Child Development Principles
Child development refers to the way a child grows and learns. There are four areas, or domains, of child development:
- Physical - the development and growth of the child’s body, muscles, and senses.
- Social - how the child relates, plays and talks to others.
- Emotional - the child’s awareness of self, how the child feels about himself, expression of feelings and how he helps care for himself.
- Cognitive - the way children think, reason, solve problems, and understand and use language.
The domains are interrelated; what happens in one domain influences development in the other domains. The skills and knowledge that children develop early in his life are the foundation for more advanced skills and knowledge.
Each child develops at his or her own rate. Regular developmental screening is a way to help parents and professionals like doctors, nurses, child care providers and teachers gather information about cihldren’s development, identify possible concerns, and make referrals for help when needed.
Children develop in a predictable order, from simple to more complex skills. They learn by doing, and practice new skills through play. Play is a critical opportunity for children to practice new skills.
Many factors influence child development: heredity, family, and community. Children’s early experiences will affect them now and in the future. Children must have their basic needs met, feel safe, and feel valued in order to develop and learn.
Understanding children’s development at different ages makes it easier for parents and caregivers to:
- know what to expect of children
- learn what to do to help a child develop all of his or her abilities