Cognitive Development

Each student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is developed through a collaborative team approach consisting of the student’s home district representative, family, and Stepping Stones staff. The IEP identifies the student’s specific goals and objectives that are used to develop their education program. At Stepping Stones, each child’s goals and objectives are further evaluated and defined by our multidisciplinary team to create a specific plan based on each child’s learning style so that maximum learning of goals can be achieved. Using this highly individualized approach, not only does a child achieve a goal but they learn how to generalize the skill into all aspects of their lives.

Individualized Cognitive Development  


What is cognitive development and why is it so important for your child?

Cognitive development is how children learn. The term cognitive development refers to the process of growth and change in the areas such as thinking, reasoning and understanding, and ultimately how children acquire, retain, and generalize new information. Students learn by drawing on social-emotional experiences, language, fine and gross motor activities, and perceptual experiences and abilities to help enhance their cognitive development. Students who attend our program generally need additional supports in the aforementioned areas in order to maximize their learning potential. Understanding each child’s unique learning styles and needs, the collaborative multi-disciplinary team at Stepping Stones individualizes a learning program for each student to maximize their cognitive developmental goals.

Each child’s cognitive program is implemented through several methods:

  • 1:1 instruction: supervised by the lead teacher to ensure the child’s IEP goals are being addressed while their individual learning styles are being acknowledged
  • Individualized strategies: incorporated into all daily educational and therapeutic learning
  • Physical cueing and prompting: hand-over-hand modeling; gentle touch to prompt responses; and role modeling.
  • Visual and Verbal cueing: role modeling; providing directions with varied response times allowed; verbal prompts followed by physical prompt follow-through; and addressing each child with the tone/style that works best for them (i.e. positive; instructional; single words).
  • Small group instruction: designed to foster mixed level grouping as well as single level learning.
  • Large group instruction broken down into activities that address the varied levels of individuals in the group while managing the overall goals of the class.
  • Multi-sensory approach utilizes many different senses in each lesson. Every lesson and task will have the students engage with the material in many different ways and will utilize the sensory approaches that work best for each child. Multi-sensory teaching conveys information through things like touch and movement, called tactile and kinesthetic elements, as well as sight and hearing.
  • Modeling and imitation by professional staff as well as peers helps children improve their knowledge through interaction with others in their environment. Through varied modeling and imitation tasks and techniques children will learn to initiate social interactions; build their self-esteem; become familiar with diverse activities; improve behaviors; expand knowledge; and learn new ways to have fun.