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General Information about Child Development

  • Every child develops at an individual rate, possesses unique characteristics, and exhibits an array of talents and interests regardless of family background, culture, special needs, experience, or ability.
  • Though children follow general sequences of development, each child will develop in unique ways, depending upon the child’s personality, context and experiences.
  • There is a wide range for emergence of developmental skills; it is impossible to pin down the exact age at which every child will have achieved a specific milestone. For the purpose of determining a child’s developmental status in relation to same age peers, skills are listed according to the latest age they typically emerge for most children.
  • Optimal learning occurs when we recognize that all aspects of a child’s development (e.g., social and emotional, approaches to learning, language and literacy, cognitive, and physical) are inextricably interrelated and nurtured through a combination of active exploration, play, social interactions, and thoughtfully planned activities that capitalize on children’s natural tendency to seek ever higher levels of challenge to master.
  • Children develop holistically; growth and development in one area often influences and/or depends upon development in other areas. It is imperative to recognize the interconnectedness of children’s early development in all areas.

Using This Resource

The information in the following pages has been compiled from a variety of books, assessment tools and websites. The information is organized in accordance with the three Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) child outcomes to help practitioners, parents and other family members understand the kinds of functional behaviors displayed by typically developing children at various ages. It is very important to keep in mind there is a wide range for emergence of developmental skills for typically developing children. In order to understand a child’s developmental functioning in comparison to same-age peers, evaluators must be familiar with the child’s behavior over the variety of settings, situations, and interactions that make up the child’s day to day life. The functional outcomes being rated address behaviors that are meaningful and used in the context of children’s everyday lives. Evaluators should always be considering how the child is using skills and behaviors to achieve a result or outcome that is meaningful to him/her in his/her daily life.

These examples should not be considered or used as a checklist. T hey are descriptions of the kinds of behaviors that a child of a given age might use in their everyday routines and activities. The behavioral descriptors are to be used as a supplement to, not a substitute for, other assessment information gathered through use of validated assessment tools, observation, discussions with families and other caregivers, and review of reports from other individuals regarding the child’s developmental. In determining the extent to which a child’s functioning meets age expectations, the team must look at an overall pattern, rather than specific fragments, of development.

Please Note: A thorough explanation and details of development are beyond the scope of this document. It is incumbent upon early childhood professionals to have a thorough knowledge of development. Resources listed in this manual can be used as one mechanism for professionals to increase their knowledge. Observation of typically developing children and specific coursework are other methods to increase professional competency in child development.

Click here to find Typical developmental information Click here for ages 1 through 6 months developmental milestones Click here for ages 7 through 12 months developmental milestones Click here for ages 13 through 24 months developmental milestones Click here for ages 27 through 36 months developmental milestones

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