Children of the same age will experience progression differently, their progression is based on a dynamic process termed growth and development, both often used interchangeable, these terms however have completely different meanings. Growth usually refers to a noticeable increase in the child’s actual size, for instance the child’s weight, height, or head circumference. Development is a broader term than growth the rate and level of development are closely related to physiological maturity of the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems.
For example at birth the neurons in a child’s brain begin to make critical connections, which will be used in adult functions, such as vision. This is considered development and not growth because there is no increase of size and can observed without an advanced instrument. Development is also a sequence of composed of predictable steps along a developmental pathway common to the majority of children.
Read more: Sequence and rate of development essay
Development usually focuses on several major domains: physical, motor, perceptual, cognitive, social-emotional, and language.
According to Novella J. Ruffin Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Child Development Specialist, physical development refers to “physical changes in the body and involves changes in bone thickness, size, weight, gross motor, fine motor, vision, and perceptual development.” “Growth is rapid during the first two years of life. “The child’s size, shape, senses, and organs undergo change.” ‘As each physical change occurs, the child gains new abilities.” Motor development is holding their head up, sitting, pulling, rolling, eye-hand coordination, reaching or grasping. “The gross motor skills develop in a head to foot progression (Gesell, 1940), “Head control is the first movement that a baby achieves, and is necessary to attain other movement skills such as sitting, crawling, and walking” (Illingworth, 1983).
Head control is vital because The ability to roll smoothly from back to stomach, or stomach to back requires some degree of head control, and a rotation movement that occurs along the trunk of the body, between the hips and the shoulders. Rolling is the first movement that allows a baby to change his position, and usually develops between 4 and 5 months of age (Caplan, 1978). The ability to maintain a sitting position requires a baby to have developed equilibrium reactions and protective responses in the forward, backward, and side to side directions (Bobath, 1964). Although if the baby has difficulty maintaining balances, the parents can play with the child to improve equilibrium reactions. “Once an infant develops strength, coordination, and balance to move about freely on the floor, he will begin to pull up to stand and discover ways to explore things that were previously out of his reach (Bly, 1980) Perceptual development is an aspect of cognitive development that allows young children to start interpreting and understanding sensory input. Cognitive development is the changing of thought, learning and perception as a child develops from infancy to childhood. As a child begins to understand who they are and what they are feeling is social-emotional development.
The greatest influence on a child’s social-emotional development is the quality of the relationship that the child develops with their primary caregivers. Positive and nurturing early experiences and relationships have a significant impact on a child’s social-emotional development. Language development begins early in life; however there are different theories on how to explain just how language development occurs. For example behaviorist theory of B.F. Skinner suggests “that the emergence of language is the result of imitation and reinforcement.” Yet the nativist theory of Noam Chomsky suggests “that language in an inherent human quality and that children are born with a language acquisition device that allows them to produce language once they have learned the necessary vocabulary.” Some newborns have developmental differences caused by unfavorable conditions before, during, or after birth due to genetic or environmental influences; these factors could lead to atypical child development. The term atypical describes children with developmental differences, deviations, or marked delays—children whose development appears to be incomplete or inconsistent with typical patterns and sequences.
There are many causes of atypical development, including genetic errors, poor health and nutrition, injury, and too few or poor-quality opportunities to learn. (Pg 34, Ch.2, Principles of Growth and Development) Atypical physical growth can also be called physical development delay, this only becomes a problem when the motor skill does not emerge by the expected date, and the child is making no progress on the learning skill. Atypical cognitive growth will tend to arise from a developmental delay. Some of the most common causes of these delays are brain injury, abuse and neglect, and gene or chromosomal abnormalities.
In conclusion children can be the same age, the same weight, and the same height, but each child will develop differently, each will have their own unique pattern of growth. Each child will develop differently with the influences of environmental factors, culture, and family values that are uniquely to each individual. As children grow there are points of developmental milestones. Each milestone helps the progress of new milestones such as walking, which requires muscle strength and coordination. There are different sequences of development each as equally as important as the other. Every child will learn from their environment, and a loving and positive environment will have loving and positive children.
Allen, E.K; Marotz, L.R. (2010) Developmental Profiles Pre-birth through Twelve Bly, L. (1980). The components of normal movement during the first year of life. Bobath, K. & Bobath, B. (1964). The facilitation of normal postural reactions and movements in the treatment of cerebral palsy. Caplan, F. (1978). The first twelve months of life.
Gesell, A. (1940). The first five years of life.
Illingworth, R.S. (1983). The development of the infant and young child: normal and abnormal. Novella J. Ruffin Ph. D., (2011). Understand Growth and Development Patterns of Infants.