As an educational facility it is important not to focus strictly on the cognitive development of children, but on the overall development of each child. Thus, it becomes vital to understand the growth and development of young children in each of the developmental domains. There are many theories that attempt to chart and explain the development of children. At Stepping Stones Learning Academy, we believe that no one theory can accurately explain how children grow, think, and develop. Therefore, we attempt to establish our program on the sound research of multiple theories.

First, there are certain environmental factors that must be in place before children can gain independence, initiate and propel their own learning, and develop a strong cognitive knowledge base. All children have basic needs that must be met. Children must feel comfortable, safe, and secure. Once their physical and security needs have been met, the children can then focus on the emotional and social needs of belongingness and acceptance. The satisfying of the physical, psychological, and social needs will enable a child to move from a stage of trust to that of independence and initiation. Now, the child is able to concentrate his efforts on cognitive development.

With the ongoing research in brain development come changes in theories about child development and teaching methodology. However, certain factors and beliefs will remain constant. Children are all unique beings that develop at different rates and times, have different learning styles, and possess different types of intelligence. Each child is characterized by individual strengths and weaknesses. It is this unique individuality of children that must be remembered and utilized when developing a program.

We believe that children learn the best when exposed to a multitude and variety of "hands-on" activities and concrete, multi-modality experiences. Through self-motivated exploration and learning, higher level thinking and problem solving can be promoted, eventually leading to more abstract thinking. It is also important to remember that social learning plays a vital role in development and learning. Children not only develop social relationships with adults and peers but also gain knowledge through role-modeling/imitation and cooperative learning activities.

Thus, if given a nurturing and supportive enfironment and the opportunity to utilize their natural curiosity, desire to learn, abundance of energy, and sociability, children can excel to their fullest potential in all developmental domains.