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Child‘s Development by Ruby Sieberer Children learn from birth and they are not able to filter this new knowledge yet. Therefore the environment and surroundings of a child takes an important role in guiding them. It will affect in building their health, behavior, intelligence, and skills. That is why supporting children on their development is a very important task of the child‘s caregiver such as parents, families, and teachers. Need to know that the development of each child might not be the same, this depends on each situation of the child‘s conditions, character, environment, and caregiver. There are a few areas on where the caregiver can support children's development. 1. Physical growth Physical growth refers to the increase of body size, height or weight. During the time from birth, children‘s bodies go through a period of rapid growth. They are also constantly learning and moving which consume energy from their body. To help this growth, their body needs good nutrition. Eating habits are very important to the health of the child. To support the physical growth, the caregiver should introduce the child to healthy eating habits. Children under the age of 10 could not tell the difference between nutritious food or not. They only know by the taste of their tongue, whether it is tasteful or not. If they have given a chance, of course, children tend to choose food by its taste. A tasteful food is often not healthy enough. This is where the caregiver steps in to support and choose the child’s diets to have more nutrition in their food. Introducing healthy food from an early age will help children to not be picky in food later on. When a child used to the taste of certain food, for example, the sourness of kiwi or blandness of broccoli, they won’t have a hard time in the future eating healthy. For healthy growth of the body, give children plenty of fruits and vegetables on their plate. The caregiver should also prepare protein, such as meat, fish, and dairy. If possible also choose whole grains products. The caregiver should also watch the amount of consumption, help children learn about serving sizes. A caregiver should not force children to finish their plate if they are not hungry nor to leave children to eat continuously which leads to overweight. Moderate eating is also a healthy eating habit. 2. Motor Development Motor developments refer to the development of a child’s ability to move his or her muscle and body around. Newborn body movements are very limited, but as he/she grows they are learning to control their body to make bigger movements. A caregiver's help and support is the key point in how fast can a child develop his/her motor skills. Motor developments can be divided into two sections: gross motor developments and fine motor developments. (a) Fine Motor Developments This refers to the developments of skills that use smaller muscles in the arms, hands, and fingers to make a movement. For example holding a toy, using spoon, drawing, or zipping. At an early stage, a newborn can only move certain parts of their bodies, for example, grabbing your finger in his/her palm. As they grew older they can open and shut their hands and later on even writing. To improve child fine motor skills they need something to simulate the action of moving the muscles. There is plenty of ways of how a caregiver can support them. For an infant, there is so much support that an adult can give to help them move their muscles. It was suggested that caregivers give plenty of massages to help their muscles feel movements. This will help the infant learn that part of his/her body is movable. Small movements like turning their head sideways or let your finger grab by his/her palm are one of the examples to support infant motor skills. For toddlers, a caregiver can support this development through games and play. For example, to stimulate the muscle movement of eyes and lips, a caregiver can start by singing and dancing in front of the child. He/she will try to move his/her muscles to imitate you. Another example to help them simulate their hand muscle, a caregiver can let the child hold different kinds of toys one at a time. Let the child feels the grip of the different shapes or surfaces of the toys. He/she will learn to hold longer and this will help them in the future to build stronger hands to write or draw. For children starting in kindergarten, the caregiver can encourage them to write and draw. Provide them the tools to do so. While doing crafts, the caregiver can support them with helping scissors until they learn to do it themselves. For every ‘first time’ they need help from an adult to show them how it works. (b) Gross Motor Developments This refers to the developments of skills that use larger muscles such as arms or legs to make a movement. For example, crawling, standing, jumping, walking or running. When a baby is starting to roll by themselves, this is where the caregiver can start helping them to develop his/her gross motor skills. Support can be given by trying to piqued baby’s interest to crawl by moving his/her favorite toy away, he/she will try to reach it and move it further away. With a few practices soon the baby will crawl. A toddler who is beginning to stand and walk will need the caregiver's hand to support them as they don’t have a good balance yet. A caregiver can also support their physical development by creating a safe environment such as firm padding on dangerous corners or secure platforms and objects that can lead to dangerous accidents. For children starting in kindergarten, a caregiver can encourage them throughout play and games. Providing games that engage movements of the whole body, such as playing football, will help children to develop their gross motor skills. As children continue to grow, they continue to develop their larger muscles. Through practice and repetition, they can develop their large muscle skills, and excel at certain athletic skills. 