Chapter 5: Early Childhood

Why learn about development during early childhood?

Two girls playing with a stream of water

The time between a child’s second and sixth birthday is a time of rich development in many ways. Children are growing rapidly physically, cognitively, and socially. Children are developing language skills that will help them navigate their world as they prepare to enter school. In fact, a child will go from being able to produce approximately 50 words at age 2 to over 2000 words at age 6! The number of words these children understand is even greater!

Children in this stage are changing from intuitive problem-solvers into more sophisticated logical problem solvers. Their cognitive skills are increasing at a rapid rate along with myelination in the brain, even though their brain is beginning to lose neurons and connections through the process of synaptic pruning.

Children are also learning to navigate the social world around them. They are learning about themselves and begin to develop their own self-concept, while at the same time they are becoming aware that other people have feelings, too. Children learn to regulate their own emotions. The development that happens in these four years impacts the rest of the child’s life in many ways for years to come.

5.1 Physical Growth in Early Childhood5.2 Cognitive Growth in Early Childhood5.3 Psychosocial Growth in Early Childhood

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