Posted by: Diane Fiorentino, Community Impact and Ready.Set.READ! Staff Specialist
Prior to joining United Way of Berks County, I had the joy of educating preschoolers and elementary school students for nearly 30 years. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with hundreds of children and their parents, and I’ve seen first-hand that the first years of a child’s life are the most important and have a long-term impact on their development. When it comes to nurturing a child’s development, there are five key things a parent or caregiver needs to know:
- All children are unique and develop at their own rate.
It’s important to remember that there are general developmental milestones that children reach at their own pace. Encourage your child to reach the next milestone, but don’t force it. If you have concerns about your child’s development, consult your pediatrician.
- It is important for parents to learn to focus on the child’s physical development.
The physical development of a child is separated into two components, large motor skills and fine motor skills. The large motor skills are formed first, where infants begin to strengthen their center core, arms, and legs. The fine motor skills begin to sharpen as the child gets older. They gain a better understanding of the use of their hands, fingers and toes. As the child grows their fine motor skills will be sharpened even further as they learn to use a pair of scissors and hold a utensil.
- Learning styles are different and can vary with age.
It’s important for parents to be aware of the different learning styles of children and the learning styles that vary with age. For example, a child from birth to two years old learns through their senses, while children ages two to seven learn through thinking. Once a child reaches the ages of seven to twelve, they are at school age and learn through the classroom setting. Children can learn visually, verbally, logically/through mathematics, auditory/musically, physically through their senses, socially, or solitarily.
- The importance of social and emotional development.
Children need to learn how to interact with others in order to enhance their social skills. This can be done through playing with others or alone. When children play they learn about the world around them which in turn helps to prepare them how to act in school and ultimately in the “real” world. Through socializing children learn about their own emotions. They also learn to regulate their emotions and how to respect others.
- The importance of communication and language from an early age.
Communication and language are learned from an early age. Infants learn language, both verbal and non-verbal, even before birth. While in the womb infants learn language through hearing the voice of the mother and becoming familiar with her words and how she says them. Infants need to hear language completely and in sentences. As the infant grows they begin to say their first words and begin to use them as a foundation of their vocabulary as they grow.
To find additional resources for parents, visit Resources for Parents and Caregivers
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