Children will develop in different ways and at varying rates, however, most of them will pass through a similar sequence of development as certain steps need to be passed in order for the next step to be achieved. The different aspects of development:
Physical Development is very rapid during the early stages and babies respond from day one; by six months, babies begin to reach for objects! Birth to One Year: Babies should be able to sit unassisted by this time and also crawl or bum shuffle. They may be able to stand and move about in this manner with support from people or objects (tables, chairs, etc.) Solid foods are introduced by this stage. One to Two Years: By this stage, babies are walking, showing curiosity about objects and what they can do and communicating with basic gestures and language sounds(Waving, shaking head, etc. They will be able to feed themselves some finger foods and hold a cup with both hands. They enjoy holding and using objects such as crayons and balls.
Two to Three Years: The child is mobile by this stage and can run, climb and kick. They are able to use a pincer grip to hold pencils and scribble– they enjoy mark making, turning the pages to books and building with tower blocks. At Three Years: Mobility and agility increase and the child is able to jump, walk backwards and sideways as well as walking down steps with one foot on each step. They can have good spatial awareness, can stand on tiptoe and ride tricycles using pedals. They can copy shapes, hold a pencil in a dynamic tripod grasp, paint using a brush and cut paper with scissors. They can use tower blocks to build tall towers by this stage. Intellectual Development begins through exploration with the senses, activity and movement. From the start, babies are sensitive to touch and movement. They respond to sound and to a human voice in particular by two months old. They like sweet tastes and recognise the smell of their mothers breast milk. Babies are also sensitive to light and likes to look at human faces; imitating facial expressions.
One to Four Months: Babies recognise speech sounds and can link voices of familiar people to faces. They can also imitate low or high pitched sounds. Four to Six Months: Babies begin to realise that certain people are permanent, such as their mother. They can reach for and grasp objects and begin to show preferences for certain foods and people. Six to Nine Months: Babies achieve object permanence and begin to understand gestures and signs such as their bottle, a bib, or being taken into their room and placed in their cot. Nine to Twelve Months: Memory develops and babies begin to understand routine. They can also remember an imitate past events such as waving good-bye or blowing a kiss. One to Two Years: A child can follow simple instructions and begins to learn through trial and error. They begin mark making. Children begin to play make-believe games and think out loud.
Two Years: Improved memory allows children to understand concepts, cause and effect. They can talk about an absent object. Three Years: A child can begins to develop symbolic behaviour – they can pretend, play simple games and use one object to represent another. They can also identify common colours. Emotional and Social Development is evident in a babies smile in response to their carer during the first 5-6 weeks. They often imitate facial expressions and express enjoyment by moving their bodies in response. Babies are still exploring and figuring out where they begin and where they end. One to Four Months: Babies are very responsive to their main carer or preferred persons and will smile, turn to face them, recognise their features and also find comfort in that person. Babies can smile and enjoy sucking. Babies love cuddles and attention at this stage and will begin to stay awake for longer.
They show obvious signs of pleasure and enjoyment in certain routines or people. Four to Six Months: By this stage, most babies have recognisable sleep patterns and are show trust and security. Six to Nine Months: Babies are more aware by this time and have formed strong attachments – they may begin to show discomfort around strangers and cry when their carer leaves the room. They also respond to others feelings and may offer toys to others. They can now feed themselves by hand and crawl about. Nine to Twelve Months: Although still preferring to be in the presence of a familiar adult, babies can now spend periods of time playing by themselves; they also enjoy songs and actions and find peek-a-boo games amusing. Imitation increases and babies can also drink from a cup with help – they begin to show definite signs of like or dislike. Babies may also try to co-operate with being dressed. One to Two Years: Identity begins to develop and children express their needs with words or actions.
