Developmental Milestones: There’s an App for That!

  • July 13, 2018

As an early childhood professional, understanding developmental milestones for your classroom is extremely important. Not only for knowing whether or not they’re on track, but also understanding if there are any potential developmental delays that need to be addressed.

When it comes to developmental milestones, there are some indicators that you will want to keep in mind:

Physical Milestones

At age two, most toddlers will have conquered some basic gross motor skills, such as walking, running and jumping with both feet and throwing and kicking a ball. For fine motor skills, most toddlers will be brushing their own teeth and hair and may even turn on the faucet to wash their own hands. 

Cognitive Milestones

Children will begin to think in new ways typically by the end of year two and will start building on their cognitive abilities, which could include, more complex pretend play, they may even recite their favorite books and nursery rhymes and group toys by size, color and/or type. 

Language Milestones

As children get to the end of their third year they will have a better understanding of what you say to them and of course are beginning to talk more (much more)! At this point, they may be repeating what they hear, will start asking “why?” and “what’s that?” and may associate nouns and verbs in a sentence, such as, “dog runs” and have a vocabulary of around 200+ words. 

Social and Emotional Milestones

Socially, toddlers are finding their independence and will be more interested in their peers by mimicking them, playing near or with other kids and begin doing things on their own and without an adult’s help. You may also see more frustration that is expressed in a form of a tantrum, but this is a toddler’s normal way of expressing their frustration. 

Children develop at different paces, but if you notice any delays in development, early intervention plays a key role in helping the child meet their milestones at a healthier stride. 

Need some extra guidance with understanding and keeping pace with your preschooler’s development? Or, do the families you serve have questions about their children’s development? (e.g., Is her progress on track? Should I take him to a specialist? Is this normal?) 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a Milestone Tracker app to track children’s milestones from age 2 months to 5 years. Although not a substitute for standardized developmental screening, the app supports families and caregivers in better understanding children’s developmental milestones. 

It includes checklists, tips, photos, videos and suggested actions when families feel concerned about their child’s development. It also includes a feature to email a summary of the child’s development to doctors or care providers. 

Opportunities for ways to use this app in your program include:

  • Share information about the app with families so they can better understand their child’s developmental milestones.
  • Ask families to share their child’s summary with their caregiver. This family input can serve many purposes such as opening dialogue about potential developmental concerns and discussing family’s goals for their child’s development.
  • Support families and caregivers to plan and integrate activities between the home and care setting.
  • Use the app as a tool for ongoing progress monitoring in your classroom or home care setting.

Documentation Tip- If your program uses the CDC milestone tracker summary to gather family input about children’s development and would like this to be considered on your program’s Points Scale Assessment, be sure to label it with the child’s first and last name, and have the family member sign and include a full date the form.

Visit the CDC website for printable flyers and information, as well as additional resources on child development. There is also a specific section for Early Childhood Educators.

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