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Developmental milestones

                             
A milestone of development refers to the age at which most children should have reached a certain stage of development such as walking alone by 18 months, sitting unsupported by 8 months, or smiling by 2 months. Milestones develop in a sequential fashion. This means that a child needs to develop some skills before he or she can develop new skills. For example, children must first learn to crawl and to pull up to a standing position before they are able to walk. Each milestone that a child acquires builds on the last milestone developed.

Although children develop through a generally predictable sequence of steps and milestones, they may not proceed through these steps in the same way or at the same time. Every child is unique. A child's development is also greatly influenced by factors in his environment and the experiences he has. The information in this section explains what child development experts believe what an average child might achieve within a given year. Please consider what you read in the context of your child's unique development.

Development is the gaining of skills in all aspects of the child’s life. The different types of development are often split into four areas:


Physical development: this refers to physical changes in the body and involves changes in weight, height, bone thickness, gross motor, fine motor, vision, hearing, and perceptual development. As each physical change occurs, the child gains new abilities. During the first year, physical development mainly involves the infant co-ordinating motor skills. The infant repeats motor actions which serve to build strength and motor co-ordination.
  • Gross motor development (using large muscles) refers to improvement of skills and control of the large muscles of the legs, arms, back and shoulders which are used in walking, running, sitting, hopping, and climbing.

  • Fine motor development (precise use of muscles) refers to use of the small muscles of the fingers and hands for activities such as picking up small objects, holding a spoon, turning pages in a book, or using a crayon to draw.

  • Vision, hearing, and perceptual development.

Social and emotional development: the expression of feelings about self and others describe emotional development. Learning to relate to others is social development. Emotional and social development are often described and grouped together because they are closely interrelated growth patterns. Feelings of trust, fear, confidence, pride, friendship, and humor are all part of social-emotional development.

Other emotional traits are self concept and self esteem. Learning to trust and show affection to others is part of social-emotional development.  The child’s relationship to a trusting and caring adult is a foundation of emotional development and personality development. Furthermore, when a child has been neglected, rejected, and does not feel secure, he has difficulty developing skills to socialize with others.

It signifies the development of a child’s identity and self-image, the development of relationship and feelings about him or herself and learning the skills to live in society with other people. This is his ability to interact with others, including helping himself and self control.


Cognitive development: refers to the ways children think, develop language, solve problems, and gain knowledge. Identifying colours, completing maze, knowing the difference between one and many, and knowing how things are similar are examples of cognitive tasks. As children gain understanding and meaning of the world, their cognitive development can be observed in the way they play, use language, interact with others, and construct objects and materials. This is the child’s ability to learn and solve problems. It also involves learning the skills of understanding, memory and concentration.


Communication and speech development: this is the child’s ability to both understand and use language and use this ability in learning to communicate with friends, family and all others.


Many children will have reached that stage of development much earlier, but what matters is whether a child has reached it by the milestone age. The important thing to remember is that all children develop at different rates and may be earlier in achieving some aspects of development and later in others.

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