Hesperian Health Guides

How children develop

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HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 1: How Can I Help My Child? > How children develop

Every child develops in 3 main areas: physical (body), mental (thinking), and social (talking, listening, and getting along with other people). In each area, a child learns new skills step by step in a certain order.

Before a child can learn to walk, for example, he must first learn many simple kinds of body control:

a baby lying on his back playing with a rattle.
a baby pushing himself to a sitting position.
1. First, he needs to be able to hold his head up and to move his arms and legs.
2. Then he can use his arms and legs to lift himself to sit.
a baby sitting and reaching to one side.
a baby pulling himself to a standing position, using a chair.
3. While sitting, he begins to reach, lean, and twist. This helps him develop balance – a skill he will soon need for standing and walking.
4. Then he pulls himself up to a standing position.

Before a child can have a conversation with other people, he needs to learn many simple communication skills like:

a child handing a box to a woman.
Give it to me, please.
a child standing with arms stretched up.
1. understanding simple words and requests 2. using signs or gestures
a child speaking while standing with arms stretched up.
HCWB Ch1 Page 5-4.png
Smells good.
3. saying simple words 4. using short sentences

a baby putting blocks on top of each other.
Each new skill builds on already-learned skills, like building blocks.

Each new skill a child learns builds on the skills he already knows and prepares him to learn other, more difficult skills. So when a child does not learn a skill, this means he not only has problems with that skill, but with other skills that depend on it.

For example, if he has a problem holding up his head, he will then have difficulty learning skills like sitting or crawling in which holding up the head is important. Over time, his development begins to fall behind other children his age.