Child Development 101
Lets face it, raising a child can be a bit nerve wracking. Between work, school, and daily life it can feel impossible to find any time to make sure your little one is developing properly. To help make things a little easier for you, here are the five main areas of child development that you can focus on to help your child grow up to be the best they can be.
Cognitive skill is an umbrella term that dictates your child’s overall knowledge of the world. It dictates how they grow to understand the things that are happening around them. Think, who, what, where, why, and how. As they grow older their thinking begins to get more and more complex as they start to question things around them. It’s important to help them along during these stages to keep them curious and learning about their environment. Try asking them questions about how they think or feel, teach them colors, numbers, and shapes. You can even try playing some memory games with them to help develop their recall skills. Anything to try and keep their brains working as much as their bodies are.
Social and emotional
Social and emotional development is exactly what it sounds like. It garners how your child interacts with others and manages their own feelings. From the moment they are born your child begins to start developing these skills, first by interacting with their parents or caregivers and eventually other children via daycare and schooling. They show off these skills through smiling, waving, giggling, and many other behaviors you’d expect from a typical child. Thankfully, developing this skill for your child is actually pretty easy. Just make sure you’re giving them lots of love and attention (hopefully you’re doing that already) and give them plenty of time to interact with other people, especially children their own age.
Speech and language
This area of development dictates how your child communicates and understands others. From baby babble to their first words, your child is constantly developing new language skills and testing out new words. Your child will first start to develop these skills in the first twelve months and then continue to rapidly develop these skills further from age 2 to 5. This means it is imperative that you are always talking and communicating with your child in order to help teach them these skills. Because children have a tendency to mimic our own speech patterns, try your best to be talking to them as often as possible. Even if it’s just the typical “goo goo” and “ga ga” every little bit helps!
Fine motor skills
When we talk about a child’s fine motor skills we are specifically referring to all the minor movements your child makes on a daily basis, especially when it comes to the fingers and hands. Your child is constantly developing their hand eye coordination in order to better perform complex tasks with their hands. It can help to do things like giving your child finger foods or letting them play with building blocks to help develop these skills. You can also teach them to do things like zip up their jackets or put on gloves to help them get a feel for common everyday tasks.
Gross motor skills
Don’t worry, this isn’t the same kind of gross you feel when changing your child’s diaper. Gross motor skills just means any kind of large body movements. Think head, neck, arms, and legs. More specifically, all these things working in a controlled and uniform manner. Children first start developing these skills around 3-4 months in when they first learn to sit up. They go on to further develop these skills as they grow older, whether that be through lifting, crawling, running, etc. Here are just a few ways to help your child develop these skills a little further.
- Giving them a ball to throw, kick, catch, and run around with in order to encourage them to crawl around and get moving.
- Stacking toys like blocks can teach them to build and lift things to make towers and structures.
- Parks! Take them on the swings, the jungle gym, the slide. This is also great for getting them out in nature and helping them be more comfortable with the outside world.
- “Simon Says” is a great way to teach your child how to do things like clap their hands, move their arms around, reach up high, and whatever other movements you can think of. Get creative!
Hopefully this brief overview gives you a better idea of what kinds of things to look for when you’re trying to further your child’s development. But remember, at the end of the day nobody is perfect! It’s okay for you to make mistakes along the way as you’re trying to help your child get a grasp on the world around them. Just do your best and make sure you do everything you can to give your child lots of love and encouragement along the way.