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