Tracking my daughter’s developmental milestones has always been important to me. I want to make sure that she is on par with her peers, and that I am supporting all areas of her development. During the first year of her life, our pediatrician was a great resource for helping me track her development. As she got older and the time between regular checkups increased, however, I found myself searching for other resources to help track her development.
Here’s how I track my daughter’s development at home:
Print a chart – I like to have a paper copy a chart available to make quick notes while playing. Recently, I found Green Piñata's Guide to Educational Toys. This guide is so much more than just information on toys. It includes a chart for each age group with examples of skills that should be targeted in four areas of development (fine motor, language and math, cognitive, social and emotional). The guide also provides age-appropriate toy suggestions with skills that can be targeted and suggested ways to play with the toys. I don’t keep it around all the time, I just pull it out occasionally and make notes. Make sure to date your notes!
Set out an “invitation to play” – Set up a fun activity for your child that will target a specific skill. It can be as simple setting out a puzzle they enjoy, colored objects to sort, or art materials such as scissors or paint.
Provide activities/materials that stimulate all areas of development – Young children often find a “favorite” toy or activity, and show disinterest in other activities. Instead of trying to force activities that are not of interest, try to be creative in how you present activities to spark a new interest. Make notes about the activity, such as how long they engage, and how much assistance they need.
- If your child is vehicle obsessed, but doesn’t like coloring, print out some pictures of vehicles and ask your child to help give them a new paint job using an exciting art material like a paint pen or watercolors. Provide a variety of art materials that promote fine motor development (scissors, glue, crayons, markers) for your child to explore. Painting or decorating something other than paper is another great way to target fine motor skills for those typically not interested.
- Use your child’s favorite toys to target skills. Try counting all their cars, or sorting them by color or vehicle type. My daughter loves this Alphabet Puzzle, so recently before we did the puzzle together, I asked her to sort the pieces by color. While we played with vehicles and people, my daughter lined them all up and I asked her to count them.
- Stacking toys can be used for many purposes like sorting by color, sorting by size, and targeting early math vocabulary such as big, little, biggest, littlest.
- Provide opportunities for pretend play. Turn a cardboard box into a vehicle, build a fort or castle and let your child assign each of you a role, or play “house” with baby dolls or pretend food. Head over here for some great toy suggestions for pretend play.
Track over time – Every month or so, I repeat the same or similar activities and then compare the notes I’ve made on my charts. Can she count higher? Can she name more colors? Is she showing more preference for one hand over the other? These notes can also be an excellent resource to share with your pediatrician if there are any areas of development that you are concerned about.
Tracking development at home should be fun and informal! If an activity isn’t going as planned or your child is not interested, move on and come back at another time. Try to be creative in play and activity planning to encourage development in all areas, and as always, have fun!
How do you track your child’s development? Share with us in the comments!