Child Development

Child development is how children are able to do more complex things as they get older.  As a child develops, she will learn skills like talking, skipping, and tying shoes.  She will also learn to manage her emotions and build relationships with others.

Children develop skills in 5 main areas:

1. Cognitive (Learning and Thinking)

A child’s ability to learn, solve problems, reason and remember

  • A baby will explore the environment with his hands or eyes
  • A young child does simple math problems

2. Social and Emotional

A child’s ability to form relationships

  • A  baby smiles and waves bye-bye
  • A young child knows how to take turns in a game

3. Speech and Language

Expressive Communication

A child’s ability to communicate using both gestures and verbal cues

  • A baby will say first words
  • A young child will say “feet” instead of “foots”

Receptive Communication

A child’s ability to understand words and follow directions

  • A baby will look at family members when named
  • A young child will follow multi-step instruction or direction

4. Physical and Movement

Fine Motor Skills

A child’s ability to use small muscles, specifically their hands and fingers

  • A baby will use a pincer grasp to pick up a Cheerio
  • A young child will use scissors to cut a piece of paper

Gross Motor Skills

A child’s ability to use large muscles to sit, stand, walk or run.  It includes keeping balance and changing positions

  • A  baby will sit up with some support
  • A young child will skip

5. Adaptive

A child’s ability to learn and use self-care tasks

  • A baby will feed themselves
  • A young child will dress himself

There are a lot of things families can do to help their child learn new skills.

What can families do?

  • Support your child’s development by reading, playing and talking to your child!  For more ideas, read Tips for Families
  • Learn about Developmental Milestones. Milestones help you understand what to expect for your child and when to be concerned.  Click here for Developmental Milestones.
  • Join fun activities in the community.  Activities such as library story times and playgroups help children practice skills and have fun.