Developmental milestones are the essential abilities, such as moving, seeing, hearing, communicating and interacting with other people, that babies and toddlers learn as they begin to engage with the world. According to the Early Years Learning Framework, this is made up of physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language milestones. Boys achieve their developmental milestones in the early years primarily through play, because it allows them to explore, observe, experiment, problem-solve and learn from mistakes all while having fun.
Here’s how play helps boys to achieve their developmental milestones in the early years.
1. Physical development
In the early years, physical development is just as important as intellectual growth; physical play can even speed up boys’ intellectual development. Play helps to develop boys’ gross motor skills, such as crawling, walking and jumping, as well as his fine motor skills, including his ability to control his hands to build blocks or grip a pencil to draw a picture. By playing catch or kicking a ball, boys learn to develop hand, eye and foot coordination.
2. Social development
Social developmental milestones are related to how a toddler reacts to those around them. Researchers from the University of Maryland suggest that various forms of play — object play, pretend play and rough-and-tumble play teaches young children the skills needed for social interactions, school and life beyond. Their study found that children who engage in more play have a greater capacity for self-regulation, cooperation and social cooperation.
3. Emotional development
Play-based learning is useful in developing self-confidence, happiness and self-esteem for boys — this is what emotional development is all about. For example, playing in the playground encourages boys to take risks. When they take risks and overcome challenges, boys develop a sense of accomplishment and build self-confidence. Play also encourages children to fully express themselves, such as during role-playing, when they are encouraged to be cooperative and build conflict resolution skills.
4. Cognitive development
Cognitive development, which is the ability to think, understand, communicate, remember and imagine, affects boys’ learning, his senses and how he engages with the world. Children in the early years are naturally curious and want to know how things work; the best way you can help facilitate this is through play. The relationships he develops on the playground can also be a catalyst to his cognitive development. It is important that your toddler has a ‘social life’ — in other words, organise play dates, read books together or do a group project.
5. Language development
Play-based learning has a significant impact on childrens’ speech and language development, with some babies starting to develop language skills before 12 months of age. Play gives children the opportunity to practice the language skills they have learned and to build on their expanding vocabulary. For example, solitary play encourages boys to be attentive and to develop their listening skills — essential for maintaining a conversation with others. Where cooperative play enhances communication, enabling boys to learn from peers along with imaginative play, giving them the chance to recreate experiences and share ideas.
In the early years, play and learning through doing is an essential exploration for boys to help them achieve their developmental milestones. It’s important to remember that all boys are different and will reach these milestones at different times.
At Christ Church Grammar School, our Early Learning Community (ELC) offers a warm and nurturing environment that caters for the educational needs of boys. Learning in the ELC is developmentally appropriate, child centred and play-based. If you would like to learn more about our early years offering, why not book a tour and see our school in action.