A child’s first years of school are filled with wonderful moments. It is also a time of tremendous social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. The skills learned at this stage may seem simple but this sets the child up for a lifetime of learning. So the preschooler’s building blocks and train tracks are not just entertaining; they are teaching problem-solving and physics.
Encouragement and applauding the child’s success is quite natural but parents should also allow them to make mistakes. This will help them move on and learn from it for the next time.
Skill development of a child can be broadly classified as:
- COGNITIVE SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
- GROSS MOTOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
1. Cognitive skill development in children involves the progressive building of learning skills, such as attention, memory and thinking. These are crucial skills which enable children to process sensory information and later learn to evaluate, analyse, remember, make comparisons and understand cause and effect. A playschool will typically teach the following to help develop the cognitive skills of a child.
- Letters and sound: A child will learn to recognise and name all 26 uppercase letters and some lowercase letters. Lowercase letters are harder to learn at this age. They will also develop a connection between letters and sounds and know some of the sounds that letters make.
- Colours, shapes and objects: A child will learn the names of many colours, basic shapes and body parts.
- Numbers and counting: Teachers will help children to recognise and identify the numbers one to 10 and correctly count 10 or more objects. Learning what numerals 0 to 10 looks like and being able to name them correctly is the first math skill a preschooler learns. Counting starts with memorisation. The child will be taught to memorise the order of numbers.
- Cutting and drawing: The child will be taught how to cut with scissors. This helps develop better hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. They will soon start drawing and colouring beyond just scribbles and will learn to use crayons, pencils and paintbrushes.
- Socializing and sharing: Children will learn how to share and cooperate, to work together and take turns, to participate in group activities and follow simple directions and to communicate wants and needs.
Although some cognitive skill development is related to a child’s genetic makeup, most cognitive skills are learned. Thinking and learning skills can be improved with practice and the right training.
2. Gross motor skill development in children involves movements of the large muscles of the body. The development of gross motor skills starts as soon as a child is born. As they grow their gross motor skills continue to grow and develop and improve. Boys usually develop these skills sooner than girls, with the exception of skills that involve balance and precise movements like skipping and hopping. Other examples of gross motor skills include:
- Throwing a ball
- Rides tricycles
- Running to kick a stationary ball
- Improves hand-eye coordination when playing with building blocks
- Begins to improve pencil control by using fingers rather than the whole fist to grasp a pencil.
Children learn more in their first three years. As a child’s attention span, memory and language skills develop they become more social and are able to interact with people in situations where direct supervision by parents is not necessary.