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Why understanding developmental milestones is important
How to recognize developmental milestones
- Objective 1
- Objective 2
- Key Points
Learning Objective 1Why understanding developmental milestones is important
The best way to monitor children's development is to track their developmental milestones.
What are developmental milestones?
Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age.
Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye” are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act, and move. You see children reach milestones every day. Though all children develop at their own pace, most children reach developmental milestones at or about the same age.
Ms. Carolyn discusses the importance of tracking developmental milestones
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Developmental milestones offer important clues about a child’s developmental health.
Reaching milestones at the typical ages shows a child is developing as expected. Reaching milestones much earlier means a child may be advanced compared with his or her peers of the same age.
Not reaching milestones or reaching them much later than children the same age can be the earliest indication that a child may have a developmental delay.
Some milestones are especially important.
Not reaching those by a certain age is a developmental warning sign or red flag (examples given in learning objective 2). Children who don’t reach milestones may need extra support and services to reach their full potential.
Keep in mind that developmental progress is not always steady. You may see changes in development around important life events like the birth of a new sibling. By tracking each child’s developmental milestones over time, you will have a better understanding of his or her development and a better basis to judge if concern is warranted.
Developmental milestones fall into categories of development called domains.
This domain is about how children interact with others and show emotion.
Calms down when spoken to or picked up
Looks at a few pages in a book with you
Comforts others who are hurt or sad, like hugging a crying friend
Also: Pointing to show an airplane flying overhead, crying when mom or dad leaves, and imitating other children.
This domain is about how children express their needs and share what they are thinking, as well as understand what is said to them.
Waves bye bye
Points to ask for something or to get help
Names things in a book when you point and ask what is that
Also: Following directions and speaking so others understand what they’re saying.
Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving):
This domain is about how children learn new things and solve problems. It includes how children explore their environment to figure things out – whether by looking at the world around them, putting objects in their mouths, or dropping something to watch it fall. This domain also includes “academic” skills like counting and learning letters and numbers.
Reaches to grab a toy she wants
Bangs two things together
Stacks at least two small objects, like blocks
Also: An infant staring at mom’s face as she leans over his crib.
This domain is about how children use their bodies. It includes many milestones parents excitedly wait for.
Takes a few steps on his own
Catches a large ball most of the time
Eats with a spoon
Some developmental milestones fit more than one domain.
- Pretending to be something else during play with others (teacher, superhero, dog) can be a social/emotional milestone as well as cognitive milestone;
- Following directions can be a language/communication milestone as well as a cognitive milestone; and
- Playing peek-a-boo can be a cognitive as well as social/emotional milestone.
Looking for developmental milestones in every child is important.
The most important reason for monitoring each child’s development isto determine whether a child’s development is on track.
Looking for developmental milestones is important to understanding each child’s development and behavior.
Milestones can help explain a child’s behavior. For example, if a 1-year-old cries when her dad leaves the classroom in the morning, she is showing a typical 12-month milestone that signifies healthy development.
Ms. Carolyn talks about spotting milestones like dumping and sorting
Learning Objective 2How to recognize developmental milestones
In your work caring for and teaching children, you are in a perfect position to observe the developmental milestones that mark how children play, learn, speak, act, and move alongside others of their age.
Below are some examples of developmental milestones and especially important warning signs of possible developmental delay for 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months of age.
Keep in mind these are only a few examples for each age. More complete lists and lists for other ages (2 months-5 years) can be found at www.cdc.gov/Milestones.
Milestones at 6 Months
- Social/Emotional - Knows familiar people; Laughs
- Language/Communication - Takes turns making sounds with you
- Cognitive - Reaches to grab a toy he wants
- Movement/Physical - Leans on hands to support himself when sitting
Milestones at 9 Months
- Social/Emotional - Is shy, clingy, or fearful around strangers.
- Language/Communication - Makes different sounds like “mamamama” and “babababa”
- Cognitive - Smiles or laughs when you play peek-a-boo
- Movement/Physical - Gets to a sitting position by herself
Milestones at 12 Months
- Social/Emotional - Plays games with you, like pat-a-cake
- Language/Communication - Calls a parent “mama” or “dada” or another special name
- Cognitive - Puts something in a container
- Movement/Physical - Pulls up to stand
Milestones at 18 Months
- Social/Emotional - Moves away from you, but looks to make sure you are close by
- Language/Communication - Tries to say three or more words besides “mama” or “dada”
- Cognitive - Copies you doing chores, like sweeping with a broom
- Movement/Physical - Walks without holding on to anyone or anything; tries to use a spoon
Milestones at 2 Years
- Social/Emotional - Looks at your face to see how to react in a new situation
- Language/Communication - Says at least two words together, like “More milk.”
- Cognitive - Plays with more than one toy at the same time, like putting toy food on a toy plate
- Movement/Physical - Runs; Eats with a spoon
Milestones at 3 Years
- Social/Emotional - Notices other children and joins them to play
- Language/Communication - Talks with you in conversation using at least two back-and-forth exchanges
- Cognitive - Draws a circle, when you show him how
- Movement/Physical - Puts on some clothes by himself, like loose pants or a jacket
- The best way to monitor children’s development is to track their developmental milestones
- Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age
- Developmental milestones offer important clues about a child’s developmental health
- Developmental milestones fall into categories of development called “domains”
Apply What You've Learned
Think of a child you know who is under the age of 5. Think of how that child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves. List at least two ways the child has shown milestones reached in each of the developmental domains.
Use the milestone checklists at www.cdc.gov/Milestones or download the Milestone Tracker app to help.
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You must pass all module quizzes to receive continuing education credit.
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