Child development refers to the various stages of physical, social and psycho logic growth that occurs from birth through young adulthood.
Development is continuous from conception to maturity and its sequence is the same in all children, though its rate varies from one child to another. Children develop from being totally dependent newborns to independent individuals by the acquisition of skills like gross motor, fine motor and language, cognitive and social skills.
Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.
Milestones of child development cover six major domains/areas of development which represent commonly held, research based, organizations of the dimensions of a child’s overall development. These six domains are interrelated as growth and development in one area often influences development in other areas.
These milestones are arranged along a sequence which helps the adults to identify a progressive set of knowledge, skills and dispositions that are expected to occur as a child matures. These six domain areas are:
a) Social and Emotional development
b) Approaches to Learning
c) Language and Literacy
d) Cognition and General Knowledge
e) Fine Arts
f) Physical Development and Health
Within each domain are related strands and indicators, examples and strategies arranged in gradual progression by approximate age range, which when combined represent the comprehensive elements of the domain. Each individual strand is broken down by indicator, example and strategy.
Indicators, Examples and Strategies are organized along a developmental sequence by age ranges: birth to 18 months; 18 to 36 months; 36 to 48 months and 48 months and older.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
It includes systematic changes in social relationships, self-perceptions, understanding and managing or regulating emotions in both personal and social contexts. Children’s social relationships with adults include ability to trust and interact, to recognize adult roles, to form and maintain relationships, to negotiate interactions in a positive manner and to develop pro-social behaviors like respect, empathy and sensitivity.
The key to child emotional development is the ability to trust and form bonding relationships, to recognize and express their own feelings, to understand and respond to the emotions of others. The understanding of emotional development is self-concept or overall perception of self including traits, habits, abilities, motives and social roles which include their apparent self-esteem.
The Social and Emotional development is organized into the following strands:
• Relationships with others
• Learning about self (self-perceptions)
• Expression of feelings and self-regulation
APPROACHES TO LEARNING:
The approaches to learning domain involve the inclinations, dispositions, attitudes, habits and styles which reflect the way children involve them in learning and orient themselves to learning a wide range of skills. A well-designed learning environment plays a key role to facilitate child curiosity, exploration, assess and build their strengths, interests and knowledge. The Approaches to Learning domain is organized into the following strands:
• Initiative and curiosity
• Creativity and Inventiveness
• Reasoning and Problem-solving
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY:
Attaining language and literacy skill is a complex process during which, over the course of only a few years, children make great strides in learning the meaning and structure of words and then sentences, how to use words to convey meaning and how to understand and use printed materials. Adults play a critical role in embedding the language in children’s everyday relationships and experiences in facilitating young children’s language and literacy development by providing language and print-rich environments, interactions and opportunities.
The Language and Literacy domain is organized into five strands as:
• Listening and Speaking
• Phonological Awareness and Alphabetic Knowledge
• Print Awareness and Concepts
• Early Writing
COGNITION AND GENERAL KNOWLEDGE:
Across a range of educational and social contexts cognitive development is essential for daily functioning and success. Cognitive development refers to the process through which child develop their ability to think, assimilate and use information. It occurs both externally and internally. First, child discovers and mentally develops understanding of new concepts by being in and interacting with their environment. Then, child gain information from adults and other children to acquire knowledge that originates in the family, community and culture that they would not otherwise learn.
The Cognition and General Knowledge domain is organized into the following strands:
• Learning about mathematical concepts
• Learning about the World
• Learning about Families and Communities
A central aspect of Cognition is the child ability to express ideas and represent through dance arts, music, theater arts and visual arts. The Arts is essential for child development and education as it nurture the imagination and creative spirit, develop independence, self-esteem and self-expression of children. It also enables the child to discover more about who they are and to gain insights into their own culture and the cultures around them. The milestones of child development and teaching strategies in the fine art disciplines are:
• Dance Arts
• Theatre Arts
• Visual Arts
PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT AND HEALTH:
Physical and motor development occurs along somewhat predictable sequence from simple to more complex. Firstly, most children develop motor skills from head to toe; secondly they develop skills from the center of their bodies outward; and thirdly motor skills involving large portions of their body first and then progress to skills using specific body parts.
In order, to meet the challenges of growing up like understanding the benefits of safety, prevention, good hygiene and suitable medical care, adult modeling and discussion about good health practices assist to provide child with the knowledge and skills to flourish physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
The milestones of child development and care-giver strategies involve following domains:
• Gross Motor Development
• Fine Motor Development
• Health and Well-being (Nutrition and Self-care Practices)
Thus, the Milestones offer a complete reference to combine our understanding of young children and their needs and to help reduce inequities in achievement as child mature. The Milestones also highlight the essential need for partnerships among families, early childhood programs and services, schools and community. It may also be of particular value to parents and families, early childhood professionals, child care directors and providers working in the field of early intervention.
Guest Author: Ruby Bhullar
Student: James Lind Institute
The above article has been submitted by a guest author. CRS is not responsible for any information provided in this article.