The development of early childhood is a fascinating phase of growth and development. Human babies are born when their brains are still developing and are less than 50 per cent of an adult brain. The remaining brain development happens after birth. The brain nearly doubles in size in the first year of a child’s development.
Brain development in early childhood happens very fast. More than one million neural connections develop each second during the first few years of a child’s life. Driven by external stimuli and everyday experiences, the brain of a one-year-old baby understands more complex things than you can imagine. This kind of fast growth happens only in the first few years. Therefore, a child’s early experiences have a huge impact on how their brain develops. The importance of early childhood development cannot be ignored and as parents, you should actively encourage early childhood development.
What is Holistic Development in Early Childhood?
Holistic development in early childhood refers to the overall development of a child. It includes their physical, mental, emotional, and social development. Children need proper nutrition, health care, safety, security, exposure, and learning opportunities to grow holistically. As a parent, you must provide them with responsive caregiving. Activities such as talking, singing, and playing with your child are great ways to nourish their developing brains.
A holistic childcare approach is one of the best ways to nurture and raise your child. Just focusing on one area of development, say only the intellectual aspect of development, is not a holistic approach. Parents should prioritise and stimulate all areas of development of their child.
One of the best ways to boost holistic development in early childhood is through play. Age-appropriate play-based activities give the child the freedom to learn and express themselves. The more freedom your child gets while playing, the more they naturally learn and develop skills. Some of the best examples of play-based learning activities are:
- Singing: Enhances language skills and memory
- Pretend Play: Develops their imagination skills
- Story-Telling: Develops language and imagination skills
- Painting and Drawing: Helps in developing cognitive motor skills
- Playing with Blocks: Develops their motor skills
Social Development in Early Childhood
Social development in early childhood is closely linked to emotional and cognitive development. Social development refers to how a child interacts with others. You should encourage your child to develop social skills before they enter preschool. Healthy social development in early childhood will help your child develop long-lasting relationships in the future, cope with stressful situations, and build confidence.
Some milestones of social development in early childhood are:
- Sharing toys
- Taking turns during play
- Following the rules of a game
- Showing attachment to a particular person or object
- Listening while others are speaking
- Understanding the basic emotions of another person
Some kids are bossy and defiant, while others are obedient. As a parent, be patient with your child. All kids are unique and they develop social skills in their own way. However, watch out for the following signs of concern. If you notice any of the following signs, you may have to work harder on the development of your child’s social skills or consult with a professional.
- Shows no interest in interacting with other kids
- Is not interested in playing
- Is extremely rigid about routines
- They get upset if something happens ‘out of the routine’
- Is incapable of taking turns in a play
- Extremely dependent on the caregiver for everything
- Suffer from extreme separation anxiety
- Incapable of understating the basic emotion of another person
Major Physical Development during Early Childhood
Early childhood physical development includes kicking, squirming, crawling, standing, and grasping objects. During early childhood physical development, your baby will develop fine and gross motor skills.
Fine motor skills development includes the smaller muscles such as hands, wrists, fingers, toes, and feet. When your baby can pick up or hold an object, it indicates that their fine motor skills are developing. Gross motor skills include larger muscles such as arms, legs, and other body parts. When your child can run, stand, bend, or jump, it indicates that their gross motor skills are developing. Early development will also include hand-eye coordination. Your baby will use their vision to control movements and actions of small muscles.
Regular physical movement and activity will help your child develop physically. As a parent, encourage your child to engage in regular physical activities.
Here are some activities that will assist your child’s physical development:
- Encourage them to reach out and grab things. This will help develop both their fine and gross motor skills
- Keep their toys away from them and encourage them to get them
- Allow your baby to turn the pages of a book while you read out to them
- Encourage them to play with building blocks
- Ask them to put things in a container
- Allow them to play with play dough
- Art and craft activities are a great way to develop motor skills
- Introduce your child to different textures
- Let them play with paint and colours
- Allow them to press buttons
Each child develops at their own pace and shows strength and abilities in different areas.
Moral Development in Early Childhood
Moral development is the ability to know the difference between right and wrong. Your child’s experience at home, the environment around them along with their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social skills influence their sense of right or wrong. Moral development is not as simple as teaching values to your child. Moral development is so complicated that various psychologists have come up with their own theories. The most prominent theory is by Jean Piaget who believed that children between the ages of 5 and 10 years see morality as heteronomous, where the rules are set by an authority figure such as a parent or teacher, and the child has to follow them. As they grow older, the stage of autonomy sets in. Teaching morality is not easy. However, if you start early, it is better. Here are some activities that can teach them the difference between right and wrong.
- Group games like follow the leader, hide and seek, running races, thief and police
- Group games educate children about rules and ethics
- Sharing games like passing the parcel
- Help sister is another game that teaches kids the importance of helping and saving a friend
The best way to teach good moral values to your child is by being a good role model. Never lie to your child or make false promises. If they see you doing these, they will believe lying and breaking promises are fine. If they see their parents helping others, they will do the same.
Language Development in Early Childhood
Last but not least in early development is language development. It starts with sounds and gestures that are gradually followed by words and sentences. You can develop your child’s language skills by talking to them. Start talking to your baby while they are an infant. Singing and reading aloud to them will also help them learn words.
Babies start babbling by the time they are three months of age. By the time of their first birthday, they start saying their first words. Usually, they start saying simple words such as dada, mama, baba etc. Most toddlers understand more words than they can say. By the time they are two years, they can say complete sentences.
Early development of your child happens in stages and across functions. At birth, the brain is relatively underdeveloped. Initially, your child’s brain is only 25% of your brain but by three years of age, your baby’s brain is 80% of your brain’s size. Therefore, you can see how fast the brain develops in the early years.
You can encourage your child’s development by involving them in various activities that boost their growth and development. You need not invest hours doing activities with your baby. Just spending 5-minute a day doing focused and well-designed activities is enough to help your baby grow faster and smarter. To know how you can unleash your baby’s true potential, contact us now.