Children enjoy walking and trying to do other things for themselves – such as getting dressed. Two Years: Children become curious about their environment and explore on impulse. Although now able to express themselves, they become frustrated when this fails. They can help dress themselves and go to the toilet with some help. Three Years: Pretend play helps children to de-centre as they explore how others might feel, think or act. They become aware of gender roles and start to make special friends. As imagination develops, children become easily afraid of things such as the dark or pretend monsters, etc. They begin to learn about negotiation. Spiritual Development begins at birth and is about developing a sense of self and others. Awe and wonder are present especially in the first year and relationships are vital – loving and being loved are core experiences for babies. One to Three Years: Children have formed a strong sense of moral sense and can think beyond themselves about others.
Development and learning are very closely connected. Development is about the general way in which a child functions and depends on physical progress, whereas learning is about cognitive development and involves thought, memory, perception and concentration. Children need to develop certain skills in order to learn new things. For example, babies need to have developed certain balance and muscles before they are able to learn how to crawl or walk – thus learning and development are both part of the same process. Variations may occur in the rate and sequence of development due to factors such as: Level of stimulation – Babies and young children need plenty of play, stimulation and exorcise in order to allow their brains to grow and develop. Children may be held back in their learning if they are not offered stimulation to develop or may develop more quickly if they are offered plenty of stimulation and learning opportunities.
Disabilities and learning difficulties – Children with disabilities or learning difficulties may develop at different rates or in a different sequence to other children and should be offered every opportunity to ensure that they are not held back in their learning. Giftedness – Some children may show promise in a particular area early on in life, such as music, dance or mathematics and should be provided with a rich and stimulation environment which encourages them to extend their thinking, understand and talk about their feelings and understand themselves and others. The importance of people – Babies depend on adults to bring interesting experiences to them as they are unable to move about and reach for things themselves. Babies cannot learn much on their own and it is important to bring experiences to them during this vital stage of learning. Research has shown that different children have different learning styles and learn better through some channels than others. These channels are: Visual (Learning by looking), auditory(Learning by listening) and kinaesthetic (learning by feedback from body movement and tactile experiences.
Different researchers believe that children learn through all of their senses and call this multi-sensory learning. This basically states that even though a child may prefers learning through a particular sense, their learning would be best supported by providing experiences for all senses regardless. Play is vital to a child’s development and helps children to become imaginative and develop symbolism. Play also helps children to apply their learning and begin to try new things out and make sense of what they have been learning.
Q.1.3. Pre-conception, pregnancy and birth can have effects on development: Pre-conceptual care can reduce risks to the baby if both partners work to reduce known risks such as smoking and alcohol consumption before trying to conceive. This creates the best possible conditions for the embryo to grow and develop into a healthy baby, Pregnancy is a very important period and there are different factors which may affect the growth and development of the foetus whilst in the womb, including diet, mother’s age, maternal health, smoking, alcohol consumption, substance misuse and infection.
It is important for a mother to take care of her body during pregnancy to ensure the optimum environment for her baby to develop in. Being born prematurely may cause a baby to need help breathing, feeding and keeping warm. Babies that are born prematurely are vulnerable and have a higher risk of developing hearing or sight problems and learning difficulties than those who are born at full term. Q.1.4. Current research focuses on the brain, how it forms and what happens to it when children learn. It helps us to understand the importance of early experiences and how the development of a babies brain is shaped by their experiences of the world. Research helps to to realise the importance of things such as sleep, healthy diet, physical exercise, sensory experiences, emotional security and indoor/outdoor experiences.
I have recorded observation of my key children and used these in order to fill in a development wheel and next steps plan for these children.
The indoor environment is responsive to the development and learning needs of babies in our setting by providing activities and toys that will help their learning and development at different stages. This includes a baby mobile, rattles, a water tray and activities and a sensory centre, as well as activities such as the song box or nursery rhymes. We also have treasure baskets designed for different ages and around different themes, a play kitchen, reading corner and plenty of balls, threading activities, building blocks, soft toys, and plenty of messy play activities. These provide children with variety and security to learn and explore all aspects of development. We also have proper mealtimes at which children sit at the table with cutlery and glasses and are encouraged to learn how to use these tools on their own.
