While no two children follow exactly the same developmental roadmap, it’s helpful to know what to expect. Having a general idea allows you to give the best support, understanding, and guidance your child needs. It’s also helpful when making life decisions for your child, whether a toddler, 4-year old, kindergartener, and beyond.
Areas of Child Development
Child development is often measured through developmental milestones. The idea is there are skills and things most kids can do by a certain age. Things such as taking a first step, identifying colors, and speaking in sentences are good examples. These milestones typically fall in one of the following five areas of child development:
1) Speech and Language
As a child grows, he or she learns how to understand and use language by watching others and trying it for themselves. From a baby’s first words to a five-year-old’s attempts at proper grammar, kids need positive encouragement when learning to use language. It’s common for children to experience difficulty learning certain words and sounds. It’s important to give them patience, encouragement, and understanding, and to hear words spoken correctly.
2) Emotional and Social Skills
A child also learns how to interact with other people and how to express and control emotions. It starts with your baby learning to smile back at you. As they grow physically, they learn how to express all their emotions and how to have a conversation. In the beginning, they can only focus on themselves, but eventually, they learn to read social cues in others and engage in meaningful interactions.
3) Thinking, Learning, and Problem Solving
Your child’s brain is also developing from day one. They’re learning how to learn, think, and solve problems. They’re learning how to put ideas together and how to process information. They begin by exploring their environment which is why babies tend to get into things. As they grow, they move on to more and more complex concepts. Eventually, they’ll learn how to draw conclusions from what they see, smell, hear, taste, and feel.
4) Fine Motor Skills
Your child will develop their use of small muscles that control everyday tasks. The most significant set of muscles this will include are the muscles in the hands and fingers. They’ll be learning how to grasp things and pick them up. How to hold a pencil or crayon and draw or color. How to turn pages in their books and hold things in their hands. How to turn a doorknob. Later on, they’ll learn how to use a computer or tablet keyboard.
5) Gross Motor Skills
At the same time, they’ll be developing the larger muscles in their body that allow them to sit up and stand and walk. They’ll learn to run, skip, hop, and jump. They’ll be learning balance and coordination, strength and endurance, and awareness of their body and how it all works together.
Developing the Whole Child
Every child is different and develops at a different pace and sequence than all other children. However, many child development milestones have been identified in key areas and are helpful in guiding your child through the development process. Understanding these areas helps you know how to best understand, encourage, and support them throughout the process. Get started understanding your child’s development with this quick intro.
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