Living and learning go hand in hand at every stage of life, from birth to death. There is, however, nothing that truly compares to the first few years of our lives, during which we first learn how to walk, talk, interact with other people and our environments, and process how these things make us feel. Those first few years of our lives are the most formative years of our lives. Even though children advance at varying rates, there are a number of important benchmarks that each child should reach at a certain point in their development. Early intervention services can be provided in the event that a deficiency is identified, with the goal of attempting to mitigate or control the negative consequences of a possible intellectual or developmental disability.
A child must either obtain a qualifying diagnosis or demonstrate a 25% delay or greater in one or more of the five areas of child development in order to be eligible for early intervention. Either of these conditions must be met in order to qualify. Physical, cognitive, linguistic, socioemotional, and adaptive capabilities are some examples of these. Let’s take a quick look at each of these areas, discuss what they comprise, and go over some things to keep an eye out for.
The capacity to mentally digest information, also known as the ability to think, reason, and comprehend what is going on around you, is referred to as the cognitive domain of development. Cognitive development can be broken down into four separate phases, as outlined by the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget.
During the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development, which occurs between the ages of 0 and 2 years, human beings are virtually restricted to perceiving the world on a level that is simply sensory. And the grownup pokes fun at you with a silly face? Have some fun with what you’re seeing. You are being teased with a toy, right? Make a grab for it.
When a kid reaches the preoperational stage between the ages of two and six years old, he or she will start to incorporate language into their evaluation of the people and environments around them. However, in the vast majority of situations, logical functioning is not quite there yet – the youngster may still have difficulty “putting it all together.”
A child should have reached the concrete operational stage (7-11 years) prior to reaching puberty. This is the stage in which he or she is able to process events and information at face value, but will generally not be able to accommodate abstracts or hypotheticals. Puberty is the stage in which a child begins to process abstracts and hypotheticals.
It is generally agreed that a person has entered the formal operational stage once they have reached the age of 12 and are able to do the complex mental gymnastics that make humans so extraordinary. Thinking in the abstract, such as visualizing hypothetical events, formulating plans, and sorting through various points of view, eventually becomes a routine component of interacting with one’s own world.
The senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, and proprioception, which refers to the body’s understanding of its direction in space), gross motor abilities (big motions requiring vast muscles), and fine motor skills are all a part of this domain (involving small muscles, particularly of the fingers and hands).
The progression of human physical ability follows a directional pattern, moving from the center outward and from the top down. As a baby develops, they will first have the capacity to swivel its head and sit in an upright position. As they grow into toddlers, they will then be able to reach, grab, and eventually walk and run (2-3 years). The infant should have an innate ability to respond and react to stimuli in his or her physical environment throughout the entire process.
It is possible that the capacity to understand, apply, and manipulate language is the single most potent skill that a person can cultivate. Phonology is the process of turning the individual sounds that make up a language into words; syntax is the process of putting those words into sentences in accordance with the rules and conventions of the language; semantics is the study of meaning and nuances of meaning; and pragmatics is the study of how people actually use language (how the language is applied in practical and interpersonal communication). The rate at which a person’s verbal communication skills mature can vary greatly from one person to the next; but, by the age of two, the majority of toddlers are capable of at least telegraphic speech, which consists of brief words conveying the essentials of a want or need.
The ability to take care of oneself independently as one grows older is referred to as adaptive development. This includes the ability to eat, drink, use the restroom, bathe, and dress oneself without assistance. In addition to this, it requires being aware of one’s surroundings and the potential risks that they may present in order to keep oneself safe and protected. Before the child’s fourth birthday, it is expected that they will have made great progress in the aforementioned categories.
In order for us to actually thrive, we need to first learn how to cohabit peacefully with others and then within ourselves. A child’s growth in the socioemotional domain includes the acquisition of the skills necessary to successfully regulate his or her own internal emotional state and to interpret the social signs of other people. Strong feelings can be tamed or communicated in an appropriate manner; confrontations can be resolved without resorting to violence; and we can cultivate empathy for other people.
- A baby should be able to react to facial expressions and reciprocate by the time they are six months old.
- By the end of the first year, the individual should have begun to demonstrate distinct preferences in terms of likes and dislikes, as well as recognition of the familiar against the unfamiliar.
- A kid should be able to engage in play that is similar to that of his or her classmates by the age of two. Although each youngster participates in their own unique activity, they are interested in each other’s pursuits and are at ease in each other’s company.
- At the age of three, a child should have begun to establish an awareness of themselves, as well as the ability to articulate their feelings.
- When the child is four years old, they should be able to collaborate with others, follow basic rules, and control their emotions without resorting to aggressiveness or tantrums.