Every child is unique, especially when it comes to how fast they grow and develop. Developmental milestones are used to measure their progress and determine if there are issues with their physical and emotional growth patterns. Every child grows and develops in a myriad of ways.
Stages of Child Development
The stages of child development are measured through a variety of developmental milestones in the following areas:
- Gross motor skills: Gross motor skills involve actions that involve large muscle groups within the body. Walking, standing, sitting, balancing and maneuvering the body into various positions are examples of gross motor skills.
- Fine motor skills: Fine motor skills involve those actions that are highly detailed, such as picking up a fork, eating, writing, drawing or fastening a button. While gross motor skills use large parts of the body, fine motor skills focus on precision movements made by specific body parts.
- Language: Language skills are developed as a child begins to communicate. They begin to form words and sentences in an attempt to interact with their family and other individuals in their lives.
- Cognitive: Cognitive milestones include reasoning through various problems. These milestones include reasoning, understanding specific concepts and learning new techniques. Cognitive milestones develop as the child explores and discovers how things work within their environment.
- Social: Social milestones of childhood development involve learning how to play well with others, share, offer comfort and form friendships. Developing social skills involves allowing the child to interact with other children and adults.
Each of the child development stages overlaps with the others as children continue to advance within all areas simultaneously. For some children, certain areas are slower to develop than others. This is not a cause for alarm, however. Parents can monitor their child’s progress and report discrepancies to their pediatrician. In most cases, the child is developing normally at their own set rate.
Child Development Theories
Child development theories were created to explain how a child develops and what stages they go through during the process. There are several theories that have been developed, each with their own specific take on how a child develops and grows to maturity.
- Developmental Milestones – A developmental milestone is a goal that is normally reached at a specific age. One of the most common is walking. On average, children reach this milestone at around one year or 12 months of age.
- Cognitive Stages – The theory that involves cognitive stages was developed by Psychologist Jean Piaget. This theory involves concepts like egocentrism and assimilation.
- Psychosocial Stages – Erik Erikson developed a theory that spans a person’s entire lifetime. It involves benchmarks in which a person’s way of thinking shifts due to specific events. One such milestone with this theory is learning to trust or distrust someone or something.
- Psychosexual Stages – Psychologist Sigmund Freud is associated with this particular theory. Sexual growth moves through several stages each person must pass through. It was his belief that a person must move through each stage for sufficient growth. If a person failed to adequately explore or learn from each stage, it would have a dramatic affect on their adulthood.
- Moral Stages – This theory involves stages of moral development. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg developed the theory with three main concepts and six sub-concepts that were used to measure a child’s development by their moral behavior.
Each theory holds merit in its own right, but the most common way used by parents to measure their child’s development is physical milestones. Physical milestones are easily noted and quite visible, especially to parent’s who constantly play and work with their children to help them achieve their goals.
The Parent’s Role
When it comes to a child’s growth, their parents are the first to notice milestones and also the first to teach them the things they need to know to reach them. From holding their bottle to taking their first steps, the first year’s development is primarily due to the child’s desire to achieve and the parent’s ability to teach and encourage them. Some parents may choose to enroll their children in a child development center or preschool type facility as they get older.
Many child development articles allude to the fact that putting children in a social environment, such as a preschool, daycare or child development center will help them achieve certain developmental milestones much faster. A child with older brothers and sisters will also have the ability to grow and develop by interacting with their siblings.
The Role of the Teacher
Teachers also play a vital role in a child’s development, physically, socially and psychologically. A teacher must constantly monitor how children interact with one another. They must intervene when arguments get out of hand and ensure that any altercation or argument does not turn physical. Smaller children will often hit or slap their playmates if they begin to get upset. Teacher’s must then teach the child the appropriate behavior and make sure to reinforce the lesson at all times.
When it comes to teachers, they are primarily concerned with social and psychological behaviors and development. Physical development is learned in the process, but in a school setting, it is somewhat secondary. Teachers do, however, closely monitor a child’s physical ability to perform certain tasks. The classroom is where many of the fine motor skills are learned and honed to perfection. Grasping a pencil, writing letters, drawing pictures and picking up small objects are just a few of the fine motor skills that are practiced extensively in a class room setting.
When it comes to observing the fine motor skills, it is often the teacher who notices problems first. The inability to successfully complete specific tasks shows the teacher what areas need to be worked on and developed. They will often communicate these findings to the parents who can also begin to work with the child at home. By working together, they can determine if the issue is a developmental problem or there is something physically wrong that is preventing the child from learning according to normal age guidelines.
A child’s development goes through several stages. Each learning disabilities that can hinder psychological and emotional growth. There are ways to overcome physical disabilities. Learning disabilities are also surpassable.
Finding either type of disability early and learning how to help the child compensate for the inadequacies will help them overcome the obstacles and move forward to achieve their full potential. Every child is different and will learn and grow at their own pace. Taking that into consideration will help both parents and teachers nurture and encourage child development no matter what the impediments are.