Every parent wants their child to grow up healthy and develop all of their abilities to achieve great things in life. This, among other reasons, is why parents monitor their child’s development from the early years of life – hoping that their children are progressing normally.
You’re probably well aware that young children learn and develop differently. And while they all go through certain typical stages of development, individual progress varies from child to child. That’s where psychoeducational assessments can come in and help.
What is child development?
Child development is the sequence of changes in the physical and emotional growth of a child, from birth to the early stage of adulthood.
- Physical child development is when the child acquires and masters new skills such as sitting, walking and talking;
- Emotional child development is when the child learns to respond positively or negatively to the events that happen around them.
Why is child development significant?
It’s important to observe and monitor a child’s development to make sure that they are mastering the skills that most children are able to learn at around the same age – these particular skills, such as crawling, walking and talking, are called ‘developmental milestones’.
Monitoring and checking these milestones can help detect any hiccups in the development of a child and act as useful guidelines for healthy development. However, it’s important to stress that every child develops differently – there isn’t a set method that we can apply to all children. These milestones are simply a guide to help parents understand what skills, along with other things, children are generally learning at a certain age.
What does child development include?
Child development can be broken down into the following:
This is the development of a child’s ability to learn and solve problems. This can be a 5-year-old solving math problems or a baby exploring the environment with just their hands and eyes.
When children watch adults or older children around them, they may imitate some actions. Young children see these actions and can comprehend in a way that they learn and reproduce them. Cognitive development is important in fostering a child’s expansion in knowledge, which encourages intellectual growth.
#2. Social interaction
This is the social and emotional development of a child. For instance, waving and smiling at 5 months or understanding how to take turns and wait patiently during school games at age 5.
Some kids cry when they are not around their parents, and this is often taken as an indicator of a low desire to be social. Therefore, developing social interaction skills is particularly important for young children as it helps build independence and confidence in a social environment.
#3. Speech and language
This is the ability of the child to understand and use language to communicate. A good example is when a child less than a year old uses the word ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ to respond to their mum and dad. This happens from hearing the word often and being able to say it back.
A 5-year-old can also show development in this process by using words correctly, such as ‘feet’ instead of ‘foots’. Having adequate skills in speech and language helps a child develop communication confidence in situations like meeting other children for the first time.
#4. Physical skills
Also called ‘fine motor skills’, these are developed from a child’s ability to perform physical activities with little or no help at all. This involves using either small or large muscles to perform simple day-to-day tasks as needed.
This can range from using a spoon to eat at age 1 or learning how to sit up properly at 6 months to drawing on paper or kicking a ball during sports at age 5. These skills lay the foundation for a healthy and active life for a child.
#5. Sensory awareness
This is the ability of the child to use their 5 senses actively. No one expects a child to have a powerful nose, but the ability to perceive the aroma of a meal and recognise that it’s a meal just from the smell is a good sign.
Another key example is the ability to recognise the touch of both parents throughout the first 2 years of childhood. Providing opportunities for a young child to use these senses help a young brain organise these senses better.
Child development and psychoeducation
For families of children with special and unique behaviours, psychoeducational assessments can help understand how a child develops and learns. These particular behaviours in children are often presumed to be symptoms of a disorder or illness because of the contrast in comparison to other children. In this case, either the child is gifted, or the child requires additional support in learning.
What does psychoeducation include?
Psychoeducational assessments monitor and test the child’s development by using development milestone charts or checklists as a guide to determine what is deemed normal or abnormal for a child. Since every child exhibits different behaviours at different ages and situations, the checklist includes a range of possibilities for a specialist to examine. It does not provide specific information on a child.
How can OT&P MindWorX help?
Undertaking these series of assessments can help parents understand their child’s unique development and how they learn so that the parents can provide the right support. Any early signs of a behavioural problem can also be identified during the assessments.
To learn more, you can sign up for a consultation session with our dedicated psychoeducational practitioner by visiting our mental wellness clinic, MindWorX. We're dedicated to helping both parents and children with our psychoeducational assessments to identify your child's personality traits and abilities. Book an appointment today.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.howkidsdevelop.com/developSkills.html
Buttfield, J. (2019, September 30). What is Child Development? Retrieved from https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/what-is-child-development/
Infants & Toddlers: How Children Develop Sensory Awareness. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/infants-toddlers-how-children-develop-sensory-awareness/
New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council. (2012). New York State early learning guidelines. Rensselaer, NY.
Ong, S. H., & Caron, A. (2008). Family-based Psychoeducation for Children and Adolescents with Mood Disorders. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 17(6), 809–822. doi: 10.1007/s10826-008-9191-4