Helping Children Get Where They Need to Be

Helping Children Get Where They Need to Be
Dr. Connie Jo Smith, CCR&R Director
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
- Lewis Carroll
The first step for helping a child grow and develop to the best of his/her ability is for the
adults supporting her to understand child development milestones. Knowing what
children typically are able to do at what ages, lets you know what to watch for and how
to plan the environment and activities to meet their needs. Understanding typical
development helps adults have reasonable expectations for children so that activities
are not too easy, nor too hard.
Most of us know that a one-month-old baby should not be expected to walk! But do you
know when children typically begin to walk? Do you know at what age a baby generally
makes sounds like “mama?” Do you know how many words a two-year-old usually
speaks or how fast they learn words? Do you know at what
age a child typically can walk up and down steps with alternating feet, or hop, or skip or say all of the speech sounds
correctly? Knowing these developmental milestones can help
you know how to observe to see if a child seems to be on
target or not.
Of course, some children develop slower than others even
when they have no disabilities or delays. But if development
does not seem to be typical, the sooner a child can be tested
for a potential disability or delay, the faster special help can be
provided. Child care providers and teachers can work with
parents or guardians to utilize First Steps or Public Schools to
obtain needed assessments when a disability or delay is
Watching children and comparing their actions to developmental milestones in all
domains (language, social-emotional, physical, and cognitive or intellectual) can help
you plan daily activities. For example, once you know that at three years a typically
developing child should be able to walk up and down steps using alternating feet, you
can look to see if they are able to do this. Then be sure to provide the opportunity for
them to go up and down steps so they can get the hang of it. Sometimes classrooms do
not have steps so you may have to go for short walks in the building or outside. Gross
motor or playground equipment may also be used for this purpose. Working with
parents and guardians to provide practice beyond the classroom is also important.
117 Jones Jaggers Hall 1906 College Heights Blvd #11098 Bowling Green, KY 42101-1098
270-745-2216 or 800-621-5908 Fax: 270-745-7089
Another example is helping a two-year-old build their vocabulary.
Keep count of a child’s words and see if they use 100. Try using
new words with them every day. Say the words over and over –
maybe rhyme them with other words, sing the new words, show
pictures of the new words, and have fun with them. Count the
words again in a few weeks and see if the vocabulary of the child
has increased.
There are dozens of ways to help children learn those things that
they are ready to learn, without pressuring them to learn things
for which they are not quite ready. Observation of children, with
developmental milestone handouts and checklists, will lead to
planning meaningful (and fun) activities that are appropriate for
each child.
Try your hand at a free online assessment, Ready to Read for 4 Year Olds. It includes
20 questions that the child answers while you work through computer screens with an
easy click.
Taken from “The Child Care Professional” The Newsletter of the Child Care Resource and Referral at
Western Kentucky University (October, 2008)
Volume XV, Number 10
Copyright © 2009 WKU Child Care Resource and Referral
Funded in part by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services through the University of Kentucky Research Foundation.
Equal Education and Employment Opportunities.
117 Jones Jaggers Hall 1906 College Heights Blvd #11098 Bowling Green, KY 42101-1098
270-745-2216 or 800-621-5908 Fax: 270-745-7089