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The First Five Years February 22, 2014

Why is early learning so important?

Did you know that 85 – 90% of a child’s brain is developed before the age of five?  It truly is amazing how much children learn in these early years – how to support their head, how to control their muscles, how to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, throw and catch a ball, jump, hop, skip, dance, how to take in sounds, sights, tastes, smells and feelings and make sense of their world around them, how to understand and use language, (sometimes more than one language!) how to regulate their own emotions, how to take care of many of their own personal needs, how to be part of a family and other groups . . .  And often, children seem to learn these skills effortlessly and with great satisfaction.

And that is part of the reason why early learning is so important.  During the first five years, children are like sponges, picking up so many skills from their environments.  Maria Montessori used the term ‘The Absorbent Mind’ to describe this ability.  ImageAt no other time in life is it as easy to pick up a new language and use it fluently, for example.  It is not that any of the skills can’t be learned after the first five years of life, but learning them will take more conscious effort and practice.

So please do help your child make the most of the golden opportunity for learning that the first five years of life offer.

One of our favorite resources for ideas to help you make the most of the birth to three years is http://lovetalkplay.org/ where you’ll find lots of everyday ways to love, talk and play with your baby and toddler.  All of the ideas take advantage of normal, everyday moments, such as changing your baby’s diaper, giving him a bath, dressing him, feeding him, and playing together.  No difficult schedule or expensive supplies are needed ~just you and your child doing everyday things together, but making the most of each opportunity to learn!

 

 

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Developmental Milestones February 12, 2014

Filed under: Child Development — bevfollowsthechild @ 9:39 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Where can I find information about a child’s normal development between the ages of birth to six?

DSCN2074Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye bye” are called developmental milestones.  Children develop at different rates and reach these milestones at different ages.   While children develop according to their own inner timetables, opportunity to try out and practice new skills also play a part.  A baby confined to a car seat for long periods of the day will not have as much opportunity to stretch, wriggle, kick, reach, and eventually roll over, crawl and begin cruising around the furniture, as a baby who has time to play on her tummy or lay on her back on a blanket on the floor.  As they grow, children need opportunities to run, throw and catch a ball, climb, jump, use crayons and pencils and paint, look at books, listen to stories, listen and talk with others, take care of their personal needs, make choices, contribute to the family by helping . . .  Children develop according to their own inner timetables and the opportunities provided by their environments.

So how do you know what to expect from your child and when?

Here are some of my favorite, easy-to-use guides to developmental milestones in the areas of thinking, social skills, listening, talking and movement, small and large muscle development, vision and hearing skills.

Learn the Signs.  Act Early. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/  You can click on an age and read the milestones.  You can click on the next age your child will reach, and be prepared for the next stage!

The Baby Center also has lots of information and short videos about developmental milestones.  The videos show the importance of tummy time for babies, for example.  You can even use the site to keep a record of your child’s developmental milestones.

http://www.babycenter.com/milestone-charts-birth-to-age-3

What if I have concerns about my child’s development?

If you have a concern, it’s best to bring your concern to your child’s health care provider a.s.a.p.   Perhaps there is nothing to worry about, and if so, you can be reassured.  If there is a concern about your child’s health or development, then the sooner the problem is identified, the sooner your child and family can receive support and services to help your child reach his or her full potential.

A personal story~ I was so glad that I discussed with our pediatrician my concern that our toddler was not babbling or starting to say words.   It would have been easy to just blame it on her older sister doing all of the talking for her!  However, it turned out our toddler had lots of fluid build up in her ears.  It was as if she was hearing under water!  Once we addressed the problem with her ears (fluid, constant ear infections, a burst ear drum), she blossomed into language.  Thank goodness we got help when we were first concerned.  Otherwise, our toddler might have missed out on some important years for language development.  (Our ‘toddler’ is now in her thirties, and a language maestro!)

Please ask if you have any concerns!  Babies, toddlers and young children can’t wait!

Boost Collaborative (509 332 4420) provides free and confidential screenings for children birth to three, and support services for families, for the whole of Whitman County, Washington State.

 

For children over the age of three, check with your local school district for screening services.