When we talk about child development, we often speak of milestones that children hit at certain ages. But what exactly are these milestones? And why is it important for us teachers and parents to know more about this?
In this month’s blog entry, I shall try to answer these questions without dwelling too much on the specifics. But if you have questions, you can leave a comment below or send me a message at ogalalaexpert @ oga-lala.com.
Developmental milestones are a set of behaviors and skills seen in children as they grow up. It can involve physical, socio-emotional, cognitive, and communication skills such as rolling over, walking, sharing, expressing emotions, and talking. Most children roughly develop skills, at the same order but it can occur at very different rates. For example, a 24 month old may have the motor skills of a typical 30 month old and the communication skills of an 18 month old. But if you look at the same child after 6 months, they may have surged in their communication skills.
Temperaments and interests levels have big effects on which skills they focus most on but parents can ensure that they have opportunities and encouragement to develop in all these areas.
When we look at child development, we always want to look at the whole child, not just a set of skills but rather make sure that our child develops holistically. So here are the four basic categories for developmental milestones:
- Motor Skills: There are two kinds of motor skills: Fine and Gross. Fine motor skills involve the use of small muscles of the fingers, toes, wrists, lips and tongue. Fine motor skills include picking up small objects and grasping a toy. While Gross motor skills involve the use of large muscles like the arms, legs, torso and feet. It also creates bigger movements like running, jumping and rolling over
- Cognitive Skills involve the ability of a child to think, learn and solve problems. This includes a preschooler learning the alphabet, a toddler figuring out how to reach for a toy or an infant learning how to respond to facial expressions.
- Socio-Emotional Skills: also known as Social and Emotional skills, this involves children understanding their own emotions and the emotions of others. Primarily, this is built through interaction with others. This includes how to play and work well with others, sharing toys and showing empathy for others.
- Communication Skills: This includes both verbal and nonverbal communication. A toddler learning building, on his vocabulary or a preschooler trying to follow simple directions are examples of important communication skills.
One thing is for sure, just remember that each child is different and so is every parent’s experience.
Experts will agree and reassure you that these developmental milestones will take place during a certain window of time. Some children will learn the skill at a very young age, while some will develop the skill much later. This does not mean that the child, if gifted or delayed. This only shows the individual differences that exist in the each child.
Also one has to remember that these developmental abilities tend to build on one another. For example, a child cannot learn her first words without, learning how to make letter sounds. However, if the child is 4 years old and still has difficulty communicating, the parents might need to consult with a doctor or a developmental specialist to determine if some developmental issue is present or not.
By learning and understanding these milestones, teacher, parents and caregivers can keep a watchful eye on children’s growth. This will give ample opportunity for interventions to help.
Got questions for Teacher Raissa about child development and milestones? Leave a comment below or send her a message at ogalalaexpert [at] oga-lala.com.
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Teacher Raissa is a teacher by day and Crayola addict 24/7! She absolutely adores children and has been working (and playing!) with them for the last 9 years. She teaches math, is a homeroom adviser to adorable Preschoolers, and believes in learning through play.