Every single parent worries about whether their child is developing in the way that they should. The first thing to know is that while there are books and books on child development, children do not read those books. They all develop in their own way and at different rates, which doesn't always follow the patterns that the "What To Expect" books dictate. For example, if a child is "supposed" to complete an activity or milestone by a certain age and doesn't, they are more likely to have anxious parents worrying that their child is behind. Usually, the case is that this child is right on track for their own developmental curve, it just doesn't follow what the textbooks say.
It's important that parents realize that their children haven't read the parenting books and they may develop at varying rates - even down to the children in the same house! That being said, there is no reason not to watch their development and encourage them the best way you know how. If you learn what the most common reading milestones by age are, what the rates of speech should be - you can do some minor checkups according to age and decide whether their development is a cause for concern. As we said, most of the time the worrying is for nothing, but that doesn't mean that your child couldn't use encouragement and a boost to continue to develop well. A child can't tell whether something is right or wrong in their learning, but their minds can better process information when they have the right support for it.
You want your children to grow up intelligent, confident and healthy, and if you can give them a boost into that, it'll make you feel like a better parent and less anxious about the whole thing. There are various types of intelligence, so where some children excel in some ways, they may lack in others at first. It all catches up in the end, and that's the thing to focus on. For example, if your child is running and jumping, climbing and crawling but not speaking yet, there is a chance their brains are working on their physical development skills before working on the linguistic side of things. If their comprehension is intact, there is less to worry about than if their comprehension is lacking. You see, there are many ways your children will learn and it doesn't mean that they won't ever talk, or ever climb - it just means that they need a little more support than usual. So, here are some of the best ways that you can improve and encourage your child's development.
- Bust Out The Lego. Children and building go hand in hand. Blocks, books, pillows - you name it, a young child will build a tower from it and let their imaginations go wild. You can break out the Lego and watch as they learn to color coordinate, to build castles and houses and towers as tall as them. It's a great way to increase their fine motor skills, their reading as they read instructions, their color matching skills and more Lego can promote excellent spatial awareness and creativity in your children, and there is nothing wrong with children being hooked on playing with their blocks. You can really watch their imagination come to life when they engage with Lego, and if you can get your kids interested in them, you're going to improve their development from the get-go.
- Log Onto Minecraft. While you may not be happy with encouraging screen time, children today are living among technology. Taking it away from them is going to leave them at a disadvantage, especially when you can use technology to improve their development. Minecraft is one of those games that can be played on a games console or a computer, and it is the digital Lego you didn't have growing up. Not only can you encourage your children to use and learn more about technology, your child is going to be able to expand their imagination beyond the physical Lego in the lounge. They can create, build, color. re-assemble and take things apart on screen. They can build a whole world and learn to gather materials to strategize their base. Minecraft will promote fine motor skill development and creativity development at a more advanced level. This isn't a one-off game, either. They will continue playing it for many years, and your children can explore so many other features including the skill of coding. HTML is one more language we all need to understand in the world today!
- Hunt For Treasure. It's one of the most fun activities that you can introduce to a child. You can bury fake gold coins in the sandpit outside and task your child with finding all of the coins. This treasure hunt idea is fun for both parents and children, and you can get creative with freezing small toys into ice trays and using salt to melt it all and find the toys in the middle. Clearly, scavenger hunts and riddles, treasure hunts and more will help your children to learn how to think critically. They'll have to learn how to find something and this can give them the encouragement to enhance their perception skills and problem-solving skills, too. It's very similar to the "ball under the cup" game you'd play when they were tiny, but on a more complicated scale. Kids will absolutely love it!
- Reading Together. Helping your children to learn to read begins in the early years when you do flashcards and bedtime stories. It's something that continues on as they get older and it encourages them to learn more and do better with their books as they get older. Reading opens their minds to new worlds and new experiences, and reading flashcards helps them to improve their memory skills, too.
- Coloring Time. Whether you want to introduce your children to chalks or paint, coloring pencils or felt tips, your children will benefit from coloring with you in books or on larger sheets of paper. They can learn the color spectrum through rainbow songs, through developing their artistic side and through developing useful motor skills. Painting and coloring precisely is a big skill for children to master and you can be a part of that. When you introduce your children to a range of new colors, you are going to help them to relax at the same time. Coloring is creative but it's a repetitive thing to do that will encourage your children to enjoy and it is a soothing activity for you to enjoy together. Children can reduce their stress with coloring in and you won't see how much joy they get from it until you watch their imagination expand.
- Singing & Poetry. Remember when we talked about developing speech? With children, it often starts with repetitive noises and singing. Learning to sing nursery rhymes can help them to develop their speech, and poetry cna help them to learn new words that rhyme and are filled with alliteration. Colorful books are attractive and poetry is soothing to the ear. Singing nursery rhymes and clapping along to words can help to improve your child's memory and enhance their speaking skills.
Children develop at their own rate and in their own way, and it is imperative that you take the time to figure out what their own development pattern is. Your child deserves all of the support you can give them, so take the time to watch how they are developing and support them where you can!
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.