Children grow, develop, and learn throughout their lives from infancy to adulthood.
Children usually acquire new skills during certain age ranges. For instance, most children learn to walk by the time they are 18 months old, though some start walking at 12 months of age.
These markers of childhood development are called milestones.
Developmental milestones can be categorized by the different skills they represent. Categories include the following:
- Motor Skills – the ability to perform specific large motor skills, such as walking, or fine-motor skills, such as holding a raisin.
- Cognitive Skills – the ability to learn, remember and solve problems. During childhood, learning and information-processing increase in speed, memory becomes increasingly longer, and the capacity for abstract thinking develops until a near-adult level is reached by adolescence.
- Social-Emotional Development - Infants experience happiness, sadness, and anger while other feelings, such as empathy, may require years to develop. Other emotions, like fearfulness, seem to involve a rather sudden reorganization of the child's emotion. The understanding of social rules begins in preschool and continues to develop into adulthood.
- Language Skills - Receptive language, the understanding of others' speech, develops gradually beginning at about 6 months. Expressive language, the production of words, develops rapidly after about 1 year. Expansion of a child’s vocabulary and grammar continues through preschool and school years.
A child’s ability to reach certain milestones is determined primarily by his or her genes. (It is inherited). However, the child’s environment (family, nutrition, family size…etc.) can also impact that pace at which a child develops.
A developmental delay is suspected if a child does not achieve a milestone within his or her age group. If children fail to develop properly they may be unable to reach their full potential. Developmental delays can have future negative effects on your child, which may lead to speech and language difficulties, behavioral problems and learning problems.
It is important to act early if you are concerned about a developmental delay.
Tell your child’s doctor or health care provider if you notice any signs of possible developmental delay. Healthcare professionals and parents can work together as partners to help children grow up healthy and strong.
What is early Childhood Intervention?
The intent of early child intervention is to lay a foundation, in conjunction with the family, to support infants as they grow and mature into healthy individuals. "Healthy" means the best possible outcome the physical, mental, and social functioning and well-being of an individual.