The Stages of Child Development
Every child goes through a process of child development. This process involves mastering skills such as sitting, crawling, walking, running and jumping. The list goes on and on. Children usually learn these developmental milestones in a predictable time table and in a sequential order. Some skills are needed before other skills can be developed.
Developmental milestones are those skills that are developed during a time frame that most children are able to reach. This also usually occurs in a sequential order. For example a child needs to learn to stand before they learn to walk. So certain skills have to develop before other skills can. Each milestone is built on the last milestone developed. A child’s brain grows at a rapid rate during the first several years which allows for these milestones to take place. There are five different areas we need to look at individually. Let’s dive into them and see what this means for you and your child.
1. Cognitive Development-
Cognitive development helps kids to learn and solve problems. Whether it’s a baby grasping at toys or objects, using their hands or mouths to explore, or a preschooler who is learning the alphabet or to count. These are crucial skills that enable children to process sensory information as well as analyze and problem solve. This also involves building and learning skills such as focusing, thinking and memory. Reading books, building towers, working on puzzles and playing memory games are a great way to build these skills.
2. Social and Emotional Development-
This type of development pertains to the ability of a child to interact with other children. This includes helping themselves and using self-control. It’s a child’s ability to understand others feelings. Their ability to build friendships with other kids and adults too. In order for children to develop these skills they need to be able to focus, follow directions, and exercise control over their own body. Every child develops these skills at a different rate. Without the development of these skills it can impact their success in school and healthy relationships.
3. Speech and Language Development-
The first three years of life, while the brain is rapidly developing, is the time frame when a child acquires speech and language skills. Provide your child with lots of sounds, sights and constant exposure to speech and language. Talking to your child as well as reading to them is so vital during these years. When a baby is born they learn to cry when they are hungry, tired or need a diaper change. It works – we figure out their cries and do what needs to be done to comfort them. Newborns also start to recognize sounds around them such as their mom’s or dad’s voice. By six months of age a baby starts to recognize the sounds of language. They start to respond to the language.
Children develop their developmental skills at different times. Speech and language skills are no different. They follow a natural timetable for mastering language skills. I had a child in my daycare who had problems speaking. Her and I would sit and sing together and within a month her speech improved.
I included a link below of the milestones for normal development of speech and language development courtesy of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
These milestones help to aid health care professionals in determining if a child is on track or if the child needs extra help. Delay may be caused by many different factors like hearing loss or a speech or language disorder. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any concerns.
4. Fine Motor Skills Development-
Fine motor skills pertain to the ability to use small muscles in the hands and fingers. They are associated with using scissors, coloring, writing and drawing. These skills are also developed at different stages. With fine motor skills it’s important to give your child lots of opportunities to practice. In my preschool we practice a lot of fine motor skills without them realizing that. For the infants who are able to grasp we give them toys they can pick up. As they grow and can eat from the table we cut up small pieces that they can pick up themselves. When they are older we play with play-dough and plastic cutting tools. We practice cutting paper with scissors. Stickers or window clings are a great way to practice. Kids love lacing shapes or beads. Drawing and writing stories are fun ways for older kids to practice these skills too.
5. Gross Motor Skills Development
Gross motor skills are the development of the large muscles in the arms, legs and body. These skills in babies involve rolling over, sitting up, standing up and walking. An older child learns to run, jump, climb or ride a bike. This type of skill is important in socializing, developing relationships and overall health.
If your child struggles with these, there are many things that can be done to improve these skills. Jumping on a trampoline, participating in martial arts, playing on playgrounds. I would take my son, who is an adult now, to the school playground so he could play on the equipment to get used to it. I felt more comfortable and so did he. Practicing pedaling tricycles, bikes are great practice. My kids always loved obstacle courses. I always made sure there were a lot of different obstacles to practice all these skills. My daycare kids love jumping rope, playing hopscotch, climbing and running through sprinklers. These are just a few of a broad range of ideas to help you work with your child.
What If My Child Does Not Reach These Milestones?
As a parent it can become a concern when we compare our child with another, including a sibling. This is normal because we want what’s best for our child. If you have any concerns start with your child’s pediatricians. They see lots of children and will let you know if there is reason for concern. They can point you in the right direction to get the help your child may need. Whether you have one child or more, reaching milestones can be a concern. In each developmental milestone there are examples I’ve given you on how to help your child to grow in that area. Don’t forget to click on the link below to see all the milestones. If you have any concerns please contact your pediatrician.
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