Tuesday, 27 November 2012


I had a conversation with a father recently about how parents know whether their child is developing as they should. He asked an excellent question because it is a source of concern for parents, is my child doing what they should be doing at this time? How might I support them to progress further?

This conversation is similar to ones we had with several parents at the parent evening we presented at earlier in the week. Parents do worry that their child isn't developing as they should. They look at other children, compare them with theirs and wonder why they are different. Each child is an individual just as each adult is an individual. Adults do things differently, we think differently and that's what makes us unique. Children are exactly the same.

Developmental milestones were established many years ago and give a guide to the average time children may achieve certain milestones. Physical milestones are relatively easy to establish, such things as walking, sitting up and crawling. Typically developing children reach these milestone at different times, within a broad range although it seems that this may be culturally bound.

An example of a milestone is walking, and any parent knows that a child achieves this complex skill in their own time at their own pace. Learning to walk is difficult to hurry, it takes lots of practice. We asked the group of parents last week when their children walked. The range was from between 7 months to 15 months and this seems to be a typical range. Yes, children can walk at 7 months, amazing when you see that some children are just sitting at that age and some just beginning to crawl.

The developmental milestones for children say that 12 months is the average age that typically developing children should begin walking. Looking at our range above, the children of the parents we asked seemed to have walked a little earlier than average. In this very non scientific study, the show of hands at 12 months demonstrated that the majority of children did indeed walk at this age. When the parents were asked if all their children are now walking, they all said yes. They laughed when we asked if they were all running, it seems that the child who walked at 15 months was every bit as active and physically capable as the child who walked at 7 months.

The father was also asking about more difficult to milestones to judge, the educational milestones, for example when  a child should be able to read and write. Children develop these skills at different times and the range can be similar to that of the physical milestones. If you refer back to the Emergent Writing entry, there are examples of the stages children need to practice so they can develop their writing skills. Yes, being able to scribble is a skill children need to practice before they develop the control to begin to write. We will concentrate on using writing as an example, although the same concepts apply to all learning.

By the age of 4, some children are enthusiastic writers, that is they produce lots of drawings and mark making; some children prefer to engage in social play and are not that interested in drawing; some children prefer to play outside exercising their physical skills. The most important thing for us to remember is that all these activities lead to children developing their writing skills. Children come to writing in their own time, at their own pace when provided with the materials, support and encouragement.

The key is to support children at their own pace, to support them to be enthusiastic learners, to take a risk and not fear failure. When we supply young children with adult models of handwriting and expect them to copy, they will fail this task because they may not have had time to build the foundation skills required for this task. Writing is complex. To give you some idea of just how complex, try this excercise:

మీ పిల్లలు ప్రేమ.
1. Copy the writing above on a piece of paper three times
2. Turn that paper over and write the same thing on the back of the paper from memory
3. Finally, read what it says

Was this a difficult task? Did you manage all the steps? How did you feel while you were copying the writing? Did you write in the correct direction, was it left to right or right to left? Were you able to read what the words said? Did your writing look perfect, like the model?

The words say "we love your children" in Teluga.

1 comment:

  1. Apologies to our readers. We are having some difficulty with the language in the writing activity. We hope to rectify this in the near future.
    The team at ECCEU