Understanding Children’s Developmental Milestones

Understanding Children’s Developmental Milestones

When becoming a parent for the first time, we all want to ensure that we have the information needed to ensure that our children are on track developmentally. We often do this by comparing our child to other children, whether that be friends or family.

It is important to remember, however, that your child is unique and will probably develop at a different pace to that of their peers. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there are developmental concerns, but may instead mean that your child needs a little longer to establish some skills.

The first five years of a child’s life are a crucial stage in which major developmental milestones are reached. However, it is perfectly normal for children to develop in one area quicker than another. Children do not grow and develop in a linear way, where they move from one phase to another in a straight line.

A great way of describing children’s development is by thinking about a spider web. Children develop in a much more rounded way, where they go off in different directions at different speeds, both of which is entirely normal.

Key Areas of Development

The areas below mentioned are what is referred to in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) as the ‘Prime Areas of Learning’. They are so named as they are vital in laying the foundations for children’s ongoing ability to learn and develop.

For example, children learn to communicate their needs and interests through their relationships with others, by building secure relationships and being exposed to a wide range of experiences that introduce them to language and conversation. The Prime Areas are a fundamental aspect of a broad and balanced foundation for children’s learning. The EYFS guidance states that they are “crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive” (Source: EYFS). 

Communication & Langauge

“Communication & Language development involves giving children the opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves, and to speak and listen in a variety of different situations.”

Communication & Language development starts at the very early stages of life as children use their cry to inform us of what they need. As they continue to grow, this progresses to babbling that eventually merges into singular words. 

Children need access to a rich language environment from a very young age to give them the skills required to develop their ability to speak and express themselves. To achieve this, you should maintain regular interactions with children through conversations, play, and stories. 

You may also find the following resource helpful for parents regarding your child’s speech and language:

Physical Development

“Physical Development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their coordination, control movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity and to make healthy choices concerning food.”

Children of all ages need to be active, but in the first five years of a child’s life, we see considerable developments in this area as they progress from being immobile as newborns to very active toddlers. 

Physical development is hugely important in supporting children’s understanding of the importance of maintaining physical activity throughout their lives and making healthy choices with food and diet.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

“Personal, Social and Emotional Development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups and to have confidence in their own ability.”

Secure and stable relationships is a fundamental part of all our lives. Children need these safe relationships to fulfil their potential in any aspect of their lives. Learning about how to form positive relationships and respect are a crucial part of adulthood, but this is something that is taught to us during our childhood.

Creating a society of resilient young people stems from giving children the knowledge and security they need to manage their feelings effectively and to fully understand how their behaviour and the behaviour of others can affect how others feel.

The Nursery Practitioners Role in Supporting Children’s Development

Our trained Nursery Practitioners have a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with children and are a great first point of contact for any concerns. Where concerns have been noted from a Nursery Practitioner’s perspective, we will always share these with parents at the earliest convenience and work alongside parents to support children both at the nursery and at home. 

If you have any concerns about your child’s development, you should speak with your child’s Key Person/Worker to see if this is something that is also a concern at the nursery.

You Know Your Child

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You know their likes, dislikes, comforts, capabilities, vulnerabilities, and overall ability. However, there are a range of professionals, including your child’s nursery, as well as Health Visitors and Children’s Centres who can offer you advice and support on an array of subjects that affect children in the first five years of their lives. You should not feel worried about approaching any of these services where needed.

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