Data: Gaining Skills During the First Five Years

During their first 5 years, children learn the basic skills necessary for their future development. The four main areas are physical skills, manual dexterity, language, and social skills. Although children progress at different rates, developmental milestones occur in a predictable order. This is partly because the ability to learn particular skills depends upon the maturity of the child’s nervous system. In addition, for some complex skills, children need to develop a lesser skill first; for example, babies must learn to stand before they can walk.

Physical skills

Babies first master control of their body posture and head, then go on to develop physical skills, including standing, crawling, and walking.

Manual dexterity and vision

Children have to coordinate their movement and vision to perform manipulative tasks, such as picking up objects or drawing.

Hearing and language

Early on, babies turn towards voices and respond to sounds by cooing. At about 1 year, children speak their first word.

Social behaviour and play

Self-care begins with basic skills, such as dressing and toilet training. Social skills range from smiling to making the first new friends.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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