If you’ve ever spent time with young children, you already know they are amazing learners. Those little people scamper around, chattering and learning at what seems to be a hundred miles per hour. Young children absorb information and learn inmany different ways all at once.

For example, while a toddler is learning important physical skills and coordination—they’re also developing speech, studying social cues and learning emotional expression. It’s like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time with three or four other important elements thrown in!

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about some of these developmental milestones already. Doctors, teachers and all sorts of professionals who interact with kids keep an eye out for important changes as children grow. But even if you’ve studied up on early childhood development, keeping track of important milestones can seem overwhelming.

To make things easier, we asked experts in early childhood to share some of the most important things to know about early childhood development. Keep reading to get an idea of what childhood development is like, as well as the important milestones along the way!

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  • Fostering the right environment can help children develop self-esteem as well as explain some of their behaviors, Snipes explains. “Understanding early childhood development helps teachers more effectively manage their classroom, but more importantly, it helps children develop a strong sense of confidence and determination.”When you have a strong foundation for what is going on in those little minds—you’ll have a much better idea of what they need to flourish. There is also a benefit to catching any development trouble early on.“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,” saysDr. Ari Yares, PhD, NCSP and psychologist.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that significant delays in development can be indicators of a medical or psychological condition. Catching potentialunderlying causes early can allow parents and caregivers to get support for their child and better understand how to adjust to their needs. According to the CDC, certain therapies and interventions will be much more effective early in a child’s life, when their brain is most adaptable. This makes early education an ideal stage for keeping an eye on what those little ones are learning.

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  1. Early childhood development is a little easier to understand when you break it into categories of learning. The CDC separates early learning into four main areas:
    1. Social and emotional
    2. Language/communication
    3. Movement/physical development
    4. Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

    In healthy children, these areas are all important in growth and development. When you consider a learning environment, these growth areas intersect. For example, social and emotional awareness often rises through language and communication in the preschool years. Or toddlers might problem-solve and make cognitive discoveries through movement and physical growth.

    But when you understand development as a whole, you see that educating children goes way beyond letters and numbers. “We often focus on creating a language-rich environment using colors, numbers and shapes, but leave out building a child’s emotional vocabulary,” says Yares.

    Leaving an important element—like emotional expression—out of the picture can make learning more difficult for young students. “ECE professionals need to understand the full gamut of early childhood development, since emotional expression is often tied to behavioral difficulties we see in young children,” Yares says.

    While there are definitely milestones to look for as children get older (e.g., beginning to make sentences or learning to walk), experts in childhood development warn against measuring all children against a checklist.

    “Understand that development does not happen in a neat, linear fashion like textbooks or charts describe,” Yares says. “It is uneven and varies from child to child, even within the same family.” Yares advises early childhood professionals to understand important time frames and milestones, while learning about how development works at a more holistic level.

Truly, it takes a village to raise a child. When you see all the early childhood development milestones and changes unfolding, you can see why support networks matter so much. Since every child is different, the most effective teachers know how to look for patterns and milestones while working with families.

If the thought of helping children grow and learn gives you excitement, then doing exactly that every workday might be the perfect career move for you. Check out our article, “5 Signs You Have What It Takes to Become a Child Care Provider,” to see if the nuances of this role appeal to you.

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Learn the Signs. Act Early. Developmental Milestones. [Information accessed September 17, 2018] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html

Author: facilitator.hub

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