5 Important Preschool Development Stages

There are a lot of discussions these days about early childhood education, and rightfully so.

The preschool years are a time when children are growing and learning rapidly, and ensuring that they have access to quality education can set them up for success in the future.

But what does that look like?

What kind of things should parents be looking for as their child progresses through development stages?

This post will explore some of the key milestones that children typically reach during their time in preschool.

By understanding what to expect, parents can be better prepared to help their children succeed during this important period of life.

Related : How to Promote Cognitive Development in Preschoolers

Preschoolers Development Stages

Children typically go through the following five preschooler development stages: sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.

Each stage is characterized by different milestones related to physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development. 


During the sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years), infants and toddlers develop a basic understanding of the world around them through their senses and motor skills. For example, they learn that objects still exist even when they can no longer see them (object permanence). They also begin to use symbols and language to communicate with others. 

The sensorimotor stage is the first stage in cognitive development, according to Jean Piaget’s theory.

It begins at birth and lasts until about two years of age.

During this stage, infants and toddlers learn about the world around them through their senses and motor activities.

For example, they discover that they can make things happen by moving their bodies – such as making a rattle shake or a mobile spin.

They also begin to understand that objects still exist even when they can’t see them – such as when a parent leaves the room and then comes back again.

As children gain more experience with the world around them, they move on to the next stage of cognitive development.


The preoperational stage is a period in cognitive development when children learn to use symbols and begin to think logically.

However, their thinking is still concrete and focused on the here-and-now.

During this stage, which lasts from ages 2 to 7, children gain a better understanding of the world around them and start to use language to communicate their thoughts and ideas.

They also become more aware of how things work and begin to experiment with cause-and-effect relationships.

Although the preoperational stage marks an important milestone in cognitive development, it is important to remember that children at this age are still learning how to think logically and handle abstract concepts.

As such, they may often rely on magical thinking and fail to consider other possibilities or points of view.

Concrete Operational

The concrete operational stage is a period in cognitive development when children learn to think logically about concrete events and concepts.

During the concrete operational stage, which occurs between the ages of 7 and 12, children begin to think logically about concrete events.

They are able to understand that objects can exist even when they cannot be seen, and they can grasp the concept of cause and effect.

Preschoolers in this stage are also developing their problem-solving skills, and they begin to experiment with different solutions to problems.

As they enter the concrete operational stage, children become more skilled at planning and carrying out activities.

They are also able to take on more responsibility, such as helping with chores around the house.

With the development of these new skills, preschoolers are better equipped to handle the challenges of elementary school and beyond.

Formal Operational

The formal operational stage is the fourth and final stage of cognitive development, according to famed developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.

This stage begins around age 12, when children are able to think abstractly and use logic to solve problems.

One of the hallmark features of the formal operational stage is the ability to perform mental operations, and ornamental gymnastics.

These are mental activities that involve clearly defined steps, such as planning ahead, testing hypotheses, and comparing and contrasting.

Although preschoolers are not yet able to think logically in the same way as older children and adults, they are beginning to develop the ability to perform mental operations.

This helps them to understand concepts such as cause and effect and to begin solving problems in a more systematic way.

As preschoolers enter the formal operational stage, they are better equipped to handle the demands of elementary school and beyond.

Source : https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002013.htm

Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development in Preschoolers

Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development are based on his belief that we humans develop in a series of eight predetermined stages.

According to Erikson, each stage is characterized by a different psychosocial crisis, which must be resolved before the individual can successfully move on to the next stage.

Preschoolers, typically aged 3-5 years old, are in the third stage of Erikson’s model, known as the initiative versus guilt stage.

During this stage, children become more aware of those around them and begin to develop a sense of self.

They also start to explore their surroundings and learn new skills.

In order to successfully navigate this stage, preschoolers must learn to balance their need for independence with their guilt over wanting to do things on their own.

If they are unable to resolve this crisis, they may develop a sense of inferiority or a fear of failure.

Conversely, if they are successful in resolving the crisis, they will develop a sense of purpose and an ability to take initiative.

Source : https://www.webmd.com/children/what-to-know-eriksons-8-stages-development


Although there is no single right or wrong way to parent, it’s important to be aware of the different developmental stages that preschoolers go through so that you can provide them with the best possible environment for growth.

By understanding and responding to your child’s needs at each stage, you’ll help them grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults.

Sohaib Hasan Shah

Sohaib's journey includes 10+ years of teaching and counseling experience at BCSS School in elementary and middle schools, coupled with a BBA (Hons) with a minor in Educational Psychology from Curtin University (Australia) . In his free time, he cherishes quality moments with his family, reveling in the joys and challenges of parenthood. His three daughters have not only enriched his personal life but also deepened his understanding of the importance of effective education and communication, spurring him to make a meaningful impact in the world of education.

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