It is incredible to watch children grow and acquire new skills on a daily basis. What grown-ups do automatically, children can find challenging, but with a bit of practice, can master these necessary skills very quickly. We'd like to take a closer look at the three key areas of learning and development in the early years, and see how we can encourage its progress.
1. Communication and Language.
Being able to express yourself clearly is a crucial skill. Growing and enriching a child's vocabulary is a goal for all parents, carers and teachers. Communication and Language development in the early years starts from a baby crying to draw attention to their needs, to children being able to speak confidently and read their first books. To help progress, it is important to use the language all around us: listen to music and sing along, read to children and explain new words, look at the writing - in books and all around. Children develop at their own pace, but if practiced consistently, they will be confident speakers and listeners by the time they start school.
2. Personal, Social and Emotional.
We are social beings and need interaction. Children develop a sense of self at home, where they feel safe and their needs are met. As they grow, they develop a wider range of feelings and learn more about the surrounding environment and people in it who are outside of their immediate family. Seeing a positive relationship between the school and parents boosts their confidence to try new things. Children begin to explore and play on their own, then alongside the other children, before eventually forming stronger bonds and first friendships. By doing simple activities like sharing meals together is a great way to encourage this. Talking about and acknowledging feelings and emotions develops empathy and reinforces self-confidence.
3. Physical Development.
Health and fitness is a foundation to successful learning. Physical activity comes easy to children, as they seem to have endless energy. Parents and teachers can use it to help transition the development of gross motor skills to fine motor skills. For example, upper body development can be achieved through climbing and ball throwing, which will strengthen the muscles that children use for fine motor skills. Activities such as playing with play-dough and using tweezers to pick up small objects give a great physical preparation to their hands to hold the pencil and begin mark making and writing.
To find out more about child development, and what to expect when, we recommend this useful guide.