The physical development of a baby in its first six months of life shows limited range of movement but the beginnings of an ability to respond to stimulus around them. They show their reaction to people, sounds and movement by turning their head toward whatever attracts their attention. They will watch an adult’s face whilst feeding, but have already begun to shows signs of recognition as they will smile when familiar people are around them either because they can see them or hear their voice.
Physically, they are capable of reaching up to hold their own foot, but are not able yet to roll over on their own. They are able to look and to reach for objects which once in their hands, invariably ends up in their mouth! Between six months and one year old, a baby’s response to their surroundings has developed so that they now have identified their own name. When the baby’s name is said, they will respond by turning and looking up. At this stage, babies are also able to raise their arms in anticipation of being lifted and are able to reach out for food.
There are further physical developments before babies reach one year old – they are able to sit on their own without support and are no longer limited to lieing on their backs. They can roll over on to their tummies and back again. They gain a sense of movement by starting to crawl or shuffle along on their bottoms and the idea of standing by pulling or pushing against people or objects to help themselves up. In play, babies will be able to pat and poke objects, pass them from one hand to the other and look for things that have been hidden or dropped and not presume that they have just disappeared.
From one to two years old, awareness and response to surroundings has developed sufficiently for a child to be able to wave good bye, to point or make noises to indicate to an adult which object is wanted and also to shake their head and say ‘no’. Sitting alone is no problem and they are able to feed themselves. Their movement develops so that instead of crawling and shuffling, they begin to walk and eventually to crawl upstairs.
Their play shows that they bend down to pick up objects from the floor using their thumb and first two fingers to grip, they will be able to bang objects together, to build with a few bricks and hold a crayon in their palm to make marks on a paper. This will usually reveal that a child is already developing a preference for using one hand. Toys will be pulled and pushed while walking and pictures in a book will be enjoyed. At two years old, a child has physical developed enough to be able to throw objects and to kick a ball. Before they are three, they will be able to kneel to play, use a pencil to make marks on paper (and walls! and scribble in circles. They will have developed enough fine motor skills to be able to pour liquids and build a larger tower. Between three and seven years old, physical capabilities develop so that a child can walk on tip toes, they can jump with their feet together, walk up and down stairs and climb with increasing confidence. Fine motor skills develop so that they can catch a ball if it’s thrown gently, they can thread beads on a lace or string and they can control a brush to paint. Although children have already started to feed themselves, at this stage they will also use eating utensils with growing competency.
At four years old, a child can not only catch a ball, but can throw it with some aim. In play, they will be able to use scissors and hold a pencil sufficiently that they can draw a recognisable picture such as a house or people. They can use their feet to pedal a bike. By five years old, a child can hop, catch a ball and kick a ball with aim. Fine motor skills have developed so that they can handle a pencil with control. This means that they can now write some letters and copy shapes. They can sew with a needle to form stitches. Between six and seven years old, a child can skip, climb confidently and jump from a height.
Not only can they pedal on a bike, now they can ride it. Forming letters has now developed so that the child can write and instead of sewing a few stitches, they can now thread a needle too. Dressing themselves has become easier as they can now do up their own buttons and lace their shoes. From seven to twelve years old, a child can run, jump, skip, hit a ball, climb and swing. They begin to enjoy playing games in teams, although before the age of nine they may misjudge their ability. Between twelve and nineteen years old, coordination and strength increase in boys and girls and by nineteen or twenty, they have full adult motor capabilities.
Physical developments and changing appearances occur in both genders, though usually earlier in girls than boys. After initial breast budding at around ten, girl’s breasts begin to swell, pubic hair begins to grow and their bodies develop womanly curves. Some girls start to develop at eight and by thirteen are physically mature, but the age and speed of development varies widely. The average age for the start of menstruation is thirteen. Adolescence usually starts at about fourteen in boys – their voices drop and become deeper, they start to grow body hair and they gain muscle, testicular and scrotum growth.
Again, there is great variation in the start and speed of development. Children also show development on their social and emotional skills. A baby under the age of three months is very dependent on adults for reassurance and comfort. They are able to be physically comforted (such as a cuddle) by someone familiar to them and they will respond to adults, especially their mother’s face and voice. They will show that they are feeling contented by smiling. From six to nine months, babies are able to show affection to people that are known to them, but can be shy with strangers. They show enjoyment in playing ames like peek-a-boo and they are happy to be with other people. Between one and two years old, a child’s confidence grows so that they will enjoy performing for an audience and will play alongside other children. They like to please adults and will mostly be cooperative, or at least can be distracted from naughty behaviour. However, they may become anxious or distressed if separated from their parents or carers and may well have a comfort object. At two to three years old, children start to develop a sense of their own identity and independence so that they start wanting to do things for themselves.
