Raising well-developed children in every aspect of their being may just be one of the most challenging phases in the lives of parents and teachers . As an early childhood educator myself, I could say that child development definitely plays a big part in my responsibilities. As such, I have decided to further research on how both parents and teachers alike can contribute to a healthy development for children.
How can we promote a healthy child development? A healthy development in children does not only pertain in caring for the medical aspect, but as well as the cognitive, socio-emotional, speech and language, fine motor and gross motor areas of developments. Becoming aware on how development occurs at each stage may bring light to enhancing your developmental plan for your child.
As child development is a vast topic, I have taken the liberty in consolidating key information which hopefully may be of help for you. In this article, I hope to bring more focus to how each aspect undergoes development and the necessary steps to be taken in improving this.
The Five Main Areas of Child Development
Before we can establish ways in promoting a healthy development in children, it is also helpful to be aware of the five different areas and the changes they are undergoing. That way, it will be easier to implement the right course of action as well.
In summary, here the five main areas of child development:
- Cognitive Development
- Socio-Emotional Development
- Speech and Language Development
- Fine Motor Skill Development
- Gross Motor Skill Development
1. Cognitive Development
The cognitive development involves brain activity in your child. It covers the different ways of learning and solving problems.
2. Socio-Emotional Development
Also known as social and emotional development, this basically touches on your child’s ability to recognize theirs and others’ feelings, as well as the ability to interact with the people around them. In this developmental stage, your children’s idea of what helping is or being comfortable around strangers may emerge.
3. Speech and Language Development
This basically captures the children’s ability to express themselves using words, and likewise their ability to understand what others are telling them. If you have older children, they are able to express themselves in simple sentences, while for the younger ones, this is when their first words would start emerging.
4. Fine Motor Skill Development
This pertains to your children’s ability to put their smaller muscles to use, particularly in their hands. This includes development of writing skills, and even their ability to open doors or the lids of their water bottles.
5 .Gross Motor Skill Development
Gross motor involves the usage of muscles used for bigger movements such as the ability to crawl, walk, jump, hop and skip.
Useful Tips in Promoting Healthy Child Development
Healthy Pre-Natal Care
Your child’s healthy development begins as early as the time of conception. Ensuring regular check-ups and taking careful measures throughout the mother’s pregnancy is a good start in promoting your child’s healthy development journey.
It is said that children learn best through playing. This gives them a chance to express themselves in various creative ways. Apart from playing with other children, spending some play time with your own children is advantageous since they will feel valued by you as a parent. At the same time, it will also strengthen your relationship with them.
It also serves as a gateway for them to develop critical thinking, do things on their own and to learn from their own mistakes.
Consistency in Building Parent-Child Relationship
For your children, the most important relationship they have is with you – their parents. Teachers and other carers also play an important role.
Since children also learn by imitation, the relationship you have with other people (e.g. your partner, other family members, or your friends) may have an influence in your child’s development particularly in the aspects of socio-emotional and speech and language.
Fostering a Positive Relationship with the Child’s Neighborhood and Environment
The kind of environment and the group of people surrounding your children as they grow up also play a crucial role in their development. You would want to ensure that as your children grow up, they are situated in a place where it is safe and harmonious.
Promoting a Healthy Eating Lifestyle
Children tend to be picky eaters especially when you’re trying to feed them their vegetables. Starting them with a healthy eating habit as early as possible is advantageous since it is highly likely to aid in developing their sense of taste, hence making them more accustomed to the taste eventually. Having a healthy eating lifestyle is highly likely to enhance their growth and development physically.
If feeding them nutritious food really comes off as a challenge, you may come up with tweaking your children’s meal into something creative or something that will make it more appealing for them.
General Advice for Promoting a Healthy Child Development
Generally speaking, a healthy development for your children aims to ensure that all of its 5 stages are met and satisfied. Although there are suggested timelines for some skills to emerge at a certain developmental stage, it is important to also take into consideration that each child has their own pacing of developing and the age when it will occur may vary per child.
There are many things to consider when it comes to child development, but it is worth noting that the most important factor in bringing out the best in your children’s development is your active involvement as a parent, teacher or carer. Your presence and support are highly encouraged as children seek their reassurance from none other than you.
What are some fine motor skills I can make my 4 year old daughter practice so I can improve her grip on things? Some of the most helpful fine motor skills are as simple as lacing activities with small-medium sized holes or dropping marbles in a plastic bottle with a small-medium sized mouth opening. Not only will it enhance their fine motor skills, but at the same time it can practice them to lengthen their attention span.
How will I know if my son’s development is too delayed? He’s almost 12 months old but he is still unable to say the words “mama” or “dada”. This milestone usually occurs between 10-12 months, so technically your son is still within the range. Remember that the occurrence of developmental milestones may vary per age. However, you still know your child best and if you strongly feel that there is indeed some delay, you may consult with a developmental pediatrician or a child specialist for further assessment.