Ages and Stages Research
Early childhood learning organizations, such as Thrive to Five, and Parents As Teachers, are designed to help children get off to a good start in their development and education. While these official early learning groups center around the idea that learning starts at birth, they promote learning through every day encounters rather than through formal textbook-style teaching.
Behavior research biologist, Jean Piaget, spent many years observing children in an effort to discover when children learn specific skills. His findings resulted in detailed age groupings of developmental and cognitive stages. These findings are useful in determining whether or not a child is ready to move on toward formal learning. He discovered that, in general, children go through the following Stages:
Sensorimotor (Birth to Age 2)
From the moment the child is born, a great deal of learning is going on. This learning develops naturally. However, care givers can assist the process through providing toys and interaction. The child learns to differentiate himself from objects around him, discovers that his actions create an intentional response, and begins to understand object permanence (an object will still be there even if he cannot sense it).
Pre-Operational (Age 2 to Age 7)
The child learns how to use language, recognizes that objects have words, and groups objects based on an individual feature. She will have difficulty understanding the views of others, as her thinking is still centered around herself.
Concrete-Operational (Age 7 to Age 11)
Before this stage, intense formal learning may prove to be difficult. It is during this phase that a child begins to think logically about the things that he encounters. He begins to understand numbers as more than just counting and can order and classify objects by several characteristics.
Formal Operational (Age 11 and older)
By 11 years of age, most children begin to think logically about abstract concepts. They also begin to be concerned with the future, ideological problems, and hypothetical ideas.