As parents, we all want the best for our children. We may have different ideas of what that looks like in the end, but in their younger years there are lots of common ideas – we want them to grow and develop well.
There are many different ways to achieve this, but it’s hard to do alone. One of the best ways for parents to get the help they need is to look into day care options.
What Is Child Development?
Child development is simply the way a kid changes as they get older. As babies and infants, these changes happen incredibly quickly, and they continue as they mature into adults.
For children, there are a few key areas of development to focus on, including speech, movement, cognitive function and social interactions.
What Years Does Child Development Cover?
Although we learn throughout our whole lives, research has shown that our brains develop the most in the first five years of our life – the years before we go to school.
While there’s a lot that parents and family members can teach children at home, there’s a lot that has to be learnt outside the house.
The Most Important Years of Your Child’s Development
Although people can learn new skills and habits at any age, if you get the foundations right when a child is young it makes life a whole lot easier.
The experiences of early childhood can have a huge impact on how well a child learns new skills, socialises with peers and faces up to challenges in life.
The 5 Stages Of Child Development
Although children learn a lot in their younger years, there are five main areas where they develop:
- Cognitive Development
- Social and Emotional Development
- Speech and Language Development
- Fine Motor Skill Development
- Gross Motor Skill Development
Every child develops at a different pace. While one may excel with language skills, another may be a late bloomer with words but instead show great dexterity with their fingers. There’s no right and wrong with development, but it’s good to encourage all areas.
Stage 1 Cognitive Development
Cognitive development in a child dictates how they interact with the world. You’ll often see it in their inquisitive nature, starting with babies putting objects in their mouths, but it also develops in memory and reasoning.
Cognitive development is a key factor in other areas of learning, and it can be developed in a lot of ways including songs, stories and play.
Stage 2 Social and Emotional Development
In their first few years of life, children will learn how to interact with others and how to experience different emotions.
Their initial bonds generally come with their parents and then other family members, but there comes a time when it’s important that they learn to interact with other adults (like teachers) and children around their age.
Emotional development is also important. While parents may not enjoy tantrums, they are a key part of this development, as are positive emotions like happiness and laughter.
Stage 3 Speech and Language Development
For most children, speech and language develops from three months to eight years. At first, it may be more of a babbling than coherent words, but this is an important step for kids.
In most cases, the first words will be ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, and they’ll add important things soon after, before expanding into sentences and conversations over the following years.
A mixture of baby talk, full sentences and conversational partners can help a child develop.
Stage 4 Fine Motor Skill Development
Fine motor skills refer to intricate movements made by children — things done with their fingers rather than their whole bodies.
These precise movements can be trained in lots of ways and kids often learn transferrable skills.
Fine motor skills are important in tasks such as feeding themselves, getting dressed and, later on, writing.
Stage 5 Gross Motor Skill Development
Gross motor skills are the large whole-body movements your child makes. You’ll see them develop as they begin to hold their head up themselves, crawl and then run.
The development of these skills help your child to balance, run and perform more complex skills like climbing, dancing and gymnastic acts.
As with all aspects of development, practice goes a long way to improving these skills.
Every Child’s Development Path is Different
The important thing to remember with your child is that they will develop in a different way and at different speeds to other children — even their siblings.
Some children may be incredibly advanced with their words but incredibly clumsy when they walk while a peer may have few words but excel on a climbing frame. Both are completely normal and, in nearly all cases, they’ll catch up in other areas when they’re ready.
The Benefits of Child Care To Your Child’s Development
Encouraging your child’s development is crucial as a parent, but it takes a village to help.
By enrolling your offspring in child care, you can help them get a more rounded education.
In most day care centres, children are exposed to all types of stimuli that will help them grow. Their days will be structured in such a way that they’ll be able to develop their skills, often in a fun and play-filled way that means they won’t even realise they’re learning.
They Learn About Schedules
One thing day care teaches children about is schedules. The most obvious of these is around food.
Most day care centres will have a set lunch time. They may also have structured morning and afternoon teas built into their days.
As a child gets used to this setup, they’ll begin to understand the pattern and format, which will help as they get older.
Development of Literacy and Numeracy Skills
Literacy and numeracy skills are vital in this day and age. Learning those skills when you’re young can have a huge impact on later education.
Day care centres have lots of ways to teach these skills. From singing the ABC song to playing games with simple counting, or even through structured activities like Letterland, children can build on these skills quickly.
Prepares Them For School
While day care is a lot more play-based than primary school, they introduce a lot of the principles of school to children.
From set lunch breaks to group activities and sitting down to learn, children will unknowingly pick up many habits that will help them later in life.
Builds Their Immune System
It’s no secret that day care centres are a haven for colds, bugs and gastro. And while no parent wants their child to suffer, studies have shown that children who get sick in their early years build a better immune system than their peers who don’t.
This means that by the time they’re teenagers, kids who went to day care are generally healthier than those who didn’t.
They’ll Learn While Playing
One of the best ways for young children to learn is to do so in a fun way.
Day care introduces a lot of skills into their life through games and play. From developing numeracy skills and fine motor functions to teamwork and patience, there’s a lot that can be learnt through games.
Children learn to communicate best when they’re encouraged to talk to a wide range of people, including those their own age.
While they may always have a special bond, and even a secret language, with parents and siblings, by talking to peers and other trusted adults they develop their talking and listening skills, and pick up a wider vocabulary, more quickly.
Develops Their Independence
It’s hard for children to flourish when they’re under the constant supervision of their parents. No matter how well-intentioned you are, there are subtle ways you can hold them back — including with their independence.
By going to day care, children are forced out of their comfort zone where they can ask mum and dad to do things for them. They’ll push themselves to try new things and their development will skyrocket as a result.