Thursday, July 22, 2010

Seeing the blessings

Being an Early Childhood teacher with a background in child development is a mixed blessing and curse.  It means I know the major developmental milestones, their average time frame, and their order of appearance.  The most important detail about each of those is that they are all averages.  Each child grows at her own pace, in her own way.  That can be so hard to remember sometimes.

For example, I'm quite perturbed at the moment at Tye's lack of a developed pincer grasp.  She is close, but she doesn't use it well or often.  Is it simply because I don't provide many opportunities to practice because items that tiny are choking hazards?  Or is it because the items she's trying to pick up- slimy banana, mushy avocado- are challenging pincer-grasp materials?  All this concern, and Tye's still within the realm of normal.
I'm much less worried about Tye's mobility, even though so many kiddos her age are crawling at high speeds.  Some of that is simply because I am trying to enjoy every day I have before my job difficulty increases tenfold with her locomotion.  Perhaps it's also because Tye is so very, very close to crawling.  She scoots all over the place on her belly using a version of an army crawl, arms and legs propelling her across the hardwood, tile, or rug with her belly hugging the floor. Yesterday, she scooted herself backwards into a corner, looked at me and chuckled, then pulled herself away and back to her toys.  She's a good example of enjoying the journey as much as the destination as she grins at the act of moving herself.  She's also good motivation to keep my floors nice and spotless, because otherwise her clothes rubbing on the floor will show the dirt I've not yet scoured.  

Tye is also pulling herself up to stand next to items that are coffee-table height.  With that comes the need to babyproof beyond just outlet covers.  I'm sitting on my couch writing this, looking at the bookshelves on either side of our fireplace in front of me.  Yup, there's a lot of stuff we need to move- the reed fragrance diffuser on the bottom shelf, the potted orchid on the second shelf, the Wii with the power cord hanging within reach.  And I should probably dust behind the books, because they'll be cleared by little hands soon enough.  
Also relatively recent for Tye: the application of the law of object permanence.  She has loved peek-a-boo for over a month, but now she applies the rule to situations as they arise.  Most notably, she now knows where to find her favorite food sources even when they're hiding under my shirt and will reach in to grab them when she's hungry or tired.

Another developmental area that doesn't concern me is play skills.  While most of us don't recognize the very earliest stages of play because they happen so early and usually effortlessly, my experience teaching students with autism provides me with heightened awareness of the most basic skills.  Because children with autism often have very minimum functional play skills, we had to start at the beginning.  The first play skill to develop is taking out- everything from removing items one at a time to dumping.  Tye has that one down, although it's one that kids love and makes them famous later on when they remove every pot and pan from the cupboard or dump out the entire box of cereal onto the kitchen floor.  
The next developmental step is to put in, which starts with simply putting an item into a container.  This step is a special one to me because it was the first play skill we taught most of our students (most came in knowing how to dump all too well).  Two days ago, Tye started putting her toys into the empty cardboard oatmeal container.  Stage two reached.  (With these developmental stages of play, she'll continue to practice each previous stage as she reaches the next- for example, she'll need to take an item out of the container to put it back in; for the rest of her life, she'll use that skill of "taking out" to access the materials she needs, like crayons out of a box or blocks out of a bucket.  The skills build on each other, utilizing previous skills as she advances.)

Watching a tiny human develop is amazing.  I'm amazed by Tye's constant growth and especially intrigued by each new milestone, whether she reaches it ahead of or behind that designated "average" age.  She's my own little longitudinal case study.  Even when her growth is further behind in that range of average, I find the blessing in being reminded to enjoy each stage while it's here and focus on each step- or army crawl scoot- of the journey.


  1. If it makes you feel any better, Olive developed a pincer grasp very early. It was more of an indication of her early love for chocolate chips--high motivation. :0

  2. Olive always did have strong preferences :)

  3. It's been so amazing to watch my daughter grow and learn. It truly is amazing how she just figures things out on her own. I can see why every parent thinks their own child is a genius! I don't know anything about child development so it was interesting for me to read your post. Thank you!

  4. Revel, you're so right about babies giving their parents reason to think they're geniuses. To watch one as young as Tye accomplish what she does seems amazing- even knowing that most kids her age are doing the same thing! :)


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