TOPIC MATERIALS (READING for new topic)
1. Optional: I Can Play! Young Children's Perspectives of Health
For additional information, the following is recommended: "'I Can Play!' Young Children's Perspectives of Health," by Almqvist, Hellnäs, Stefansson, and Granlund, from Pediatric Rehabilitation (2006).
2. Optional: The Rourke Baby Record Infant/Child Maintenance Guide: Do Doctors Use It, Do They Find It Useful, and Does Using It Improve Their Well-Baby Visit Records?
For additional information, the following is recommended: "The Rourke Baby Record Infant/Child Maintenance Guide: Do Doctors Use It, Do They Find It Useful, and Does Using It Improve Their Well-Baby Visit Records?" by Rourke, Godwin, Rourke, Pearce, and Bean, from BMC Family Practice (2009).
3. Optional: WHO Motor Development Study: Windows of Achievement for Six Gross Motor Development Milestones
For additional information, the following is recommended: "WHO Motor Development Study: Windows of Achievement for Six Gross Motor Development Milestones," by de Onis, from Acta Paediatrica (2006).
4. Optional: The Wonder Years: Helping Your Baby and Young Child Successfully Negotiate the Developmental Milestones
For additional information, the following is recommended: "The Wonder Years: Helping Your Baby and Young Child Successfully Negotiate the Developmental Milestones," by Breton, from Library Journal (2006).
Assessing Health and Wellness
As children age, they become able to attempt and master continuously more complex activities and skills. We expect that children will develop or perform more complex tasks in five basic areas:
- · Gross Motor skills include walking, running, jumping, and other activities that require the use of large groups of muscles.
- · Fine Motor skills use smaller groups of muscles to perform tasks such as eating, writing, and drawing.
- · Language development includes vocabulary and the ability to communicate and be understood by others.
- · Cognitive development is the ability to understand, to learn, and use thinking skills.
- · Social behavior includes those skills that are necessary to get along with others.
Developmental Milestones are defined as a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age (University of Michigan, 2010). Although we can expect children to perform the skill or task at a certain age, because each child is unique the specific age for each child will vary. We must take into consideration developmental milestones and the individual development of each child. For example, while most children begin walking around one year of age, some children walk as early as nine months and some don't find the need to be independently mobile until 14 or 15 months.
Do we consider those at the ends of the developmental spectrum unusual? It depends on the child. It also depends on a variety of other factors, including development in all other areas as well as illness, nutrition, and other factors that impact development. Premature infants, for example, will follow a modified developmental schedule.
The University of Michigan Health System Web site provides a comprehensive resource for details on developmental milestones that match various ages and stages of childhood development (University of Michigan Health System, 2010). The Centers for Disease Control Web site provides ages and stages information as well as an interactive developmental chart, helpful videos, and downloadable resources that can be used in the classroom and handed out to parents (Centers for Disease Control, 2010).
The Teacher's Role in Supporting Development
The early childhood teacher plays a significant role in the development of young children. It is the goal and responsibility of the early childhood curriculum to support the natural development of young children in all five areas of development. This is done through the day-to-day activities that children experience in the early childhood setting. When teachers plan curriculum experiences for young children, they must keep in mind the natural developmental milestones and build the curriculum to provide experiences that will both support and challenge development in all areas. In addition, teachers must keep in mind the specific development of their individual students and modify the curriculum to provide experiences for those children who are developmentally ahead or developmentally delayed.
In order to know which children need curricular modification, teachers must be in regular communication with parents. Parents must also provide teachers with the necessary information so that teachers are able to plan successful experiences for groups and individual children.
Concern for appropriately matching the early childhood curriculum to both age-level groups and individual children has led to the publication of a variety of books, articles, DVDs and other materials on the subject. Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8, edited by Carol Copple and Sue Bredekamp, is widely recognized as the standard for appropriate early childhood curriculum. It should be on the resources shelf of every early childhood center and in the possession of every early childhood teacher. It can be purchased from the publisher, the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This curriculum guide provides an invaluable resource in matching curriculum and activities to children's developmental levels.
A child who does not reach a specific developmental milestone within the typical age range is considered to be developmentally delayed. A child who is three to six months behind normal development is also considered to be developmentally delayed. For example, if a child does not walk by 14 months but does crawl, pull up, or walk with the aid of an adult, the child is showing signs of walking and will, with little doubt, be walking independently within a few weeks. If, however, the child is not showing any of these signs by 16 to 20 months, the child would most likely be considered to be developmentally delayed in the area of walking (How Kids Develop, 2008). Children may be considered to be developmentally delayed in all areas of development, in one area of development, or just in one skill.
There are two factors that may influence developmental delays:
- · A genetic developmental delay is due to a chromosomal abnormality. An example of this would be Down syndrome (How Kids Develop, 2008).
- · Environmental factors that put children at risk for developmental delays include exposure to teratogens either before or after birth, such as chemicals, diseases, and other toxins.
Identifying Developmental Delays
In order to identify a specific developmental delay, both developmental screenings and developmental evaluations are used. These are done by those who are specially trained in this area. Typically, a classroom teacher will not have the training necessary to administer these screenings and evaluations. A pediatrician, developmental specialist, psychologist, or a combination of specialists will be required to identify developmental delays (How Kids Develop, 2008).
If a developmental delay is identified, a variety of services are available through most public school systems.
If a child is identified as having a developmental delay, it is imperative that early intervention take place. Intervention in one area will affect development in all areas. Development is consecutive; early intervention prevents a child from missing a step in ladder of development. Early intervention also helps to build the child's self esteem (How Kids Develop, 2008). Lack of early intervention may cause a child to feel unsuccessful in school or be embarrassed to participate. Above all, children need to feel that school is a place where they are safe and can be successful.
How Kids Develop. (n.d.). What is developmental delay and what services are available if I think my child might be delayed? Retrieved June 8, 2010, from http://www.howkidsdevelop.com/developDevDelay.html.#riskFactors
Centers for Disease Control. (2010). Learn the signs. Act early. Retrieved August 14, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html
Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (Eds.). (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. National Association for the Education of Young Children.
University of Michigan Health System. (2010). Your child: Development and behavior resources: A guide to information and support for parents. Retrieved August 14, 2010, from http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/devmile.htm