There are specific developmental stages that all children go through and they should not be rushed or skipped. There are ways to prepare children, so that have success in their early childhood educational years.

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Early Childhood Developmental Stages

Piaget was a famous theorist who described and named the stages of cognitive development. His age ranges and descriptors are listed below.

Sensorimotor stage is birth through 18-24 months. Newborn infants are only conscious of things directly in front of them. Between 7 and nine months, they begin to comprehend that things subsist even when they can't be seen. This is called object permanence. By the end of this stage, early language skills begin.

Preoperational stage is described as 18-24 months through age 7. During these years, young children can think about things representatively. Language skills become more established. Memory and using imagination also develops.

Concrete Operational stage is ages 7-12. Children begin to use logic and concrete ways of thinking. They are more aware of events that occur around them instead of concentrating on themselves only. Abstract and hypothetical thinking is not yet developed.

The formal Operational stage is adolescence through adult. This is the stage where all types of thinking and reasoning can be understood and utilized.

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Preparing for Pre-School Success

Pre-school will teach many skills to young children, but some skills need to be introduced, taught and practiced at home. The following skills are important for success in preschool:

*Sitting in one spot for an extended period, i.e., listening to an entire story without getting up

*Following multi-step directions - give your child 2 or 3 directions and see if they can follow them. For instance; go to your room, get your socks, put on your socks.

*Knowing the alphabet song

*Manners, i.e., saying please, thank you, excuse me. It is very important that young children learn not to interrupt and to wait their turn in a conversation. At home, the adult may be able to drop everything to listen to the child, but when they are in a classroom of 10+ children, they will need to wait patiently for their turn.

*Bathroom skills, i.e., turning on the sink, wiping themselves, flushing a toilet, washing hands

*Putting a jacket on independently - placing the jacket upside down in front of them and having them slip their arms in and flip it over their heads is the best technique for young children.

*Taking turns - You can practice this by playing games, choosing snacks, having conversations

*Sharing - Have your children play with a toy for a while and then have them give it to another child to play with.

*Patience - Children will have to wait their turn in a classroom with numerous children. Practicing this skill and explaining that sometimes they may have to wait quietly can be a huge help to teachers.

All these skills are practiced in pre-school, but parents should not depend solely on teachers to teach and practice these skills. They need to have repeated exposures to all these areas to internalize the appropriate skills. If there is any difficulty with practicing any of these skills at home, approach your child's teacher to get suggestions and support. It takes a village to raise a child.

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Preparing for Kindergarten Success

All skills needed for pre-school will also be needed for kindergarten. Many times kindergarten classes are considerably larger than preschool classes, so the above skills are even more important. Again, practicing skills at home will help your child have success in school. School holds an important place in the lives of young children, and it teaches children many skills, but these skills need to be reinforced and practiced at home for children to have added success.

*Cutting - Practice cutting coupons and straws at home. This strengthens young children's hands so that they can use writing implements. It is also easier for children to have success with cutting activities when they have had previous experience with scissors. There are great scissors that can be purchased specifically for young children.

*Recognizing their names - Write your child's name on a strip of paper or labels and show them what their name looks like.

*Writing their name - Be sure to teach them to write their name with an upper case letter followed by lower case letters. That is the way that they are going to have to write it in school to teach them the proper formation. All upper case letters aren't acceptable in kindergarten.

*Use kind words/no potty language

*Keep your hands to yourself

*Use a quiet, inside voice..save loud voices for outside

*Teach them how to open snack bags, yogurts, juice boxes, Ziploc bags, etc. When only one teacher is available to help 20+ children, they are going to have to learn to be independent in many areas. This is just one area that children should have independence in, and it is great fine motor practice.

*Zippering, buttoning, snapping, velcroing - teach them how to manipulate all of these fasteners.

*Tying shoes - This is a higher-level skill, but there are great online videos that teach how to tie shoes. This is such a HUGE help to teachers. If children cannot tie shoes, purchasing Velcro or slip on shoes is the best choice.


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