Learning is a complex process that develops through stages. It builds on innate abilities that are inherited and genetically coded at birth. Very few of us learn anywhere near our maximum capacity as established by our innate skills. This is why both study and practice rewards most people with growth in learning and performance. The flow of our learning development progresses through the stages of sensory and motor skills, cognitive abilities, and finally results in the ability to assimilate formal instruction. A deficiency in any one stage can result in problems in the following dependent stages.
Schools, government programs, and special education all focus on academic instruction. Unfortunately, they seldom recognize that not all students possess the fundamental cognitive skills required to efficiently process and understand information presented through academic instruction. Without the appropriate cognitive skills in place, increased academic instruction and tutoring does nothing to improve learning ability. It accomplishes little in its effort to help the students learn. A closer look at the stages of learning will reveal the importance of cognitive skill development.
- Innate Abilities - A person's innate abilities are at the foundation of the learning process. These represent the genetically determined abilities -- and limitations -- we possess at birth that we inherited from our parents. Mozart certainly possessed a greater innate musical capacity than can be said for most of us, but most of us can improve our musical ability with practice. Our upward limits are defined by innate abilities, but how near we come to performing at those upper limits is determined by other elements necessary to learning.
- Sensory/Motor Skills - Sensory and motor skills build on the foundation of our innate abilities. Sensory skills are those such as vision, hearing, and touch. They are responsible for receiving information. Motor skills relate to muscles and movement and include crawling, walking, running, handwriting, and speaking. Motor skills give expression to the information our senses receive and process.
Both sensory and motor skills are partially determined by genetic code and partly learned through repetitive interaction with the environment. These skills, in almost everyone, can be improved with proper practice. This is the basis for athletic and music instrument practice, physical therapy, and other similar performance enhancement efforts.
- Cognitive Skills - Cognitive abilities allow us to process the sensory information we collect. These include our ability to analyze, evaluate, retain information, recall experiences, make comparisons, and determine action. Although cognitive skills have an innate component, the bulk of cognitive skills are learned. When this development does not occur naturally, cognitive weaknesses are the result. These weaknesses diminish an individual's capacity to learn and are difficult to correct without specific and appropriate intervention. Like sensory and motor skills, cognitive skills can be practiced and improved with the right training. Changes in cognitive ability can be seen dramatically in cases where an injury affects a certain physical area of the brain. The correct therapy can actually "rewire" a patient's brain, and cognitive function can be restored or enhanced. This is also true in students. Weak cognitive skills can be strengthened, and normal cognitive skills can be enhanced to increase ease and performance in learning.
- Instruction - Formal instruction is the last and most diverse level of learning. This includes academic subjects such as algebra, reading, and typing -- subjects that are neither intuitive nor likely to develop on their own. They are the result of formal education and are dependent on the strength of an individual's underlying cognitive skills if they are to be learned successfully and easily. The knowledge base of each subject can be expanded, but without the proper foundation of cognitive skills, academic progress can be a difficult and frustrating struggle.
Cognitive Stages for Child Development – Cognitive Skills are Trainable and Can Be Improved
As individuals grow and as academic challenges increase in complexity, it becomes important that the underlying skills supporting those challenges are in place and functioning properly. Strong cognitive skills are the key to strong academic performance. Without them in place, it is impossible for an individual with learning or reading problems to perform to their potential. LearningRx training programs (ThinkRx and ReadRx) focus on training and developing the underlying cognitive skills required to excel academically. Through accurate testing and skill-specific training exercises, the programs are tailored to overcome a person's individual weaknesses. The training is delivered in a one-on-one environment to produce rapid, noticeable, measurable changes. It is only after an individual's cognitive skill set is in place and functioning effectively that they will be able to successfully conquer the challenges of learning. If you or someone you know struggles to learn or read, the reason may be a weakness in one or more underlying cognitive skills. If this is the cause of the learning difficulty, it can be corrected, and a lifetime of faster, easier learning and reading can be the result. Use the Learning Center Locator to contact the nearest LearningRx Training Center and learn more about cognitive skills training and how it can improve your life.