3. Social-Emotional Development Social development is the ability of how a child relates to their surroundings. It is also an ability to share and understand someone else’s perspective. Emotional development is the ability of how a child develops, display, regulates, and understand his feelings and emotions. This development influences a child’s confidence, empathy, ability to sense of importance and value to other people, and the ability to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship. Social and emotional development is the area of development more likely to be influenced by the environment. The different temperament styles of children are greatly influenced by the kind of care they received. A child who grows up in a stable and loving environment will likely grow into an emotionally healthy adult than a child who grows up in an unsafely and unloving environment. This child will more likely develop not a good relationship with another person. Parents and caregivers play the biggest role in social and emotional development. It is important for them to actively engage in quality interactions every day. This is a few ways on how to support the social and emotional development of the child: Self-awareness, to recognize your emotions. The caregiver should respond positively to the child’s emotions, either is good or bad. Help the child to identify and label his/her outburst emotions. Let them share his/her own emotions and thoughts. Self-management, to control your emotions. If the child could identify and label his/her emotions, its time for the caregiver to help them control it. Set an example for them to follow if there is an outburst of emotions, like taking a deep breath or counting to 10. Social awareness, to show empathy and understanding to other people. Help the child to learn empathy by listening to his/her stories, show interest and give feedback. Encourage the child to also listen to others, to interact with people who are different that he/she is. Encourage them to help others in need. Responsible for decision making, to encourage making responsible choices. Teach the child to make a positive choice. Let them try new things and give feedback afterward. Give the child age-appropriate responsibility, such as cleaning his/her toys after play, and give his/her appreciation if they do so. Help children to understand the consequences of his/her behavior or decision. 4. Cognitive Development Cognitive development is the ability to grow and develop their thinking or evaluation skills. Cognitive development includes the ability to remember, problem-solving and decision making. Cognitive skills also affect other areas of a child’s development, including language and social skills. Since the early years, infants aware of their surroundings and they are actively learning. They gather, sort, and process information from their surroundings, using the information to develop perception and thinking skills. Babies can distinguish between parents and strangers, they try to imitate sounds, develop attachments to certain objects, and could understand simple words such as “no”. A toddler developing more to their cognitive skills; they understand the concept and use of objects, they begin to show their own preferences, they understand discipline and they understand the meaning of more words. School-age children can already use their imagination and memory skills. This is the age when they are ready in learning and memorizing. They also develop the skills to understand the cause and effect relations. As the child’s caregiver, they have an important role in the development of cognitive skills. They are the core in shaping their intelligence. As children learn from their surroundings, a caregiver can support children's cognitive development in areas of memory, concentration, attention, and perceptions by incorporating simple activities in everyday routine. A caregiver should encourage children to think for themselves, such as offering choices that will help children become more confident in making decisions or asking questions that will help children to learn how to solve the problem. To promote the development of cognitive skills, there are ways for how a caregiver can help: Providing opportunities for experimentation and problem-solving. Games like memory card games help children to concentrate and focus. Another example is to create a small experiment project for the children to understand the what, why, where, and how of the experiment. Providing opportunities for imagination and visualization improvement. Reading books to children help them to imagine and visualize according to the story. Another example is role-playing also helps children to become more imaginative. Providing opportunities for music and movement experience. Engaging children to actively sing along and dance will stimulate their emotions and improve their coordination and imagination. Providing opportunities for creation and creativity. Through crafts, children are required to think about how to create. It will also promote creativity and ideas. Providing opportunities for education. Teach the children to identify letters, words, objects, and numbers. 5. Language and Communication Development Language and communication development is the ability to deliver a message to others and understand what others are saying to you. Language is the way to communicate with others, either oral, written or signed. Communication is the interaction back and forth between people, either verbally (oral or written language) or non-verbally (like waving bye-bye or nodding yes). From an early age, children already try to establish communication to other people way before he/she learn how to talk. For example, newborn cries to tell their caregiver that something is wrong or when a toddler throws away something from his hand is actually saying his/her dislike. To help children improve their language and communication development, there are many ways can a caregiver help: Talk. To talk and talk, although it might be a one-way conversation, is the best way for children to learn and store new vocabulary. Children who hear more words and given the chance to establish conversations will learn how to talk faster than others. Respond. Responding to when the child tries to establish a conversation will encourage him/her to communicate. For younger children who couldn’t talk properly, they can still try to communicate through gestures or body language. A caregiver can try to interpret these gestures and respond to them with words. Read and tell stories. Reading and telling stories will help children to understand relations between words and meaning. Pointing out a word with the picture will also help children to store new words and understanding that certain word belongs to a certain item. Commenting and describing. With commenting on what the child is doing, the caregiver is teaching them to label the action into words. Describing to them also helps children to expand their vocabulary. Ask questions. Asking questions will give a chance to let children say or express their thoughts and establish communication.