Play Years : Developmental Milestones

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A major step in the life of any child is the beginning of the school phase. Children as young as two years old are now being put into playschools where they start learning basic social skills as well as academic ones. Psychologists term the stage from two years to five years as preschool years or ‘play years’. In this stage, the concept of play is very important as it helps the child to understand the social structure of their peer group as well as develop their language skills. The neurological changes in the brain, during this time, greatly influence the processes of language. Children have the urge to talk continuously or communicate with the people around which helps them to develop better speaking skills, grammar structure as well as develop a wide range of vocabulary. Their cognitive and motor skills are also more developed which allows them to participate in as many play activities as they want. Children between the ages of 3 to 5, develop a concept called ‘theory of mind’. It is the understanding that other people may think differently from them and they can judge their thoughts. Emotional skills also develop during this phase where a child who is three years old may be prone to tantrums or uncontrollable anger but a child at five years old is able to control and better express his/her emotions.

Development Milestones in Play Years

Now going back to the assessment or observation of children at this stage for any areas of concern, we can look at certain developmental milestones. I would like to reiterate that the below checklist is only a guideline towards understanding if your child has an area of concern. I would urge you to consult a child psychologist or clinical psychologist if you have any concerns regarding your child’s mental and intellectual health. Please observe your child over a period of six months to see if the issues are still continuing and then you can consult your doctor. You can use the checklist below as an initial guideline to help you with your observations.

Developmental tasksExpected AgeCompleted
Walks up steps by stepping one foot on each.4 years
Picks up small objects easily4 years
Unbuttons4 years
Tells stories4 years
Speaks in completed sentences4 years
He/she knows his/her full name, age, gender4 years
Speech is intelligible 4 years
Dresses oneself4 years
Feeds self4 years
Toilet trained4 years
Gets along with other children4 years
Imitates adults doing simple tasks4 years
Build tower of ten blocks 4 years
Copies a circle4 years
Matches object to color4 years
Hops and skips on one foot5 years
Catches a ball with hands5 years
Brushes teeth5 years
Follows 3 step-commands4-5 years
Recognizes shapes5 years
Points to four colors5 years
Copies square, triangle, circle5 years

*Partially taken from the ‘Academic Problems in primary school children enrolled under SSA-Karnataka’

Speech and language milestones in Infants
Toddler Milestones
Areas of Development in Children

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Areas of Development in Children

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Every living being goes through stages of development and we, humans, are no different. We are continuously changing and growing right from the time of conception till death.  Our physical, cognitive and emotional aspects are gradually evolving as we grow older. Sometimes, we notice these changes and at other points, it happens without us seeing them. The measurement or understanding of these changes is what helps us understand if there are any areas of concern we need to consider especially for children. Our successful development at an adult stage is dependent on how well we are supported at childhood. Therefore the appropriate kind of support that is given to a child right from infancy is extremely important. There are of course, aspects of the developing brain that we cannot control but the kind of support that is given to ensure that successful cognitive development is taking place, is definitely under one’s control.

With the right support childs development can be taken care

I would like to focus on a few areas of development that I believe are important for young children to develop appropriately:

Physical development

Refers to the growth of one’s bone structure, muscles and other parts of the body. The body naturally develops but is influenced by factors of nutrition, race, culture, parental health and economic background. Strong physical development is affected by the kind of food intake, the background of the child and his/her family, experiences of the parents, financial background of the family and the amount of stimuli in the environment.

Motor development

Refers to the development of gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the use of larger muscles which help in performing activities like sitting, walking, running, climbing and so on. Fine motor skills involve the use of smaller muscle groups like picking objects, writing, buttoning and so on. The development of these skills ensure that the child will be able to perform the necessary functions at the appropriate ages. The under development of these skills may lead to certain issues in academics as well as the social environment.

Cognitive development

Looks at the development of the quality and quantity of mental activities like perception, thinking, judgment, reasoning, problem solving and so on. There are many psychological theories that explain the different stages of cognitive development which can be addressed specifically later. It is important to understand the stages of cognitive development to appropriately support the child in order for him/her to be successful in academics as well as social situations.

Emotional development

Refers to the changes in the child’s emotions expressed and managed in a variety of situations. Emotions mobilizes the organism’s resources and energizes it to meet emergency situations. A child may or may not be able to accurately express their emotions and most of the time; it is expressed in the form of behavior. This form of expression is what causes a rift between parent and child as neither is able to understand the other. Children can suffer from emotional challenges which affect their overall social skills and relationships with people.

Social development

Deals with the changes in behavior that a child may go through due to the influence and expectations of society. The child is ‘socialised’ into performing various functions appropriately like for example, the stereotyping of boys and girls in terms of their behavior, emotional expression, roles in situations and so on. This form of development helps the child understand what is appropriate behavior when in a social situation and helps him/her to develop various societal attitudes. Play is an important medium for social development in children. It is a voluntary activity that allows the child to engage in without thinking about the results. When you allow your child to engage in various play activities, it gives them a platform to use their imagination and also develop certain cognitive faculties.

Speech and language milestones in Infants
Toddler Milestones

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Toddler Milestones

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Development is a journey where each child moves forward in a series of steps. Early milestones are important when one is assessing a child for any areas of concern and their achievement holds true even when the child is older. I would like to continue from my earlier post on infant development and the milestones to look out for. These milestones are guidelines to help you observe your child as he/she goes through these stages or even if you have an older child and they have not successfully completed these stages. Please use the below checklist as a way of understanding whether there is a need for a further evaluation of your child’s cognitive, motor, social and emotional skills. It is always best to consult a pediatrician or a clinical psychologist for further assessment.

We are now going to look at the major developmental tasks and speech milestones in the toddler phase. Do not worry if your child has not completed one or two tasks but look at the overall picture of his/her development. Please use the below checklist only as a guideline to observe your child and if you find any concerns, do visit your doctor today.

Developmental tasks Expected age Completed
Walks well without support 2 -3 years  
Carries toy while walking 2-3 years  
Squats to pick up a toy 13 – 18 months  
Recognizes self in the mirror 2-3 years  
Stacks two objects or blocks 13-18 months  
Refers to self by name 2-3 years  
Feeds self using a spoon or own hands 2-3 years  
Drinks from glass unassisted 2-3 years  
Occupies self in play 2-3 years  
Goes up on steps using two feet at a time 3 years  
Walks on tiptoe 3 years  
Runs easily 3 years  
Unwraps candy 3 years  
Pulls off socks as part of undressing 3 years  
Helps adults put away toys when asked 3 years  
Turns pages one at a time 3 years  

*Table taken from the “Academic Problems in primary school children enrolled under SSA-Karnataka”

Speech and language milestones in the toddler phase:

Expected Age Receptive language Expressive language Completed
13-15
months
Follows 1-step
command
without gesture
Points to 1 body part; Immature
jargoning; Can say up to 5 words
 
16-18
months
Point to 1
picture;
Points to 3 body
parts and to self
Mature jargoning; Up to 25 words;
Giant words: “all gone, thank-you”
 
19-24
months
Begins to
understand
pronouns;
Follows 2 step
commands;
Points to 5-10
pictures
Up to 50 words;
2-word sentences;
Early telegraphic speech,
for example: “Give water”, “Want mama”
 
25-30
months
Understands “just one”;
Points to parts
of pictures
Uses pronouns appropriately;
uses plural words;
speech is 50% intelligible
 
3 years Knows opposites;
follows 2
prepositions
250+ words;
3-word sentences;
Answers “what” and “where” questions;
speech is 75% intelligible
 

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