Part 1 on Child Development

  • Tired of picking toys or items off of the floor after your 13 month old drops them from their high chair tray?
  • Wondering why your 2 year old ALWAYS has to dump out ALL of the toys?
  • Losing patience with your 3 year old that insists on trying to zip his own coat but only results in getting it stuck?
  • Are you amazed at the words your 4 year old uses to explain what he is doing?

These are all perfectly normal actions and behaviors for children at those ages.  Babies through kindergarten age children are gaining new knowledge at an amazing rate.  Each new experience is a learning experience.  They are adding knowledge in the areas of social relationships, emotional strength, physical abilities, language skills, creative and artistic skills, and all areas of academic content (math, science, the world around them).  Each new piece of knowledge is added to the blocks of knowledge they already have.  And each child reacts or responds to new learning in their own unique way.

In early childhood, we look at the different ‘milestones’ babies and children achieve as normal development.  Some milestones are crawling, walking, toileting, writing their name.  Commonly,  early childhood development is categorized into 6 different ‘domains’.  They are: Social/Emotional development; Approaches to Learning; Language and Literacy development; Creativity and the Arts; Cognitive development; and Physical and Motor development.

Let’s take a closer look at the 13 month old child that LOVES to drop things off of their high chair tray. What exactly are they learning?

  • Social/Emotional …        they are engaging in an activity that requires a response from their caregiver – this demonstrates trust and emotional security; they are also developing an awareness of themselves and what they can do.
  • Approaches to Learning ….       this area of development addresses a child’s curiosity, risk-taking, imagination, persistence and reflection.  A child that continues to drop a toy over the side of the tray is:
    • curious about where it went – especially if they look down at the floor, 
    • showing a lot of persistence when they do it over and over and over!
  • Language and Literacy …  young children learn very quickly how to get our attention through vocalizations!  They may start to say thinks like ‘daa’ for ‘down’ or ‘taa’ meaning their toy went down on the floor.  Communication is a two-way exchange.  You may make a comment, the child will look at you and drop the toy again. 
  • Creativity and the Arts …   children are masters of the ‘banging band’!  The child may bang the toy on the tray awhile and drop it on the floor to hear a different sound.
  • Cognitive Development …  an infant/young child’s day is FILLED with new cognitive experiences.  The baby that drops the toy off the tray is learning about ‘cause and effect’, hearing different sounds, and spatial concepts. 
  • Physical and Motor Development …  they grab, bang, drop, peer over the edge of the tray.  All of these actions use different muscle strength and coordination.  A young baby (6 months old) may be able to grasp an item but not consistently bang it.  An older infant (13 months) can not only bang the item but can release it.                                                                                      

Next week Part 2: How do caregivers support development?