There are several skills and abilities we expect our children to develop as they grow older and mature. Most of these skills can be seen to develop in a sequential pattern. This means that a child will usually develop some skills before he or she can develop newer ones. However, it is important to realise that children don’t develop these skills on a set timetable. For example, some babies start walking as young as 9 months, while others don’t take their first steps until 15 months.
Children develop skills in five main areas of development:
This is the ability to learn, as well as to think through and solve problems. Itcan range from simply exploring the environment with touch for toddlers to solving complex maths problems or puzzles in older children.
hThis is the ability to interact with, and relate to others. It includes the ability to communicate effectively, behave appropriately in different groups and settings, and also the ability to understand, express and control feelings and emotions.
This is the ability to understand and use language. For babies, this can simply using sounds to communicate with carers, while for older children and young people it will involve using words and language structures in grammatically correct and appropriate ways.
Fine motor skills refers to the ability to use small muscles, particularly in the hands, for tasks such as manipulating small objects. Gross motor skills refers to activities involving bigger movements usually using the larger muscle groups in the body.
This is the ability to handle everyday tasks, such as dressing, washing and certain types of play.
It has to be remembered that each child is an individual and may meet developmental milestones a little earlier or later than others. As well as being a unique individual, each child is also developing in a unique environment. This means that they will develop at different rates and in different ways. However, even knowing this, it can still be upsetting or even worrying to see other children passing milestones before your own child does.
Not meeting these types of milestones isn’t always a sign that your child has a developmental problem. If it turns out he/she does have a delay, however, getting supports and services early may help the child catch up more quickly, or find ways to overcome any barriers in their life.