“The habits we form from childhood make no small difference, but rather they make all the difference.”-Aristotle
To watch a child grow and develop is probably one of the most amazing experiences of a parent’s life. Their charming gestures like playing peek-a-boo, cooing with excitement or clapping their hands can warm the hearts of many.
In a child’s life, the first five years are of critical importance as they reach multiple developmental milestones that set their path for future and future learning.
Early childhood years are critical in a child’s life. The rate of development is rapid during these years and the child needs a climate of security and acceptance. Furthermore, growing children require a variety of activities and ample space for movement and play.
Dianna Fryer, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Child Development Program training and curriculum specialist identified five different domains of development- physical, cognitive, language, social, and emotional domains
A lot of the development happens in the home environment and it is equally important to include these in educational settings.
As parents, we can provide an enriching and safe environment to foster the development of each of these domains.
Developing the Physical Domain-
This domain refers to the development of physical skills, known as motor skills.
It is characterized by the development of fine and gross motor skills.
Activities like walk the line, jump on and off, kick the ball, action songs, games such as Simon says and hop like an animal facilitate the development of gross motor skills.
Fine motor skills can be developed by exercises like finger painting, tearing and pasting, vegetable painting, molding play dough and sorting and counting with tongs.
Developing the Language Domain-
Language development can be done by promoting listening and speaking. Children have to be taught sounds of words, vocabulary and grammar. In addition, they need to learn the correct application of language depending on the social situation.
Engaging children in conversations helps to develop this domain. Talk about what the child is doing, what the child is looking at, or what he/she is interested in.
Ask children to make predictions like what do you think will happen next in the story,
what else could we use this container for and so on.
We could also encourage them to connect learning to their own lives. For instance, this is a blue block, what are the other blue things in the room. Talking through routines also helps them learn language e.g we are washing our hands with soap and water, we are making lot of bubbles. Parents could also comment on the child’s actions or things like you are drawing with a green crayon.
Reading aloud to the child, making conversations during pretend play, playing word games and storytelling, all help in the development of this area.
Developing the Cognitive Domain-
The Cognitive Sphere includes Intellectual development and Creativity. The cognitive skills of the child can be enhanced through memory games, jigsaw puzzles and number games. Matching games like matching rhyme games, matching animals to their babies and matching things that go together add to the expansion of the cognitive domain. Putting pictures in the correct sequence, sorting objects by colour or shape also help in the development of this realm.
Creativity can be enhanced by role-play, creative colouring, making animals or objects with various shapes and storytelling.
Developing the Social and Emotional Domain-
Social Skills include showing pro-social behaviour, becoming aware of one’s culture, developing positive self-concept and interpersonal skills. A child learns to relate to those around him/her and learns to manage conflicts.
Emotional Development includes child’s ability to understand the expressions of emotions, deal with feelings appropriately, form attachments, play with others, and handle peer pressure.
Some of the ways to enhance social and emotional domains include activities like match the feeling cards, identify feelings in books, dress-up and pretend play.
There are times when our little ones feel overwhelmed with emotions. Setting up a Peace Corner in the house can provide children with a safe space to calm themselves. This should be a peaceful place and could have some comfortable pillows, calming images, colouring sheets, charts or sheets of some calming strategies.
Children could be encouraged to work in partnerships and groups to develop their social skills.
Stories, rhymes and songs also help to enhance this domain.
From a scientific perspective, humans are not just cognitive and physical beings, but they are also emotional and social beings and all domains are intricately linked. Hence we need to focus on enriching each of these spheres for the holistic growth of our little ones.
Image Source: Canva