Children’s development is continuous and can be measured in a number of different ways.
Although all children will develop at different rates and in different ways, the sequence in which they develop will be roughly the same as they need to have developed one skill, for example walking, before they move on to develop another such as running and jumping.
Development is often referred to on a timeline and is broken down in ages. As development is more rapid in early years the milestones start by being quite close together before becoming further apart as baby becomes a child and then a young adult.
The aspects of development that children are measured on are physical, language, social and emotional, and intellect.
Physical development is usually very rapid early on in the child’s development. Within weeks of being born a baby will start to smile and respond to sounds and environments around them. By 6 months as their muscles begin to develop they will reach for and hold objects which they will also put into their mouths.
By one year old they are beginning to crawl or shuffle, pulling or pushing on furniture to stand and then cruise using furniture or adult for support. Sitting has progressed to unaided and they are rolling from their front to their back. They are beginning to be inquisitive with objects, passing them between hands, handling them in different ways and looking for things that are hiding. Their hand to eye co-ordination improves as items are passed from hand to hand. Their first teeth may start to appear and solid foods may start to be introduced.
Between one and two years walking will begin and toys will start to be pulled/pushed along whilst walking. Objects will be picked up and banged together or built to make a small tower. A preference for one hand may start to appear as they begin to hold crayons etc when mark making on paper. They enjoy trying to feed themselves both with finger foods and with a spoon, and will drink from a cup with both hands. Waving goodbye becomes fun, they will begin to point to what they want and shake their head to mean ‘no’.
Between the ages of 2 and 3 mark making on paper will progress to scribbles as they begin to use pencils etc. Balls start to be kicked and thrown. Bricks will be built into larger towers than before, and they will start to experiment with liquids in play by pouring.
At 3 years children begin to gain more independence. Their mobility and climbing skills will be advancing as they run, jump, catch, walk up and down stairs etc. Dexterity increases with small objects like puzzles, threading beads etc. Dressing and undressing will be assisted but more cooperative.
At 4 years boys gross motor skills tend to be more developed when it comes to throwing and aiming, building, climbing, pedalling etc, whereas girls fine motor skills tend to be more developed with the use of scissors, holding a pencil to draw and colour threading small beads sewing stitches etc.
At 5 years children will have more pencil control and will begin to copy letters and shapes, and draw people. Ball games will develop more structure as they begin to kick with aim. They will begin to learn to hop on one foot, then the other and also to skip.
At 6 years dressing becomes independent at they learn to do buttons, laces etc. Writing becomes more fluent as copying letter shapes has progressed to words and sentences with greater pencil control. Confidence has increased when playing outside in climbing, jumping from heights and riding a bike.
At 7 years children begin to enjoy playing team games as they are now hitting a ball, running, jumping, skipping, swinging. However until around the age of 9 they may misjudge their ability.
The age between 12 and 19, between childhood and adulthood is referred to as adolescence. Physical development during this period is very different in each child. As some may be just beginning to mature physically, others may have already...
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