What is Child Development, what are the areas and skills associated? Complete guide for parents

What is Child Development ? Read about the main areas of Child Development. What are fine motor skills, gross motor skills and other types of skills associated with child development. How can you contribute in child development? Read these questions answered to help you make sense of these terms you hear regularly

Many a times I have seen questions like “How can I keep my little one occupied at home such that it helps in his development?” Or “How do I decide activities for my kid” or may be “Should I buy expensive early development toys”.

With time I have realized that the reason for these question is we parents have a strong desire to contribute to our child’s development in the best possible way we can but have very little knowledge of how we can help our kid develop skills or contribute to child development. 

I believe to understand how we can contribute – we first need to understand what Child Development is and what the main areas of Child Development are?

So let us talk about what is child development definition, what are the types of child development and a lot more below.

What is child Development ?

Child Development is a process every kid goes through.

As children move from babyhood to primary childhood there are various skills which need to be developed for their betterment. A child first starts turning, then sitting, then can stand with support, then starts walking and then one day starts running, starts throwing things and so on.

So child Development is a process that involves learning and mastering skills like sitting, walking, running, hopping, throwing, tying shoes and so on. Kids learn these skills, usually called developmental milestones, during predictable time periods.

Now let us see the main areas of child development and associated skills one by one.

What are main areas of Child Development and the skills associated ?

  • Gross Motor Skills Development
  • Fine Motor Skills Development
  • Speech and Language Development
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Cognitive Development

What are Gross Motor Skills

This is the child’s ability to use large muscles.

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 eighteen month old toddler learns to walk and so on. These are all gross motor skills. Thus the movements which require the development of large muscles of the body come under the Gross Motor Skills.

Other examples of gross motor skills include:

  • Climbing up a tree
  • Riding a tri-cycle
  • Playing Tennis
  • Dribbling a basketball

So next time you see your kid jumping around. Let him do that it is actually good for him. He is building and improving his gross motor skills. Though, create a safe area for him where he can jump around without getting hurt.

What are Fine Motor Skills ?

This is the child’s ability to use fine or smaller muscles like muscles in the hands, fingers, and wrists.

Children use these skills when writing, holding small items, buttoning clothing, turning pages, eating, cutting with scissors, and using computer keyboards. Mastery of fine motor skills requires precision and coordination.

So next time your little one asks you to let him eat on his own, or wants to pick up objects from ground, or want to transfer water from one glass to another, or may be remove stickers from a sticker book let him do so. It is actually good for him as he is practicing and improving his fine motor skills.

Speech and Language Development

This is the child’s ability to understand and use language.

For example at one year your child may learn to understand and point to some objects in a book or in real life. This is his ability to understand the language and words you are using.  Your one year old baby starting to speak simple words like mamma, papa or your three year old baby learning how to frame sentences, this is all language development.

Social and Emotional Development

Social development is the child’s ability to interact with others, children and adults. Emotional development is a child’s ability to understand, regulate and control emotions.

The first emotions that can be recognized in babies are happiness, anger, fear and sadness. Later as babies grown and begin to develop a sense of self more complex emotions emerge.

For example, a little baby smiling, a toddler laughing or learning to say bye bye, or an older kid playing with other children. This is all social and emotional development.

This is one skill which we don’t talk about much but which is very important.

Social and Emotional skills are ways of dealing with others that create healthy and positive interactions. Children who have social skills can communicate clearly, calmly, and respectfully. They show consideration for the feelings and interests of their peers. They take responsibility for their actions, are able to control themselves, and are able to assert themselves when needed.

Children learn social skills through experiences with peers, examples and instructions from their parents, and time with adults.

It is vital for children to use social skills because they are the route to creating and developing relationships. They are needed for enriching social experiences, and they lessen the chance for negative interactions. Being the building blocks for friendships, social skills give children the chance to learn from their peers and learn how to be considerate with those they meet in the future. By having a positive impact on life experiences, social skills also give children a sense of confidence and mastery over their environment.

Cognitive Development

This is the child’s ability to learn and solve problems.

For example babies learning to explore things around them with their hands and eyes, toddlers learning to solve puzzles, older kids doing maths problems.

Cognitive skill development in children involves the progressive building of learning skills, such as attention, memory and thinking. These crucial skills enable children to process sensory information and eventually learn to evaluate, analyze, remember, make comparisons and understand cause and effect.

Although some cognitive skill development is related to your child’s genetic makeup, most of the cognitive skills can be learned. That means thinking and learning skills can be improved with practice and the right training.

1. Attention

When a child learns to pay attention, it enables him to concentrate on one task or conversation for an extended period of time.

Learning to focus attention is an important cognitive skill that the child will use in virtually all future learning.

2. Memory

Memory is an important cognitive skill that equips a child to retain what he has learned and experienced and therefore build a future base of knowledge.

Children younger than five years of age have difficulty with short- and long-term memory retention. But, as a child progresses into the school years, his long-term memory increases and allows the child to progressively build on the previous knowledge.

3. Thinking or Problem Solving

The ability to think includes being able to reason out tasks and find solutions.

This cognitive skill helps a child to know whether he’s accomplishing what he set out to do or whether he needs to ask for help.

For example, when a child reads a story, thinking skills allow him to determine for himself whether he understands what he’s reading or whether he needs to go over the passage again, look for additional clues, study available pictures or ask for help in order to better grasp the intended meaning.

Another good example is when a kid himself wants to repair one of his favourite toys. With the help of various tools he opens it and thinks how he can repair his toy. In this task he is using all his skills- fine motor skills and cognitive skills.

So going forward would suggest that you plan activities and buy toys keeping these skills and development areas in mind.

Also it is not necessary to buy expensive toys and plan elaborate activities; your time is the biggest gift for your little one. Your time combined with what we discussed today will help you convert normal day to day jobs and everyday use objects in a fun and learning experience for your little one.

With the awareness of these skills and child development areas, you can now make a conscious effort to involve your little one in a variety of games and activities and contribute to his growth and development.

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You may also want to check our other popular articles and activities for child development.

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