A child's development occurs especially rapidly during the preschool and early school years. This period is divided into several important stages, so let's explore what happens at each stage, what parents can expect, and how to overcome crises and help kids.
From birth to 10 months
This period is considered crucial for a baby's development. By 2 months, they are already learning to hold their head independently; at 4 months, they can roll over from their back to their belly, and by 6 months, they can sit on their own. At 10 months, the little ones may begin to make their first attempts at standing and taking their first steps with the support of adults. At the same time, there is a rapid development of cognitive abilities:
- Sensory abilities develop as babies react to sounds, the faces of close individuals, and toys. They try to grasp various objects and explore them through touch, sound, and taste, making their initial attempts to investigate and understand colors, tastes, textures, and shapes.
- By the age of six months, infants already respond to the voices of their loved ones and express their needs through vocalizations and crying. It's essential to communicate with the child, even if they don't yet understand words, to promote the development of their language skills.
- Emotional development becomes noticeable through reactions such as crying, laughter, and babbling.
During this time, children learn to transfer objects from one hand to the other, developing their coordination and laying the foundation for gross motor skills.
From 10 to 12 months: A Sharp Growth Spurt
Progress in development becomes especially noticeable during this stage. Some babies may already attempt to stand without support, crawl well, and start learning to walk. At this stage, children can already play with a ball, pushing it away from themselves, trying to stack blocks, and turning the pages of books (it's advisable to choose books with sturdy cardboard pages as children cannot yet fully control their movements). Their ability to manipulate objects develops rapidly as well: they can hold a spoon and bring it to their mouth, pick up various items with both hands, and tap them together.
Cognitive development is evident in various aspects. Kids begin:
- To learn to pronounce syllables and short words.
- Show interest in other people besides their mother.
- They are curious about different textures, sounds, and light.
- Attempting to eat independently.
- They require less daytime sleep, increasingly trying to explore and learn about the world around them.
During this period, babies are actively curious about what's on the lower shelves in cabinets; they may tug on cords and crawl well throughout the house, among other activities. Therefore, ensuring the safety of all these explorations is crucial: securing electrical outlets, preventing access to electrical appliances, and removing small objects from the floor. Everything that can be tasted or touched will engage the child during this period, so it's best to ensure that the home environment poses no health risks.
Child Development from One Year to Two Years Old
From birth to 15 months, a child confidently walks without support, starts running, and learns to climb stairs. By this time, they can eat independently, although not very neatly. Their sleep is reduced to 10-12 hours per day.
By age 2, a child's vocabulary expands to approximately 100 words, allowing them to form sentences, express and explain their desires, and communicate with peers. Parents can expect the first toddler tantrums associated with the "I can do it myself" phase during this time. The child begins to view their mother less as an extension of themselves and more as an individual. It's important not to suppress this desire for independence but to offer tasks that are safe and beneficial for their development, such as assembling their toys, choosing their clothing, dressing themselves, and assisting in the kitchen, among other activities.
Toddlerhood: Ages 2 to 3
A child's development between the ages of 2 and 3 is an exciting and crucial stage during which they acquire new skills, expand their world, and develop various aspects of their personality. Children begin to speak more clearly and coherently during this period. They can name objects, tell simple stories, and ask questions. You can engage with your toddler by having conversations, reading books together, and discussing your impressions of them.
Toddlers find their first friends in daycare, on the playground, and in their surroundings, and learn to establish connections and interact with peers. You may notice that toddlers actively engage in group activities, learn to share, and work as part of a team.
Physical development becomes even more noticeable during this stage as toddlers run, climb, and jump. It's essential to assist toddlers in this phase by providing access to age-appropriate and safe climbing structures and equipment. This helps strengthen their muscles, improve coordination, master their body's movements in space, and enhance motor skills and flexibility.
The “I can do it myself” phase reaches its peak during this period. Toddlers may start learning to dress themselves, take apart toys, make their beds, and assist with everyday tasks. It's essential to encourage them to take on more responsibilities, promoting their development of independence.
Preschool Period: Ages 3-5
After going through stages of active physical and cognitive development, preschoolers discover their creative abilities. They try painting, molding, playing with building blocks, and inventing their own games. Instead of short sentences, they start forming coherent stories and can talk about their feelings, ideas, and thoughts. They also develop listening skills and the ability to communicate with other children and adults.
During this period, educators suggest giving children tasks that will form the basis for practical life skills. These tasks can include board games, lacing, puzzles, and more. Children learn to brush their teeth independently, eat without parental assistance, choose clothing, and tidy up their toys.
It's possible to transition from abstract to more concrete tasks and activities to prepare the child for school. For example, they can recognize letters and numbers, count up to 20, memorize poems, and solve riddles. It's essential not to overload the child, and the duration of activities should be adjusted according to the child's ability to concentrate and work on something with focus. Typically, this is around 15-20 minutes, after which preschoolers need a break and physical activity. Parents should support their children during this period, providing opportunities for creative self-expression and developing various aspects of their personality.
Early School Years (6-8 y.o.)
The most intense childhood tantrums are now a thing of the past. However, the next stage of development brings its own characteristics: children actively acquire new knowledge and skills, learn how to interact with peers and adults, understand social norms and rules, and develop conflict resolution skills and teamwork.
Furthermore, at this age, children can be very energetic. Physical activity, sports, and outdoor games are essential for young schoolchildren, not only for motor development or muscle strengthening but also for coping with stress, pressures, and emotions. Children may show interest in various areas, such as dance, sports, or active indoor games.
It's essential to support and nurture these interests but be prepared for changes. A child's enthusiasm for dance may suddenly switch to a desire to play soccer or swim. Children are not only exploring the world around them but also getting to know themselves, trying to understand what they enjoy the most. So, if you encounter statements like “I don't want to go to this sports club anymore; I want to join another one,” you will do a great service by allowing the child to experiment and search for their passions. Ultimately, they will settle on an activity that they genuinely enjoy and find fulfilling.
On the Threshold of Adolescence: Ages 8-10
Children at this age become more abstract and critical thinkers. They are capable of more complex logical thinking and problem-solving. This also affects their social development: children can now understand others, show empathy, consciously cooperate with peers or adults, and independently resolve conflicts.
Overall, this age stage is a transitional period between childhood and adolescence characterized by intense physical, intellectual, and social development. Parents and educators need to support this development and provide children with opportunities to choose and develop their interests.
We would like to say congratulations; you have successfully navigated this challenge. However, the adolescent age, its difficulties, and the secrets of how both parents and children can go through this period as smoothly as possible are topics for a separate conversation. Regardless, at every stage, an endless supply of unconditional love, patience, and understanding of child psychology is needed. This is the key to ensuring your child becomes self-reliant, confident, healthy, and, most importantly, happy.