As a HEP educator, critically analyse how child development is essential in performance of your work for the holistic and integral development of learners with diverse needs in your class.
Development is as change or growth occurring in a child during the life time from birth to adolescence (Ruffin, 2009). In child’s development, there are two kinds of changes that occur; quantitative change and qualitative change. Quantitative change is a change in amount, for example, in height, weight and vocabulary size, whereas qualitative change involves changes in nature of intelligence, for example. in thinking and behaviour. The developmental changes occur in an orderly sequence, which include the three main areas: cognitive development, social-emotional development and physical development.
A child’s cognitive development is the construction of his mental processes, which includes memorising, decision-making and problem solving, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. Children do not only growing physically, but they are also grow mentally by observing and interacting with the world around them, to develop their abilities. Since they are aware of their environments and eager to explore new things, they gradually begin to learn. They are able to gather, sort, and process information from around them, using this data to develop sense of awareness and thinking skills.
“Cognitive development refers to the mind and how it works. It involves how children think, how they see their world, and how they use what they learn.” (Dodge, Colker, and Heroman, 2002). The cognitive development is important for a child as it includes skills such as language reading, vocabulary and numeracy. For example, when a child acquires information about language, it will make them understand words, when they are provided with language, literacy and prospects to listen, they will use language regularly and they can start acquiring the necessary knowledge how to read. If a child is not properly shaped in school with these skills, there will be a risk of starting behind and staying behind. Therefore, cognitive development should be reinforced when children are in a safe environment, healthy, emotionally secure, and socially connected.
Social and Emotional development
Social and emotional development is a child’s ability to understand the feelings of others, control his or her own feelings and behaviours, get along with other children, and build relationships with adults. In order for children to develop the basic skills they need such as cooperation, following directions, demonstrating self-control and paying attention, they must have social-emotional skills.
These three main areas of child development involve developmental changes which take place in a predictable pattern (age related), orderly, but with differences in the rate or timing of the changes from one person to another (Ruffin 2009).
While each child grows and develops at his own pace, his overall development follows a pattern. People often talk about children’s development in stages, tasks and milestones.
Development happens in stages. A stage is a period of time when your child is learning specific tasks or a set of skills. Your child needs your help to learn these skills. Each stage of development builds on the stages that came before it.
The learning that occurs in each stage gets your child ready for more difficult tasks in the stages to come. By giving your child lots of chances to practice skills as he learns them, you help him move to the next stage. For example, when you give your child comfort each time he cries, he learns from experience that he can trust you.
Each stage also has specific developmental milestones. Milestones are markers that tell you how a child usually develops and whether your child is developing as expected. Each developmental milestone has an age range. Children typically reach milestones anytime in that age range.
Child development is a process every child goes through. This process involves learning and mastering skills like sitting, walking, talking, skipping, and tying shoes. Children learn these skills, called developmental milestones, during predictable time periods. Children develop skills in five main areas of development:
Cognitive DevelopmentThis is the child’s ability to learn and solve problems. For example, this includes a two-month-old baby learning to explore the environment with hands or eyes or a five-year-old learning how to do simple math problems.
Social and Emotional DevelopmentThis is the child’s ability to interact with others, including helping themselves and self-control. Examples of this type of development would include: a six-week-old baby smiling, a ten-month-old baby waving bye-bye, or a five-year-old boy knowing how to take turns in games at school.
Speech and Language DevelopmentThis is the child’s ability to both understand and use language. For example, this includes a 12-month-old baby saying his first words, a two-year-old naming parts of her body, or a five-year-old learning to say “feet” instead of “foots”.
Fine Motor Skill DevelopmentThis is the child’s ability to use small muscles, specifically their hands and fingers, to pick up small objects, hold a spoon, turn pages in a book, or use a crayon to draw.
Gross Motor Skill DevelopmentThis is the child’s ability to use large muscles. For example, a six-month-old baby learns how to sit up with some support, a 12-month-old baby learns to pull up to a stand holding onto furniture, and a five-year-old learns to skip.
Reflection and relevance of child development for HEP educators
How can I support my child’s cognitive development?
Help children to keep focused and attentive by limiting distractions and interruptions.
Express interest in your child’s activities and try to observe and reflect on what you believe they are trying to accomplish.
Spark curiosity by offering materials in new ways
Spark curiosity by noticing things and suggesting, “Let’s go see what would happen if?”
Offer materials that are challenging enough to be interesting but not impossible
Share the joy children feel as they show you their accomplishments.
Help children develop memories by keeping the routine and room arrangement predictable; keep toys where children know to find them
Talk with children about what they did earlier in the day or the day before.
Provide many opportunities to categorize, match, sort, compare, and contrast with toys and activities.
Encourage problem solving