One of my key children does not enjoy messy play – she prefers to stay clean and her favourite activity is rolling a ball. I want her to explore more messy play activities so that she can learn about textures and mark making. I have designed an activity where I filled the water table with soapy water and lots of balls hoping that the balls will encourage her to play with the soapy water and help her to be less afraid of messy play.
We have a play kitchen in the setting and often set it up for the children in the morning: We put the pots on the stove and lay out spoons, spatulas and other kitchen equipment. We add soft toy foods and also fill the pots and bowls with dry pasta and oats. This allows the children to play, explore different textures and also learn transferring skills when they either pour or attempt to transfer the past or oats with spoons, tongs or other cutlery.
Children need consistent, warm and affectionate relationships in order to feel secure and develop. A key person ensures that a child will get this type of relationship in the setting and learn how to form secure, loving relationships.
Babies and young children learn and develop best from a basis of loving, secure relationships with carers and key persons in the settings as they learn to make sense of the world through these relationships. Children who do not have these types of relationships may find it difficult to settle and to enjoy being in a setting. This may lead to difficulties with concentration, engaging with others and with their general ability to learn.
Poor quality attachments may have detrimental affects on the development of babies and young children as they need to be able to trust others in order to feel emotionally secure. Without this, children may begin to show anti-social behaviour and aggression towards others. Poor quality attachments may also lead to youth offending. Babies and young children with poor quality attachments may show less interest in exploring their environments and display anxiety or depression later on in life.
In the setting, I am careful to be sensitive to babies and give them time to respond. I use my facial expressions, body language, eye contact and tone of voice sensitively and do not expect a rushed response from children – I also accept that they may sometimes need support to form their response.
The babies in the setting really enjoy water play and I often plan an activity around this. I will fill the water table up with water and objects such as shells, spades, bowls and/or plastic sea animals and clear the area. Sometimes we will look at floating objects. I engage with the children and encourage them to splash, float object and pour. The children are allowed to get wet and make a mess and we just change them afterwards and mop up!
Babies express their emotions, preferences and needs in unique ways and make sense of the world through the responses that they receive. Carers need to be responsive by forming attachments, communicating, providing a relationship of trust and security and by being reflective and tuning into to each individual child.
Transitions may have a great effect on babies and young children and can influence their emotional development especially. It is important that these are handled carefully so that a child is able to settle down and form attachments and feel safe and secure enough to explore and learn.
Babies and young children require periods of quite to rest and sleep and this is very important to their health and learning. Sleep helps memory to embed rich learning experiences with people, objects, events and places. Babies will have their own different needs and will not all want to sleep or rest at the same time, this needs to be taken on a case by case basis.
Parents and carers have a central role in the lives of their children. They: They are the first and most enduring carers and educators of their children. They know and understand their child best.
They have specific legal responsibilities towards their children. They give their children a strong sense of identity and belonging. They have skills and experiences that can be of value in the early years setting. They are partners with early years practitioners in the care and education of their child.
In our setting, we exchange information with parents and carers on a regular basis. This is usually done verbally during drop off and collection but we also send diaries home. We also have accident forms, medication forms, incident at home forms and will often set up meetings with parents where necessary.
There are many ways of working in partnership with parents and these allow the needs of the child to come first and be dealt with most effectively: Staff communicate daily with parents about a child’s individual needs. When dropping the child off, staff normally enquire about how the child is, how they slept and ate, etc. The parents will share any new information or concerns about the child and visa versa. This is one of the most important aspects of our partnership with parents as it allows us to work closely together, communicate any important information and make sure that information is shared and each child’s needs are met.
We keep records of children’s observations and take photographs, sending these home with parents in learning journeys so that they can view their child’s progress and make any comments. Parents enjoy this opportunity to see their child’s progress and also share any concerns or information about home progress. We make sure to have all information about a child and their routine before they start at the setting and do our best to follow their routine. This helps us to understand the child better, help them to settle in and make sure that attachments are formed by responding to each child’s individual needs and preferences. Meetings are set up where needed to discuss a child and make plans when needed.