What is Child Development Programme?
Child development refers to the sequence of physical, language, thought and
emotional changes that occur in a child from birth to the beginning of adulthood.
During this process a child progresses from dependency on their
parents/guardians to increasing independence. Child development is strongly
influenced by genetic factors (genes passed on from their parents) and events
during prenatal life. It is also influenced by environmental facts and the child’s
Child development can be actively enhanced through targeted therapeutic
intervention and the ‘just right’ home based practice, recommended by
Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists.
What does child development include?
Child development covers the full scope of skills that a child masters over their
life span including development in:Cognition – the ability to learn and problem solve
Social interaction and emotional regulation – interacting with others and
mastering self-control Speech and Language – understanding and using language, reading and
communicatingPhysical skills – fine motor (finger) skills and gross motor (whole body)
skillsSensory awareness – the registration of sensory information for use.
Why is child development important?
Observing and monitoring child development is an important tool to ensure that
children meet their ‘developmental milestones’. Developmental milestones (a
‘loose’ list of developmental skills that believed to be mastered at roughly the
same time for all children but that are far from exact) act as a useful guideline of
By checking a child’s developmental progress at particular age markers against
these arbitrary time frames, it allows a ‘check in’ to ensure that the child is
roughly ‘on track’ for their age. If not, this checking of developmental milestones
can be helpful in the early detection of any hiccups in development. This ‘check’ is
usually carried out through child/mother services and Paediatricians as infants
and toddlers, and later through preschool and school term skills assessments.
The earliest possible detection (and early intervention treatment if appropriate) of
developmental challenges can be helpful in minimizing the impact these
developmental hiccups can have on a child’s skill development and subsequently
their confidence, or serve as an indicator of a possible future diagnosis.
Developmental milestone checklists or charts are used as a guide as to what is
‘normal’ for a particular age range and can be used to highlight any areas in
which a child might be delayed. However, it is important to be aware that while
child development has a predictable sequence, all children are unique in theirdevelopmental journey and the times frames that they meet the manydevelopmental milestones.
Problems in Child Development:
Problems in child development can arise due to: genetics, prenatal circumstances,
the presence of a specific diagnosis or medical factors, and/or the lack of
opportunity or exposure to helpful stimuli. Specific assessment by the best fit
professional (which may initially be the GP or Paediatrician, and then
Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Psychologist and/or Physiotherapist)
can provide clarity about the developmental issues and extent of concern as well
as can help to formulate a plan to overcome the challenge(s). As the process of
child development involves multiple skills developing simultaneously, there may
then be benefit in consulting multiple professionals.
Overcoming the developmental challenges is crucial to maximising the ease and
speed of development, minimizing the gap that occur between a child’s ability and
those of their same aged peers, the confidence of the child as well as the
frustration that can be encountered by the child’s parents and/or care-givers.
Checklists: The following checklists can be used by parents to highlight areas
that a child’s development may be delayed in and to determine whether an
Occupational Therapy or Speech Pathology assessment may be beneficial to their
Fine Motor Skills Development Checklist
Gross Motor skills Development Checklist
Phonological (Sound) Awareness Development Checklist
Play and Social Skills Development Checklist
Self-Care and Organisation Development Checklist
Sensory Processing Development Checklist
Speech Sound (Articulation) Development Checklist
Stages of Language Development Checklist
Written Communication Developmental Checklist