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The main stages of child and young person development From birth through to adulthood children continually grow, develop, and learn. A child’s development can be measured through social, emotional, intellectual, physical and language developmental milestones.
All children and young people follow a similar pattern of development so the order in which each child advances from one milestone to the next will be roughly the same. However, each child will develop at a different rate and their development may not progress evenly across all areas. Therefore teaching practices aimed at child development should seek to simultaneously address each one of the developmental areas. In general, child development progresses: From head to toe. Beginning at the top of the body and gradually moving downwards From inner to outer. Firstly gaining control of muscles close to the trunk/head and then moving outwards so the large muscles in the shoulders and upper arms/thighs are first and the extremities last From simple to complex; children progress from simple words to complex sentences From general to specific; emotional responses involve the whole body in young babies but may involve only the face in an older child Areas of development It is important to understand how children develop physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually to know that all areas of development are equally as important as each other, and that all impact on one another.
Physical development includes movement skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and eye hand co-ordination. Children’s physical development can be supported by: Providing space and some equipment for the development of movement skills and gross motor skills and adequate supervision Providing material and equipment for the improvement of fine motor skills Providing cooking, sewing, woodwork and other activities to enhance hand-eye coordination. Social and emotional development includes forming relationships, learning social skills, caring for others, self reliance, making decisions, developing self confidence and dealing with emotions. Children’s social development can be supported by:
Emotional development can be supported: By being warm and affectionate towards them Giving them the opportunity to express how they feel Making them feel secure and valued Giving children time and attention to adjust to new situations Intellectual development includes attention span, understanding information, reasoning, developing memory, logical thinking and questioning.
As children mature changes in the ways they think about their world can have a profound effect on their ability to cope with the demands of school and daily life. Their ability to process greater amounts of complex information gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and gain new knowledge. Children’s intellectual development can be supported by: Developing the memory by talking about what has happened in the past Talking about what the child sees, hears, smells, touches and tastes Looking at and touching animals and plants Playing games like “I spy” Looking at machinery and computers with the children Providing make believe play by having dressing up clothes, a playhouse of pretend shop Providing creative art/craft activities Asking and answering questions and suggesting ideas Language development includes understanding and acquiring language, developing vocabulary and body language.
Language development can be supported by: Asking open ended questions Discussing books, pictures, objects or sounds Asking children to recall something from the past Asking children to give information about themselves Milestones Milestones mark the achievement of certain mental and physical abilities such as walking or being able to form a sentence, and signal the end of one developmental period and the beginning of another.
Researchers who have studied the accomplishment of many developmental tasks have determined the typical ages that are associated with each developmental milestone. However, they have also found that the time spans in which some milestones are achieved can vary, with some milestones being more variable than others. Following is a general guide to how children develop within the following age ranges:
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