Developmental Domains of Early Childhood
Yakov GanzfriedConcordia College – Sara SchnerierThe 5 critical developmental domains define early childhood development. These early years of a child is the time to build strong foundation in all developmental domains. Encountering detailed milestones in all five domains of development and learning enables young children to launch behaviors and skills that will make them successful. Developmental skills for preschoolers include holding a scissors properly and cutting on the line, holding a pencil properly, sharing with friends and being able to problem solve when situations come up. The 5 developmental domains include:
Language (Receptive and Expressive) Skills include the ability to understand others and to express oneself using words and facial expressions. Children who develop strong language skills are more likely to have an easier time learning to read and do much better in school. Using language and communication with young children is crucial for their success in school and beyond. Adults have a critical role in developing children’s abilities to engage in talk. The adults provide an environment that promotes talk and provides initial conversational experiences, adults need to make a conscious effort to engage in conversation and promote the give-and-take of dialogue. (chapter 11.2) Preschool language development activities should be part of each day in the classroom, and also in the home. (Sheryl Cooper, teacher of 2 and 3-year olds for over 19 years) An important suggestion for a teacher to build language development would be to encourage play-group games, this encourages conversation amongst the students. Whenever possible have the class divide into groups and have them each chose their favorite game and while they play they can converse freely. It is also important to be a good model, make sure to speak clearly and slowly when talking to children. If a child pronounces a word wrong, repeat the word correctly, this way the child hears the word right and can learn the language properly. An example of a game that is great for modeling questions is “Guess Who”.
Physical (Gross and Fine) Skills. Fine and gross motor skills involve different movements and coordination. Fine Motor Skills require a high degree of control in the small muscles of the hand like holding a spoon, and Gross Motor Skills use larger muscles in the body and include broader movement like walking and jumping. Turning gross motor skills into a simple game would be playing “Simple Simon Says”, tell your students to sit down and then get up, bend down and touch their toes, or even just to make 5 jumping jacks. These are all physical gross motor skills. An example of a fine motor skill would be sewing. Hand out to your student big round beads and have them string it onto a piece of yarn, they can even knot the ends and wear it as a necklace. This a fun way to develop your fine motor skills.
Adaptive (Life) Skills are defined as practical, daily skills we need to function. It includes the necessary skills to interact with others and to independently take care of oneself. These skills include self-care. Self-care includes anything a child has to know to take care of oneself, for example grooming, dressing, bathing, eating alone… As a teacher a good way to teach students necessary daily skills would be to create a checklist. Go through the entire morning routine, think of everything they need to do from when they get up. Start from getting dressed, to brushing their teeth, to making their bed and even brushing their hair (it varies according to their age). Based on their capabilities teach them how to do it all and then give them a chart and have them check off when they make their bed or brush their hair… Reward them for their chart so that way it will encourage them to complete the chart. Once they master the simpler skills you can move on to working on harder skills.
Social and Emotional Skills includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of their emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others. The core features of emotional development include the ability to identify and understand one’s own feelings, to accurately read and comprehend emotional states in others, to manage strong emotions and their expression in a constructive manner, to regulate one’s own behavior, to develop empathy for others, and to establish and maintain relationships. (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child 2004, 2) There are 5 core social emotional skills:
Self-awareness is the ability to identify your emotions and to understand the links between emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Self-management is the ability to regulate emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Social awareness is the ability to take other’s perspectives and demonstrate empathy.
Relationship skills are the ability to build and maintain healthy relationships.
Responsible decision making is the ability to make good choices about your behavior and interactions with others.
One aspect of Vygotsky’s theory is the idea that the potential for cognitive development depends upon the “zone of proximal development” (ZPD): a level of development attained when children engage in social behavior. Full development of the ZPD depends upon full social interaction, therefore we have to make sure that our children get enough social interaction. Reading books is a good way of providing your students proper social-emotional skills. Turn taking would teach them social skills, asking them to explain the emotions of a character in the story teaches them different emotions. Also teach them about gestures and eye contact. Have 2 girls act out, one girl sharing exciting news and have the other girl making funny faces and not looking interested in her news. Ask them how they would feel if it were to happen to them. They would probably tell you they feel upset, hurt, made fun of or any other emotional. Modeling is the most interesting and best way to teach children.
Cognitive Skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. Most children that struggle with learning are weak in one of their cognitive skills. Cognitive development skills in preschoolers include asking questions, problem solving, simple reasoning, and visual discrimination – matching, comparing and sorting. An activity to strengthen their cognitive skill would be to read them a book and ask them questions about the story, make them use their brain to think – its good for them. Also have them play matching games, it forces their brains to think and try to remember where the other set is in a fun way.