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From birth, children begin to explore their new world by touching, smelling, tasting, listening, observing and playing. Through this constant exploration, they are rapidly developing the "domains" of their physical and mental abilities. Parents and early childhood professionals play a critical role in this development. The simplest of activities can promote stimulation and growth in these five domains:

Approaches to Learning are how children acquire knowledge, develop new skills, and set and achieve goals. This includes a child’s creativity, curiosity, desire to learn, ability to begin and finish activities, and engagement in group activities. 

Offer children a variety of opportunities to explore new materials, foods or environments. Offer child-directed, free-choice activities and rotate new materials to investigate. Support risk-taking and new challenges.

Social and Emotional Development encompasses children’s ability to understand feelings of self and others, control their own behaviors, get along with others and form relationships with adults. As children observe and interact with familiar adults, they begin to learn how to express and interpret a broad range of emotions. Positive social and emotional development in the early years provides a critical foundation for lifelong learning.  

Having children interact with other children and adults as much as possible from an early age is the best way to help them develop socially. Playing games, having conversations at the dinner table, and getting together with friends and family are all invaluable ways to foster social development.

Language and Literacy development begins the day children are born. As children grow, their speech and language skills become more complex, and they understand and use language to express ideas, thoughts and feelings. A child’s language ability affects learning and development in all areas, especially emerging literacy. Children develop emergent literacy skills by rhyming, enjoying stories and books, recognizing symbols, scribbling and learning to write letters or words.  

Reading, talking, and singing to children from birth, and providing books and language videos or DVDs for them when they are older will help children develop important language skills. 

Cognition refers to a child's mental capacity for problem-solving, learning about objects, and understanding cause and effect. These skills help children understand and organize their world, enabling them to process sensory information, make comparisons, analyze information, evaluate and remember.  

Help children develop cognitive skills from an early age by providing puzzles, blocks, peg games, card games, patterns, and cause and effect activities. 

Perceptual Motor and Physical Development addresses a child's developing ability to interact with an environment using both the senses and motor skills, such as hand-eye coordination. Children's physical well-being depends on many factors, including their knowledge and use of safe, healthy behaviors and routines.

Have children practice:

  • Walking on their toes or heels
  • Walking with toes pointed in or out
  • Walking or moving like a certain animal (crab, worm, bear, bunny, frog, elephant, gorilla, kangaroo, etc.)
  • Playing kickball, tetherball, volleyball, basketball, or skating
  • Swinging, sliding, climbing on monkey bars, or playing on a tire swing
  • Balancing while walking along a curb
  • Walking forward, backward, sideways, and heel-to-toe
  • Walking while balancing a book on their head
  • Jumping, hopping, crawling, rolling, doing jumping jacks, and jumping over obstacles.

Participating in sports groups helps children develop gross motor skills as well as cognition, as many sports require thinking and planning where and what their body needs to do next.