The purpose of this blog post is to highlight the key areas of development that must be considered by parents and professionals working in Early Childhood Education. There are four key areas of development that can impact how well a child can learn and, ultimately, their life chances: social, emotional, physical, and cognitive. Consider the last time you interacted with your toddler – whether it was playing, dancing, or reading with them. If you were engaging with them actively, then your interaction was likely dominated by physical and verbal exchanges. While this may have been taxing for both of you, it was not a problem limited to the parent-child relationship:
For a toddler, ‘social development’ means exploring their world and learning how to relate to others. This will involve your toddler developing the ability to calm down when they are upset, the ability to focus on another person when negotiating, and the capacity to share their interests with others. Simply put, the more your toddler is learning, the more mature they will become. Therefore, supporting their social and emotional development will assist them in reaching their fullest potential.
‘Cognitive development refers to the mental processes through which a person learns and grows. In early childhood, this primarily entails the development of attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. In some children, it may also involve the development of self-control.
These are all essential for your toddler to reach their full potential. However, it is important to consider that not all cognitive development is equal. While some toddlers may learn to identify objects simply by looking at them, others may learn to read only through experience. If your toddler is displaying advanced cognitive skills but fails to apply them in a practical setting, then this could be considered a concern.
‘Physical development’ refers to the changes that occur as a person grows and develops. In very young children, this primarily entails the development of strength, coordination, and balance. After their initial growth spurt, toddlers will develop faster in some areas than in others. For example, while it is normal for strength to increase rapidly, visual acuity may not improve until later stages of development.
These are all areas that can be improved with the right stimulation and exercise. If your toddler has not reached their full potential in any of these areas, it may be a sign that they are not receiving the appropriate stimulation.
‘ Emotional development refers to the processes by which individuals establish the ability to regulate their emotions and maintain effective social interactions. In very young children, this entails the development of self-confidence and the ability to understand and respond to social cues. In older children, it may also involve the development of empathy and the ability to read other people’s emotions.
Just like with social and cognitive development, not all emotional development is equal. Some children, particularly those with autism, may have difficulties regulating their emotions or understanding the emotions of others. If your toddler is displaying any signs of emotional disturbance, it may be a cause for concern.
To summarize, the key areas of development in early childhood education are social, emotional, physical, and cognitive. These are all areas that can be improved through dedicated parenting and education. However, it is important to consider that not all development in these areas will be beneficial to your toddler. Some may even be detrimental. This is why it is important to understand what each area entails and how it can contribute to your toddler’s overall development.