What is Child Development?
Child Development is the growth and changes your child goes through from the time they are born until they are fully-grown adults.
Child development is effected by both internal (i.e. genes) and external (i.e. parents) factors. The choices we make for our children can have a big impact on their development (no pressure, right!).
Child Development covers multiple aspects:
Cognition – The ability to learn and solve problems.
Social interaction and emotional regulation – Interacting with others and mastering self-control.
Speech and Language – Understanding and using language, reading, and communicating.
Physical skills – Fine Motor (finger) skills, and
gross motor (whole body) skills.
Sensory awareness – The registration of sensory information (touch, sound, sights, smell, taste).
What are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor activities are whole-body activities. Gross motor skills are used and developed when your child is playing outside, climbing a tree, swinging from branches, and getting sweaty!
These are so important, and should be the main focus for any parent, especially at the toddler stage. Encourage your kids to run, jump, climb, and hang as often as possible. Outdoor play is incredibly important for a child’s proper development.
Playing outside with your children is cheaper than a gym contract, is an excellent workout, and creates memories that last.
Gross motor skills affect every part of your child’s life, from running, to correct posture, to fine motor development (writing and cutting).
Low muscle tone is something we see as teachers on a daily basis, and it’s quite interesting as it shares a lot of symptoms with ADD. We know this might be a sensitive topic, but turn off the TV and iPads and get your kids outside to play.
What are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor activities encourage the use of the small muscles in the hand to complete a task. A good clue that your child is using fine motor muscles is when scissors, pegs, and pencils etc. are involved. Fine motor skills are very important for any school activity. Properly developed fine motor muscles add to the quality of the end result, as well as the time needed to complete it. Fine motor muscles are involved when your child gets dressed (zips, buttons, and shoe laces), when your child is at school (cutting, pencil grip, threading etc.) and even when they are playing (construction blocks and dressing their Barbie etc.). It’s important to strengthen those tiny hand muscles by doing activities with pegs or squirting water guns, etc.
What is Numeracy Development?
Believe it or not, your children have been learning
numeracy concepts from their very first day on
Earth, how many times did you count their little
fingers and toes?
Numeracy involves a wide variety of topics
including comparing size, forming patterns, as well as shape and colour recognition.
These skills form an important part of problem solving.
Playing outside with objects, sand, and water all help to develop a child’s numeracy skills.
What is Language Development?
Language development is something that occurs passively in toddlers, for the most part. It’s something they do without realising it!
Young children are like little language sponges, soaking up their vocabulary from the world around them (especially when Mom or Dad have let an unfortunate word slip). Language development is also something that should be encouraged at home! The more words and concepts you expose your child to, the greater their vocabulary and world knowledge.
What is Working Memory?
Working Memory is what your child uses to retain information for a short period of time (2 - 3 seconds) so that it can be used for processing.
Working Memory is like the outbox of your email, it hangs around until it has been processed (e.g. following instructions, responding correctly during a conversation, listening and reading comprehension, organisation). Working memory is ‘In Action Memory’.
What is Sensory Processing?
Sensory Processing (or integration) is your child’s ability to accurately use the senses to interpret their environment (including their body).
The way that the sensory input is received by the brain will determine your child’s behaviour.
It is therefore important to expose your child to as many different sensory stimuli as possible as this helps them to better understand their environment, and then control their reaction accordingly.
When children are able to adequately process the sensory input of their environment they are better able to give an appropriate response, which you will notice in their ability to complete tasks, behave themselves, and control their emotions.
Clay, ‘goo’, and different textured objects all help to develop a child’s sensory processing.
Sensory stimulation is not always fun for the parents as it can be very messy, depending on which material is being used, but we promise it’s worth the clean-up!
The senses in a nutshell:
Visual sense: Eyes
Auditory Sense: Ears
Gustatory Sense: Taste
Olfactory Sense: Smell
Tactile sense: Touch
Proprioceptive Sense: Body awareness
Vestibular sense: Movement and Balance
What is Midline Crossing?
Picture an imaginary line that cuts you down the middle from your head to your feet, splitting you into a left side and right side. That is your midline, and it’s very important that you can cross to both sides with your arms and legs.
When you cross your left or right arm/leg to the opposite side of your body you are crossing your midline.
Midline crossing is very important and effects your child’s ability to write (writing occurs from left to right requiring them to cross the midline) and read (visual tracking from left to right is impeded if the child has not learnt to cross the midline).
It’s something that, as adults, we don’t really think much about, but is actually an important skill to master.
What is Bilateral Coordination?
Bilateral Coordination means using both hands at
the same time, which requires both spheres of the
brain to work together.
Demonstrating the ability to master bilateral
coordination means that both sides of the brain are communicating effectively. There are different types of bilateral coordination; e.g. when both hands work in symmetry, or when the dominant hand completes the task and the other hand provides a supporting role.
Bilateral coordination is closely linked to the vestibular system and the body’s ability to interpret balance and movement.
Those are some of the most basic skills in a nutshell!