As a parent, you are your child’s first educator. While caring for your toddler’s needs is important, monitoring their milestones and ensuring they learn the best they can is just as crucial.
While you might think you have a good understanding of where your child is at in terms of cognitive development, children are continuing to surprise experts and parents in studies and research efforts of all types.
Not only does tracking your child’s growth help you understand them better, but it also serves as an excellent way to pick apart the wonderful and unique ways your child differentiates themselves from other kids – particularly, in how they play, learn, speak, and act.
No child is the same, so it’s essential to recognize how your child interacts with their surroundings. By abiding by the right practices, you can identify their individual traits and help them grow into unique and healthy, well-rounded adults.
Let’s explore the ways you can track your child’s development.
Monitor their language
The first step to monitoring your child’s development is learning how they communicate through language, and how they experience learning their first words. Communication is an important aspect of any relationship, and what you teach children in their early years can have a significant impact on how they develop as individuals.
There are many ways that you can track how your child communicates with you or people in their environment.
For example, you may keep track of when your child begins to babble or say their first word. Most children begin to babble as they approach 6 months, for instance. You may also hear them utter their first word between 10–15 months of age. They’re also expected to speak and form sentences by around 12 to 18 months old.
No child’s development will be the same. However, most children do start speaking normally, even if they encounter slight delays in their time frame. Some parents may also be gifted with children who have a headstart in the learning process – speaking in full sentences or communicating with gestures earlier than usual.
Nonetheless, it’s vital to pay attention to the developmental milestones your child passes in order to spot areas that may need clinical attention.
Label things around the house
Once your child becomes more aware of their surroundings, they’ll grow more curious and perceptive of things around the house. One of the best ways to capitalise on this is to foster their learning by making rooms around the house a deep part of their learning process.
For example, you can post sticky notes on your kitchen equipment like rolling pins and spatulas to help your child read and recognize words. You may even take learning a step further, such as asking questions like ‘What item do we have around the house that starts with the letter S?’; encouraging the recollection of words.
This is a simple way to encourage language development in children. If your child starts taking to this learning mode, you can introduce more complex assignments, like asking them to create a sentence with a particular item in the kitchen and so on.
Perform the observation method
The observation method is when you, as a parent, watch how your child interacts with others and develop on their own. The method is primarily non-confrontational, with almost no interruptions to keep the kid’s experience as rich as possible.
Even though this may appear to be a fairly normal task – simply monitoring your kid – there’s a lot of mindfulness required in the process. By observing your child, you get to learn how their gestures, behaviours, and actions evolve over time.
You may examine how they interact with new people or things in various social settings, and how it may influence the manner they act in future interactions.
This is a standard practice among educators in childcare too, as they’d need to provide feedback to parents about their child’s learning experience.
Examples of observations in childcare include:
- Photo observations. Keeping a photo collection of your child as they progress through various life stages, keeping in mind their changes.
- Time samples. Using a time sample technique, you could observe patterns throughout the day that your child partakes in, such as when your child eats meals or goes to bed.
- Running records. These are present-tense narrative accounts detailing what your kid is currently doing. (i.g. Ben talks to Mandy and grabs a toy in the toy box. Ben goes back to Mandy and calls Brian and so on.)
- Jottings. Short, present-tense written accounts of what your kid has done. Typically less detailed than running records, and primarily concerned with recording important occurrences.
- Anecdotal record. A past-tense account of what your child has done in the past. This can include personal remarks and observations made by the parent regarding their child’s behaviour.
The observation method is one of the best ways to formally track your kid’s progress. As a rule, it’s necessary to note down the background information, situation, behaviours, and learning disposition your kid carries throughout the experience to track their development.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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