In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:
1. Should all kids develop at the same rate?
2. What percentage of kids are at risk for delays?
3. Who can help?
Up to age 5 was a period of astonishing physical, emotional and social growth for your child. Although it may seem like your first-grader was just taking his first steps, he’s now mastered the monkey bars on the playground.
As parents, we often hear the term developmental milestones and know it’s important our children hit these markers at key moments of growth. But what exactly do child development specialists mean by that phrase?
1. SHOULD ALL KIDS DEVELOP AT THE SAME RATE?
“First, it’s important to remember that every child is an individual,” says Randee Gabriel, Children and Family Services manager at 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast. “There are no two children that will hit every milestone at the exact same time. Still, there are crucial cues to look for at each age.”
Gabriel explains children up to age 5 should reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move.
“This is because a young child’s brain develops incredibly quickly,” says Gabriel, adding the brain grows to 90 percent of its adult size by age 5.
Here’s some insight from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what’s normal for your child’s development at these ages:
Balances on each foot for 10 seconds or longer; somersaults (tuck and roll); swings
Copies patterns; prints some letters; cuts with safety scissors
Recalls parts of a story; speaks in sentences of more than five words; names opposites
Wants to please friends; more agreeable to rules; likes to sing, dance, act
Physical, social and mental skills develop quickly, and this is a critical time for children to develop confidence in all areas of life, such as through friends, schoolwork and sports.
- Showing more independence from parents and family
- Understanding more about their place in the world
- Paying more attention to friendships and teamwork
- Wanting to be liked and accepted by friends
- Demonstrating rapid development of mental skills
- Developing less focus on one’s self and more concern for others
2. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF KIDS ARE AT RISK FOR DELAYS?
One in four U.S. children up to age 5 are at moderate or high risk of developmental, behavioral, or social delay, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, many children experience delays in language or other areas that can affect school readiness.
“Every age group brings within itself new changes and skills required,” Gabriel says. “While a child may have no concerns at 6 months, this does not guarantee there will be no concerns at 25 months or 48 months or beyond. Rescreening at each interval is imperative to identify these shifts and ensure healthy development over the long term.”
3. WHO CAN HELP?
Detection and intervention are critical for optimal outcomes for children. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, call the 211 Help Me Grow Program. Help Me Grow services are free, including screenings, information and resource connection.
• Randee Gabriel, Children and Family Services manager, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
• Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County
• Palm Beach County School District’s guidance program