Learning to Learn

Age Birth-2:  During this time a child's primary mode of learning occurs through use of the five senses. Learning is directly related through experiencing the environment. Children touch things, hold, look, listen, taste, feel, bang, and shake everything in sight. During this development stage, the sense of time is NOW and the sense of space is HERE. When a child adds motor skills such as creeping, crawling, and walking -- watch out -- their environment expands by leaps and bounds. Children are now exploring their environment with both senses and their ability to get around.

This type of learning actually continues through the age of twelve, but becomes less important as the years go by.  


Age 2-7: During this stage a child is busy gathering information or learning, and then trying to figure out ways that they can use what they have learned to begin problem solving.

During this stage children will be thinking in specifics/concrete and will find it very difficult to generalize. An example would be a ball: A ball is not something that you use to play a game, it is just something that you throw.

This is the time when children learn by asking questions. Teachers and parents will begin to think that if you hear the word "Why?" one more time that you will go crazy. Children generally will not want a real answer to the question at this point. When asking, "Why do we have grass?" --- The child simply wants to know that grass is for walking on something in which to run.  No technical answers for now! 


Age 7-10/11:  This is a wonderful age as children begin to manipulate data mentally.  They take the information at hand and begin to define, compare, and contrast it.  They, however, still think concretely.

If you were to ask a pre-operations child, "What makes the the wind blow?"  They would most likely answer, "There is a big fan up there".  The concrete child would put a little more thought into it and answer something like this: "Sometimes the air is hot, and sometimes it is cold and when the change happens, it cause wind."

The concrete operational child is capable of logical thought.  This child still learns through their senses, but no longer relies on only them to teach him.  He now thinks as well.  A good teacher for this age child, would start each lesson at a concrete level and then move toward a generalized level. 

An example of this would be:

Statement: Joey is kind:

The teacher would start out by telling about an example of what Joey did to be kind. (Concrete)
Then add, let's talke about how Joey went about being kind. (Less concrete/More general)
Then teach that Joey is kind. (General concept)

A seven to ten year old is very literal in their thinking.  They will take everything that you say, do, and teach at face value.  BLACK is black and WHITE is white.  These children have a difficult time with symbols and figurative language. "It is raining cats and dog!"  They expect to see dogs and cats coming down from the sky.


Age 11-up: At this time children will break through the barrier of literalism/concrete and move to thinking in more abstract terms.  They no longer restrict thinking to time and space.   Children now start to reflect, hypothesize, and theorize.  They actually begin thinking about thinking. 

In the formal operation period, children need to develop cognitive abilities.   The New Bloom's Taxonomy better help with these learning levels.


Children rarely learn in isolation.



Jefferson County Schools