Little Kids Daycare Center
While some children may know the alphabet at age two, others may not be ready until age three. The same goes with drawing pictures or any other activity.
The reason is that all children grow and develop, for the most part, in the same order but go through stages at their own pace. Developmental milestones are behaviors or physical skills seen in children as they grow and develop. Drawing, coloring, learning songs, and learning new words are all considered milestones. The milestones are different for each age range. There is a normal range in which a child may reach each milestone.
As early educators, it is our duty to know the stages children go through at different ages. It is also our responsibility to support parents regarding these stages and make sure they are aware that there can be a six-to-eight-month window for development.
Parents will sometimes compare children to other children they know who are the same age. This may put pressure on them and may pass this on to their child, giving the child more pressure to perform skills that they might not be ready to perform just yet. Knowing the stages children go through during the preschool years will help you plan activities in two ways. First, the knowledge will help you to plan activities that are appropriate for the age range of preschoolers. Second, it will plan for the level of development that the preschoolers are currently in. Some of your preschoolers may still be developing their older toddler skills or already be developing their pre-kindergarten skills.
By being aware of development, educators and caregivers can understand what types of environments children need. Providing the right environment can help children develop self-esteem while also explaining some of their behaviors. Understanding early childhood development can help you more effectively support your young ones, but more importantly, it helps children develop a strong sense of confidence and determination.
Early childhood education professionals need to know how to use screening tools when they suspect a delay may be present, and how to support parents in seeking help.
Catching potential underlying causes early can allow parents and caregivers to get support for their child and better understand how to adjust to their needs. Certain therapies and interventions will be much more effective early in a child’s life, when their brain is most adaptable.
It’s a common misperception that early childhood education is only about learning basic skills. It’s so much more than that, it’s a time when children learn critical social and emotional skills and a partnership is formed between the child, their parents and the teacher. When this is done successfully, it lays the groundwork for it to continue throughout the child’s education.
Most childhood education specialists claim that young children learn best when they’re not pushed too hard, they have an opportunity to interact with their peers, and their parents and instructors treat them kindly. Likewise, children learn best when instruction and educational activities are only a small portion of their days.
Children taught at an early age usually benefit in the following ways: improved social skills, less need for special education instruction during subsequent school years, better grades, and enhanced attention spans. Also, some researchers have concluded that young children enrolled in preschool programs usually graduate from high school, attend college, have fewer behavioral problems, and do not become involved with crime in their adolescent and young adult years. During the first three years of a child’s life, essential brain and neural development occurs. Therefore, children greatly benefit by receiving education before kindergarten.
Basic Preschooler abilities– 2 to 4 years
- Able to draw a circle and square
- Able to draw stick figures with two to three features for people
- Able to skip
- Balances better, may begin to ride a bicycle
- Begins to recognize written words, reading skills start
- Catches a bounced ball
- Enjoys doing most things independently, without help
- Enjoys rhymes and word play
- Hops on one foot
- Rides tricycle well
- Starts school
- Understands size concepts
- Understands time conceptsSay their name and age
- Speak 250 to 500 words
- Answer simple questions
- Speak in sentences of five to six words, and speak in complete sentences by age 4
- Speak clearly, although they may not be fully comprehensible until age 4
- Tell stories
The list below shows the key abilities that we can expect from 3-4 years old in seven development areas.
· Enjoys singing and doing fingerplays with others.
· Greets familiar people.
· Engages in simple group games.
· Helps with clean-up activities.
· Take turns.
· Gives attention to stories for 10 minutes.
· Plays interactive games.
· Plays with peers with minimal conflict.
· Interacts with peers in a socially appropriate manner most of the time.
· Interacts with adults in a cooperative, socially appropriate manner most of the time.
· Asks permission to use items belonging to others with minimal reminders.
· Draws faces.
· Makes random marks on paper.
· Makes controlled scribbles on paper.
· Makes basic shapes.
· Combines circles and/or squares with crossed lines.
· Makes suns, animals, trees, flowers.
· Can sort by two different colors.
· Understands three prepositions (from, about, with, etc.)
· Recalls familiar objects.
· Counts to five by rote.
· Classifies objects by categories.
· Can match identical pictures.
· Can select the different object from a combination of 2 alike and 1 different.
· Counts 3 objects.
· Can match 2 colors.
· Knows own gender.
· Able to recover from anger or temper tantrum and be cooperative.
· Separates from parents without reluctance.
· Verbalizes emotions he or she is feeling.
· Expresses displeasure with words rather than physical aggression.
· Maintains an appropriate, stable temperament most of the time.
· Beginning to differentiate between fact and fantasy.
· Recognizes emotions in others.
Physical Development: Large/Gross Motor Skills
· Jumps over obstacles when running.
· Jumps down from object 6″ to 8″ off the ground.
· Catches a 6 to 8 inch ball using arms.
· Balances on one foot for 4-5 seconds.
· Hops on one foot at least 2 times.
· Walks up and down stairs unassisted, alternating feet.
· Throws a ball over-handed and under-handed.
Physical Development: Small/Fine Motor Skills
· Draws or copies vertical and horizontal lines.
· Draw or copy a complete circle.
· Builds with blocks and other building toys.
· Strings 1″ beads.
· Cuts paper into two pieces with scissors.
· Draws or copies two lines that cross.
· Puts together 9-piece (or larger) puzzles.
Communication and Language Development
· Give your own first and last name and age.
· When given a choice, names preferred object or activity.
· Begins asking purposeful questions.
· Uses complete sentences consistently.
· Tells of a simple experience.
· Sings a simple song.
· Asks a variety of questions using “who”, “what”, “where”, etc.
· Tells a story using pictures.
· Assigns roles or takes assigned roles in pretend play.
· Takes on characteristics and actions of role play.
· Uses particular props during pretend play.
· Can pretend using imaginary objects.
· Uses language for creating and sustaining plots.
· Uses elaborate themes, ideas, details.
As with all milestones, remember there can be a six to eight-month window. This means that children may have these skills now or are still developing. We are all unique and human development is unique for each child.
If you feel your child is delayed to meet a milestone, or isn’t making the same progress as their peers, it’s natural to worry. However, it’s important to remember that for every video of a child’s first steps you see on Facebook, there are many other children who are still barely pulling themselves up.
That said, it’s also important to listen to your anxieties and seek support and help if you are concerned. There are various professionals available to listen to and support you in your worries.
If you are worried about your baby’s progress and development, it’s worth discussing it with your doctor or maternal health nurse. They will be able to answer your questions.
Remember, there is no penalty for being cautious about your growing child, and if there is an issue acting early can make all the difference.
If your child is meeting the milestones, his or her development is on track. If your child continually misses milestones or reaches a milestone but then loses that new ability, he or she may need extra help from your doctor or a specialist.
Your child’s doctor or a public health nurse will check for certain milestones at routine checkups. But it’s also important for you to learn what milestones to watch for. Look for sources of information and support nearby, such as public health clinics, parent groups, or child development programs.
Children usually move in a natural and predictable way from one milestone to the next. But each child grows and gains skills at his or her own pace. Some children may be advanced in one area, such as language, but behind in another, such as sensory and motor development.
Thank you for reading!
Julie I, RECE
Preschool Educator, Little Kids Daycare Center, West Oak Trails