Why the First 5 Years of Child Development are So Important

As parents, you know that the first 5 years of development are the most critical. Over a child’s first 5 years of life, their brain develops more and faster than at any other point. From new-born babies to toddlers, children go through their major developmental milestones in their early years, all of which parents can help with. Creating the best environment for your child’s development will help them evolve their health, wellbeing and trajectory for the rest of their lives.

Physical Development

 As babies, physical development is measured in months. From being able to hold their own head up and roll over in their first months, to taking their first steps around 9 – 12 months, it’s amazing to watch the quick progression children make. As they develop and get older, children start to grow their fine motor skills, such as being able to hold a crayon, draw a circle and by the age of 4 or 5, being able to print letters. It’s important to note however that all children develop at different stages, with some picking certain skills up quicker than others.

As a parent, there are lots of ways you can aid your child with their physical development:

  • Create a supportive and encouraging environment.

Allow for safe spaces that your children can roam free in, such as room for your child to crawl with safe objects that they can practice picking up.

  • Create spaces for practice and play.

As children get older, give them space to run, jump, kick, throw balls and practice the physical skills they are learning.

  • Use activities such as puzzles, drawings and stringing beads together to improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Cognitive Development

85% of a person’s brain is developed by the age of 5. Cognitive development is harder to measure in babies, but there are some significant milestones that can be noticed. In their early years, babies will begin to create their own facial expressions to show how they are feeling, as well as being able to recognise the faces of others. By the age of 1, babies can understand the concept of object permanence – that an object exists even if it isn’t being looked at.

Young toddlers learn through imitation and exploration. By the ages of 4-5 children observe the world and can analyse what they see. As is common with toddlers, your child is full of curiosity and will constantly be asking “why?”. At this stage children are questioning the world around them to develop a greater understanding of it, getting them to the stage of preparedness needed to start school.

How to aid your child with their cognitive development:

  • The primary way children learn is through play.

Create lots of opportunities for children to play, at home, with other children and in playgroups.

  • Answer questions.

Help children gain a greater understanding of the world around them by answering questions they may have.

  • Everyday moments.

The simplest way to help your child is to talk, sing and read to them.

In their first 5 years, children will develop quicker than at any other times in their lives. Creating the best environment for your child’s learning process will give them a happy and healthy place for their most crucial and developmental years.