Often when I am conducting an Initial Evaluation, I am frequently asked by parents, “Is my child supposed to be able to do that?” This is a great question because many parents are not informed of what their child is expected to do at a given age.
Here are some skills that your child should be able to do at the average range. Note: many children are able to complete these tasks around this time but this does not apply to all. Some babies start to crawl at 9 months, some babies crawl at 10 months while others do not crawl at all. Developmental milestones are met so that your child can advance to more complicated coordinated movements. If you feel your child is severely delayed, you should speak to your pediatrician.
1-2 Years Old At this stage, your child is going to start standing with support, cruising, and eventually walking. They are able to crawl up stairs, dance, feed themselves, scribble with a crayon, can drink from an open cup, attempt to utilize utensils, and can roll a large ball. Your child should feel good about their attempts to become more independent at this stage. Let them spill and get messy during feeding time, that is the only way they will learn how to control their little muscles. They will use simple words like mama, dada, baba. They should be able to turn a knob. Ways to help these skills are to make sure your child has plenty of tummy time, room to crawl and explore safely, and to have various textured toys that allow them to explore critical thinking.
2-4 Years Old Children are learning to try more advanced movement patterns: running, pushing and pulling a toy while walking, throwing and kicking a ball, and walking up and down stairs. Their fine motor skills get more and more precise. They can construct with blocks, write vertical and horizontal lines. Stringing beads at this stage works on eye-hand coordination as well as visual skills. At this age, I also introduce scissors. I start with the plastic scissors that come with play-doh sets. I roll out the play-doh into a snake and have the child snip. To prep children for cutting, I have them use tongs to pick up objects. This preps the coordination they will require to cut. Simple puzzles are great to introduce at this stage as well.
4-5 Years Old Children are able to copy a circle, cross, and square. They are now holding the writing utensils with a more mature grasp. They are able to copy simple letters (T, H, E, I, L, F). They have mastered snipping with scissors and can now cut on a line. They should be able to copy numbers 1-5 and trace over a simple line. They should be able to complete simple puzzles (around 12 pieces). Having your child play with kinetic sand or help you roll out dough are great ways to build fine motor skills needed to achieve these skills. Using strips of paper to make these letters and seeing if your child can copy your image is an excellent way of working on their visual skills without writing.
5-6 Years Old Children should now be able to cut out simple shapes, independently brush their teeth and hair (although I always tell parents to check to make sure they did a thorough job). Copy and or design simple Lego and Block designs. Dressing and undressing independently (including fasteners). They are now able to draw from their imagination and become more creative in their art and start cutting soft foods. There are great books or fun tutorials that use simple shapes to make animals or objects. This is a great way to work on coloring and drawing without artistic talent. I have the children I work with use circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles to make cats, dogs, dinosaurs, and fish. You can have them use glue and fun crafts to make beautiful art.
6-7 Years Old By now they should be writing letters and numbers independently. Able to self-care independently and able to tie their shoes. When teaching children to tie shoes, I take an old shoe and use 2 different color laces. This makes it easier to see what goes where.
7-8 Years Old We should now see children writing legibly and on a line. Dressing and toileting independently. Drawing detailed pictures.
If your child is having any delays in these areas, please talk to your child's Pediatrician. The earlier they are able to detect any concerns impacting their skill the better!