Watching Atlas learn and make new discoveries is one of the greatest joys of being his mother. I love working with him every day to teach him new things. As I plan our activities (which honestly, is usually the night before or the morning of – trying to get better at planning sooner), I always try to incorporate as many developmental areas as possible. This helps to promote well-rounded development and gives him the opportunity to practice a variety of skills. This also aids in his learning by activating several learning styles and allowing him to receive the information in several ways.
In this post, I’m outlining the five major areas of child development and how to incorporate them into children’s activities. In upcoming posts, I will give more detail about each area and examples of specific activities that enrich each developmental area.
Cognitive Development is all about the process of thinking. This includes problem solving, memory, planning, critical thinking, and the process of learning itself. While all activities have a cognitive component because thinking is required, there are some that especially foster cognitive development.
To incorporate more cognitive skills into your activities, try using puzzles, memory games, sorting and sequencing.
Motor Skill Development
Motor Skill Development encompasses gross motor and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are used to do large movements such as sitting, standing, walking, running, and riding a bike. Fine motor skills are those that use the hands, including pinching, writing, squeezing, using utensils and more.
Adding motor skills to activities is so much fun! Try tossing bean bags into a bucket to sort by color, using tongs to transfer small items, finger painting and stringing beads.
Much like Cognitive Development, Language Development is involved in most activities. Even before children are able to speak, they are developing a word bank based on what they hear. Receptive Language refers to the words that a child hears and understands, while Expressive Language refers to the words that they are able to say.
Remember, although a child may not be able to talk yet, they are always listening and working to gain understanding. As soon as your baby is born, talk, read and sing as much as possible!
Adaptive Skill Development
Adaptive Skills are practical, everyday skills that we need to care for ourselves and function in the environment. For children (depending on age), this can include getting dressed, feeding themselves, and understanding dangers such as a hot stove or busy street.
Helping children to develop adaptive skills builds independence and confidence. Allow them to help dress themselves, pick out their clothing and prepare meals with you. Reading books that feature specific situations is also a great way to promote adaptive skill development. If the book pictures a busy street, ask your child how to navigate the situation. Use it as a teaching moment if they do not know.
Social Emotional Development
Social Emotional Development encompasses a child’s ability to develop and maintain relationships with others as well as how they express and manage their own emotions and respond to the emotions of others. Social Emotional Development has to be taught and constantly practiced, not unlike any other developmental area.
Social Emotional Development can be taught using books, role play scenarios, discussions, and more. Also, remember that modeling is a powerful way to teach social and emotional skills. Children are always watching adults for cues.
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my upcoming posts where I’ll go into detail about some of my favorite activities in each of these developmental areas.