We often read articles and speak to Early Childhood Development experts such as Paediatricians and Occupational Therapists, who assess a child’s progress based on developmental milestones. Being a part of many mommy groups, I often find some moms who say that this focus on milestones is misguided. The problem is that many don’t really understand why looking at milestones as a guideline is important. Some even say things like “My child didn’t crawl and she is fine”, but what measures as fine? I’m not talking about major problems or delays in development, but things that we only see later in life. It is also important to note that these developmental skills that are learnt and developed through exploration and play, is the foundation of other skills used later in life. Investing in the development of your child especially in the first few years cannot be emphasised enough.
The easiest way to explore this would be through examples, so here goes. When a baby is born, he can’t see or hear very well and his sensations are far from perfect. When looking at visual stimulation babies need to be exposed to high contrast colours and patterns. These can be found in a high contrast baby book, the Skidz 0-6 month Clever Activity Box or you can make some yourself. In the earliest months a baby lays down the main ‘visual pathways’ of his brain. The cortex of his brain has 6 layers of cell which transmit different signals from the retina in the eyes to the back of the brain. On layer for example transmits vertical lines, another horizontal. Others will deal with circles, triangle and squares. If, for example, a baby would only see horizontal lines, then when he crawled or walked he would continually be banging into the legs of tables and chairs because the visual pathways which where laid earlier could not process vertical lines.
Here are some more examples of how what a child physically does in the first few years of life plays a major part in how well he will develop other abilities.
|Part of brain stimulated:||Activity in early life:||Leads to:|
|The Brainstem: Controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body.||Grasping, touching, crawling, walking, reaching, turning, pushing and pulling.||Hand-eye coordination|
Gross motor skills
|The Cerebellum: coordinates voluntary movements such as posture, balance, coordination, and speech, resulting in smooth and balanced muscular activity.||Spinning, tumbling, balancing, dancing, listening, swinging and rolling.||Balance, sporting ability, bicycle riding, writing skills, fine motor coordination and reading skills.|
|The Emotional brain (amygdala and temporal lobe): Emotions, like fear and love as well as brain functions, like memory and attention.||Cuddling, stroking and playing together.||Love, security, bonding, social skills, cooperation and confidence.|
|The cortex: associated with higher brain function such as thought and action||Stacking toys, building puzzles, recognising and making patterns, playing word games, repetitive play and music.||Math, logic, problem solving, fluent reading, spelling, writing, a good vocabulary, painting, memory and musical ability.|
Another point to consider is that for a child learns from concrete and active experiences. To understand an abstract concept he would first have to understand the physical concept. For instance, to understand the abstract concept of roundness, he must first have experienced real round things like a ball. There are endless examples that could be explored but the conclusion is the same. Experiences and active play to reach milestones are extremely important for future successes and that is why SKidZ Clever Activity Boxes is such a great program for children.
It gives you as a parent the tools to stimulate and play with your child, which encourages not only his physical ability, but also sets a firm foundation for healthy relationships, where he feels loved and secure. The program has been developed by 4 experts in early childhood development and is divided into 5 boxes so that you only need to buy the appropriate one at a time. Each box comes with all the equipment needed to do the activities as well as a step by step manual, with easy to follow instructions as well as developmental information, so that you know what areas you are developing through that activity. The range is divided into the following ages 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months and 2-5 years. More info on this wonderful product can be found on the website http://skidz.co.za. All orders are also placed from the online shop on the website. For some up to date news, articles and specials follow SKidz on facebook at www.facebook.com/skidzsa.