Expert tips by Jan Jones (Early Childhood Educator)
The first few years are extremely important in the growth and development of your child. Parents guide their children through these years. These are wonderful times to laugh, play and learn from and with your child.
As you watch your child grow, remember it never hurts to ask questions, if you want more information on how you can encourage your child’s development. Ask your local Maternal and Child Health nurse, kindergarten teacher or school teacher for ideas about activities that can help to expand your range of play ideas.
Children’s growth and development can be divided into four main areas. These are explained below along with some ideas of things you can do with your child that will help your child’s learning.
Areas Of Development
Thinking skills (Cognitive development)
Cognitive development is the development of logic and problem solving, sorting and organising information, concentration, short and long term memory, creativity and imagination. Cognitive development is often seen as “academic” ability, but it is more than this as it also explains how we learn, what processes are being used in thinking and how different parts of the brain work.
Physical development is looked at in three ways: gross motor development, fine motor development and height and weight growth. Gross motor development is the development of large muscle groups in the arms, legs, back and abdomen. These muscles are developed during active play and movement. Fine motor development is the development of small muscle groups in the hands, fingers, toes, mouth, eyes, lips and tongue. These muscles control fine motor skills such as those used in hand movements, using implements, speaking and making facial expressions.
Social and emotional development
Social and emotional development involves the development of relationships with other people and how we learn to feel and express a wide range of feelings. It also involves developing self-esteem, a sense of self-efficacy and personal identity.
Language development involves the use of symbols in sound, picture or letter form to extend ideas.
Thinking (cognitive) skills
- Cause and effect toys such as nesting and stacking cups or musical toys
- Sorting, matching
- Songs and rhymes
- Blocks and other construction toys
- Classifying toys such as peg boards, posting boxes or dominoes
Gross motor skills:
- Swings and slides
- Climbing equipment
- Wheeled toys
- Action songs and dancing
Fine motor skills:
- Blocks or bean bags
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Play dough, mud, sand and water play
- Painting and drawing
- Make believe and pretend play, dress-ups
- Puppets and dolls
- Snack time
- Interactive play
- Singing songs and rhymes
- Books and stories