They enjoy playing with an adult or older child and will play with other children their own age for a short time. At the same time, they become quite demanding, wanting their needs to be met instantly and wanting the full attention of their surrounding adults. They can be jealous of others and reluctant to share their toys or an adult’s attention. They will act impulsively and are liable to have bursts of emotional tantrums. From three to four years old, a child will become more confident and self motivated. They feel more secure and able to cope with unfamiliar surroundings for a period of time.
They become more cooperative with adults and want to help. They are sociable and friendly with others, are keen to play with other children and more able to share. They begin to consider the needs of others and to show them concern. Between four and seven years old, instead of just playing with other children, they start to make friends, all be it often short term. They have developed an understanding of rules, and will enjoy playing group games, but they still find it difficult to take turns sometimes and this can result in disputes which they may need help in resolving.
When behaviour goes too far, they need limits to be set. Structure and routine help them to feel safe, as they learn about the world and how it works and about people and relationships. They enjoy helping others and taking responsibility From seven to twelve years old, children become less dependent on those adults that are close to them for support and they are able to cope with a wider environment. They become more aware of their own gender and whilst they enjoy being in groups with other children of a similar age, they tend to prefer to play with same sex friends.
They are strongly influenced by their peer group and have a desire to fit in with peer group rules. They will start to form closer relationships from about eight years old. They develop a strong sense of justice and fairness and an understanding that certain kinds of behaviour are not acceptable and why. But they still need adult help to sort out argumements and disagreements and can be bossy and arrogant or shy and uncertain. From twelve to nineteen years of age, many changes in the body occur (body odour, acne, body hair growth) and children can become self conscious.
Their emotional maturity constantly shifts between childish needs and adult desires. During adolescence, children move more towards independence and a desire for freedom, and away from reliance on their parents and start to reappraise the views and beliefs of their parents and their community. They are less concerned with adult approval and more concerned with their peers, often forging very close friendships with their own gender. They find security in being accepted by their peer group and dress and act accordingly to fit in. They start to develop an intense interest in the opposite sex.
The intellectual development an children is also important. From birth to three months old, a baby will imitate others and tries out ways of behaving in play. They become increasingly confident, realising that others are separate beings from themselves, but they still need adult reassurance. From three to four years old, their intellectual development allows them to understand two or three simple things to do at once. They can sort objects by size, type, colour and shape. Between the ages of five and seven years old, children begin to understand about sameness and difference in various aspects of life.
They can understand that differences can exist side by side and they can see different perspectives on the same subject eg same amount of water can look different in different containers. From seven to twelve years old, children are able to read to themselves and will take a lively interest in subjects by the age of nine. Between twelve and nineteen, a child’s mind will mature and develop with more responsibility for their thoughts, words and actions. They are able to make connections between different pieces of knowledge and with the rest of the world, particularly if they are given support. nd start to think ahead to the future and what it holds, with an increasing willingness to take responsibility for their own finances, employment and relationships. The last aspect of a child’s development is their language skills. From birth to three months old, a baby will make a variety of happy sounds and will will respond to a variety of sounds including music. Babies watch their carers face especially the mouth and try to copy its movements. From six to nine months old, a baby will laugh or squeal to show enjoyment.
They can respond to sounds by turning their head towards the source and are able to make four or five different sounds themselves. Babbling sounds begin. From age one to two years, children are able to understand key words in a sentence and move from using single words to putting them together in a simple sentence. At this point, a child’s understanding starts to outstrip their ability to express themselves. By the age of two, children start to understand the use of conversation and begin to copy their carers and will have a vocabulary between thirty and fifty words.
Between the ages of two to three years, a child is able to put words together in a sentence and begins to ask ‘what’ and ‘why’. They can join in songs and put actions to words and can scribble and make marks on paper. By three years old, a child’s vocabulary will have increased to about two hundred words. From three to four years, children start to use pitch and tone and past tense. The marks they make with crayons are more controlled and their vocabulary has increased to between one thousand and fifteen hundred words. From four to five years old, grammar becomes more accurate and children’s questions become more complex.
Consequently, they are more able to use language to communicate their ideas. They can follow a story and understand that books are a source of pleasure, using pictures to help them follow the story. Children can recognise their own name when written down and a few frequently written words. They can hold a pencil steadily to copy shapes and form some lettering. Between five and seven years old, children become fluent speakers who can make up stories and handle books well. They understand that text carries meaning and can recognise an increasing number of letters linking them to sounds.
From seven to twelve years old, children can speak fluently describe complicated events. They know difference tenses and some grammar and are comfortable with reading out loud. Their vocabulary will grow if adults introduce new words though they may still need help with the complexities of spelling. Between the ages of twelve and nineteen, children’s language skills develop so that they can use words in a sophisctaed way such as sarcasm and debating. Consequently, children may develop an interest in satire and off-beat humour. Their sense of logic thinking is also maturing.