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4 stages of the learning process in early childhood education

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  • 8 min read

Childhood is that bright time where anything seems possible. Indeed, it is possible to learn about many things and the learning process in early childhood education is a fantastic world of discovery.

Children discover about themselves little by little, feeling their mother’s touch on their skin, or just leaning their head on her shoulder. They observe every aspect of their developing body, hence the first lessons at school involve recognizing body parts through music, painting, and games.

At this stage, they discover the society around them and establish relationships with their colleagues, and thus learn from an early age to develop affinities even if unconsciously. Within this scenario, children create bonds beyond family and close friends.

At this stage, they want to arrive at school, hug their teachers, and express all the affection or emotions they are experiencing. This is not a rule, as some children take time to develop skills such as the control and spontaneous expression of emotions, within the learning process. 

However, from the first moments of life, children begin their development process, including general learning. So, with every discovery and every laugh of the children, and even with the cry, they learn and develop along with the world around them.

But how does the learning process work?

The learning process is directly linked to changes, whether in early childhood education or at any stage of our life. 

Changes lead to development, which is the act of discovering to transform based on growth and new experiences in the process. Thus, changes can be physical, cognitive, and psychosocial. 

The children transformation is always constant and happens quickly. 

So, we can see that the learning process is something broad and is related to all of us at all stages of our life.

Thus, the children’s learning process at school leaves the physical development phase, which is counted from zero to 2 years, until then determined by motor discoveries and moves towards cognitive awakening, which encompasses a focus on individual experiences. 

We are going to see the steps of this process below!

The learning process and the 4 stages of development

Indeed, we are constantly learning. According to Jean Piaget’s constructivist theory, the stages of development cannot be circumvented in the learning process. 

For this, we will understand each of the 4 phases described in his theory, understanding how all this begins in children’s lives.

This leads us to the following question: How do children learn? 

According to Piaget, children learn through social interactions and everything around them contributes to this process.

His theory points out that the process of child learning development and all the knowledge the child acquires is accumulating and making the child’s world wider. 

The meaning the child gives to events changes as things begin to have different meanings for them.  

We must remember that in the learning process phases, children develop skills that will be continued or consolidated in the following phases. Thus, the process must be followed consciously by all those who are part of children’s lives.

  1. Physical development

This phase can be called sensorimotor and occurs from 0 to 2 years of the child’s life.

Here, they realize that their movements generate actions and can be as varied as possible. So, the child begins to discover the countless possibilities that the world offers.

We are talking about the period in the baby’s life when all his senses are being discovered, where vision, touch, taste, and the very notion of space are in development. 

These discoveries on the part of the child, make it necessary to pay extra attention to the adults around them. 

It is at this stage of life that children’s vision improves, and they discover the existence of colors. There are also tactile sensations, when they discover hot and cold, for example, as well as the food’s taste.

  1. Cognitive development 

It occurs approximately from 2 to 7 years, and this stage of development is defined by the brain’s ability to process information and obtain it from the world. Thus, the child stores processes that involve many aspects such as language, thoughts, reasoning, memory, problem-solving, and a sense of individuality

Observing the cognitive aspects that the child develops at this stage, we can highlight here the language, which begins to be increasingly stimulated, being expanded in the children’s literacy process, when they begin to have contact with the written language, discovering another form of communication.

Thoughts and memory are capacities that expand at this stage, due to the magical universe of stories and songs, which are the major part of the connection between the imaginary universe that the child is submerged in their literary experiences and everyday reality.   

  1. Social development 

This development stage is from 7 to 12 years of age. Here, the child develops the ability to solve concrete problems, and exchange information with other children and with adults in a more solid way. 

At this stage, they begin to learn social rules and acquire a sense of justice. In addition to consolidating the lessons learned from the other phases of the process.

The child begins to develop more complex skills, where logical reasoning is reinforced. 

  1. Affective development

From 12, the child moves towards adolescence and completes his logical reasoning. At this stage, affective development also begins more consciously. 

From this stage onwards, they begin to deal with logical and abstract questions, creating hypothetical situations, and indicating theoretical and practical possibilities with autonomy. 

According to Piaget’s theoretical footsteps, we continue this development throughout our lives.

Factors that contribute to the learning process in early childhood education

The school environment is a great facilitator of this process for the little ones. 

In this environment, children develop learning in a guided way, respecting each stage of life and discoveries through the pedagogical techniques necessary for each period.  

However, when the child is included in early childhood education, it does not mean that he/she is a blank sheet, ready to be adapted to the molds of the teaching methodology used in the chosen educational institution, but rather, a being with his/her own time to develop the necessary skills for life in society. 

From the experience of early childhood education, the child develops skills that are essential for the continuation of life in society in a way that satisfies their interests and social needs in general. 

Parental encouragement is a key feature of the child’s development. Your self-confidence is based on promoting a safe environment for his/her daily discoveries. 

What are the contributions of games and play to child development?

We already know that games and play are extremely important tools for child development. 

Early childhood education has games and jokes as its main theme, demonstrating the importance of inserting these elements into the teaching-learning process of children. 

The act of playing for them represents much more than simple entertainment, as playing has a fundamental pedagogical and psychomotor role, where the little ones develop emotional skills, as well as motor and cognitive coordination.

The games can cover the stages of child development ensuring the child a lot of fun while they learn. 

They often play as a way of life. Thinking in this way, the adults’ interventions in this process are to guide, enrich the games, and gain space in the children’s imagination. 

When the teacher tells a story, it is possible for the child in his/her autonomy and creativity to reinvent that story in a moment of play, developing language, memory, and thoughts, in addition to artistic skills, among many other ways of expressing his/her learning. 

Games, exercises, or jokes that contribute to the stages of development:

Now that you know the stages of the learning process, be sure to promote an education that values each stage of your child’s development, always taking the best in the educational context, with a global teaching proposal. 

The school is an extremely important environment, where the literacy process takes place, which must be directed to the practice of respect for the children’s needs, involving interpersonal skills.  

If you want a differential in the pedagogical proposal, linked to the quality of teaching, by modern and safe infrastructure for your child, respecting each stage of development, come and meet St. Nicholas School and prepare your child for the future with the international teaching methodology that expands learning possibilities from the early school years.Click here to apply now: https://stnicholas.com.br/admissions/


  • St Nicholas

    St. Nicholas School is a school with an international education with the aim of developing responsible, confident and caring citizens. Teaching students to ask the right questions, to get to the right places for them. You can find St. Nicholas School in Pinheiros and Alphaville.


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