The Importance of Developmental Milestones

Posted by on May 6, 2011 in Research |

I know the signs of healthy child development.
From birth to age 5, children reach important Developmental Milestones.

Why is it important to watch for these milestones? 

While each child’s development is unique, an absence of a developmental milestone may signal a problem with the child’s development in that area.

The earlier developmental delays or disorders are identified and treated, the better the outcome for the child will be.

Why is that? Because young children’s brains are growing incredibly quickly!

A newborn’s brain is about 1/4 of the size of an adult brain, but by age 3 the brain as grown to 80% of adult size, and by age 5, a child’s brain has reached 90% of brain development occurs by age 5. This development is activity-dependent. That is, a child’s brain development is shaped by the experiences the child has during this time. Check out this article on the Zero to Three website for more detailed information on brain development.

The downside of this rapid development is that young children growing up in challenging environments-  and dealing with issues like homelessness – are more likely to experience developmental delays.
The upside, though, is that because young children’s brains are so susceptible to new experiences, playtime is a great opportunity to make a huge difference in the development of the children we reach. By keeping an eye out for possible development delays, we as volunteers are in an ideal position to help address these issues, both through targeted playtime activities and by referring parents, when appropriate, to additional resources.