17 December 2021 |3 minute read|
In the first five years of life, a child’s brain develops faster than any other stage of human development. If you’ve ever spent time with kids, you probably have noticed that they’re amazing learners. They say a child’s brain is like a sponge- it soaks up huge amounts of vocabulary, information, and skills, creating millions of neural networks in their brains. Developmental milestones act as a practical guideline of ideal child development. Keeping track of these developmental milestones helps in detecting any challenges and reducing developmental obstacles.
Piaget's stages of cognitive development include :
1. Sensorimotor stage: birth until 2 years old
2. Pre-operational stage: toddlerhood (18-24 months) until early childhood (age 7)
During these two stages, children are able to think symbolically, their language use improves, and they develop memory and imagination. In addition, child temperament (positive affect, negative affect, effortful control, etc) solidifies into child personality, and as children grow older, their personality gradually develops.
Parents and other caregivers can support children by speaking to and playing with them. Caring for a child by understanding their needs and tending to them serves as a safety net from stress. Relationships with family members, caregivers, as well as early childhood educators, and other children are also fundamental. A loving and secure relationship helps you and your child learn a little more about each other day by day.
It’s important for parents to set a routine for their child during their early childhood since this builds structure, comfort, and security for them. Disciplining your child on their sleeping and eating times: when to go to bed, when to eat, what to eat, having a set sleep schedule, etc. is essential for healthy child development. Additionally, during the first five years of a person’s life, their foundations for learning, health, and behavior are determined. So, this is a crucial stage where parents can familiarize their child with a healthy lifestyle and make them used to healthy eating.
Children thrive in environments where they have opportunities to play and explore. Playing and interacting with other children and adults are also opportunities for child learning. Play incorporates all of a child’s senses (sight, hearing, smell) and by playing, they develop analytical and problem-solving skills and creativity. By playing with their caregivers, children develop a sense of self-worth and confidence.
Infants are born ready to learn; thus, they should be surrounded by plenty of activities that allow them to play, learn, execute, and make use of what they’ve learned. Children have numerous skills to learn over many years. They rely on parents, family members, other caregivers, and teachers to hone the right skills for them to become independent, healthy, and successful in their lives. How the brain develops is strongly influenced by a child’s experiences with other people and the world.
In addition, exposing children to books, stories, and songs helps them with their language (speech and comprehension) and facilitates their learning at school, and primes them for success. When a child is learning physical skills and body coordination, they’re simultaneously developing speech and learning about social cues and emotional expressions. This is one of the several reasons why early childhood education is so critical.
Learning starts from birth, not just when a child enters preschool or school. It’s important to give a child space to try things on their own and make mistakes. This is when they’ll form their independence and figure out how the world works for themselves- it’s a part of their journey of learning. Child development refers to physical, linguistic, cognitive, and emotional changes that occur in a child from the time he is born to early adulthood. All of these dimensions are intertwined and interdependent and include:
- Social and emotional growth
- Language and communication
- Movement and physical development
- Cognitive growth (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
All these aspects are crucial for healthy development and growth, for they are interrelated. For instance, during preschool years, learning language and communication boosts social and emotional awareness. Physical development through movement can allow toddlers to have cognitive discoveries and expand their problem-solving skills. When you comprehend development in its entirety, you would see that educating kids surpasses letters and numbers.
As much as it’s important to create a language-rich surrounding for a child using colors, shapes, and numbers, it’s also important to build a child’s emotional vocabulary that includes various human emotions and advances a child’s emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills in their preschool years.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Child Development. Early Brain Development and Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/early-brain-development.html
Importance of the Early Years. Retrieved from https://www.beststart.org/OnTrack_English/1-importance.html
Integrated Healthcare for Children with Developmental Disabilities. Why Is Child Development Important? Retrieved from https://www.futurelearn.com/info/courses/children-with-developmental-disabilities/0/steps/60045
Kid Sense. What Is Child Development? Retrieved from https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/what-is-child-development/
Malvik, C, (2020, September 28). Early Childhood Development Milestones: What You Should Know. Retrieved from https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/early-childhood-development/
The Australian Parenting Website. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/development/understanding-development/development-first-five-years