What is typical development?

Early childhood educators in day care, as well as nursery and preschool programs, often get to witness children building new developmental skills. There are many ways of evaluating if children are developing typically and achieving their milestones. Some of the core milestones are:


Gross Motor Milestones

Fine Motor Milestones

Sitting up without help by about 7 months

Cruising by about 10 months

Standing without help by about 11 months

Walking along by 13 months

Using one stair at a time by 16 months

Running by 18 months

Kicking a ball by 24 months

Catching a ball by 36 months

Using a tricycle by 36 months


Using pincer grasp by 12 months

Scribbling by 12 months

Building a small block tower by 15 months

Copying a circle drawing by 24 months

Stringing beads by 36 months

Using scissors to cut shapes by 48 months

Writing name by 5 years


Language Milestones

Social Milestones

 Babbling by about 6 months

 Shaking head for, “No,” by about 8 months

Imitating sounds by about 9 months

Using a word with meaning by about 11 months

Using 3-5 words by 15 months

Speaking two-word sentences by 24 months

Speaking two-three words sentence by 36 months

Having 300 to 1000+ words by 48 months

Showing an object to a caregiver by 12 months

Pointing to objects by 12 months

Using pretend play by 18 months

Engaging in parallel play by 24 months

Taking turns by 33 months

Shares without prompting by 36 months

Using imaginary play by 36 months

Having a preferred friend by 48 months

Development is not the same for every child. Some children might walk earlier, others might talk earlier. A delay in one developmental area is not always a cause for concern.

Development is not the same for every child. Some children might walk earlier, others might talk earlier. A delay in one developmental area is not always a cause for concern.


When should I be concerned about a child's early development?

When children do not meet these milestones, some early developmental concerns might emerge. Indications of developmental delays vary from child to child, and they can have different extensions. Some occur early during a child’s development and others may emerge later, as well as some may be mild and others more severe. A general indicator is a child’s difficulty achieving one or more of their developmental milestones, such as moving, walking, communicating, or talking later than would be expected.

For example, when compared to other children the same age, a child may be behind in the ability of sitting on their own, standing on their feet, walking, or running. Another child may be having trouble communicating with words or behaving in unexpected ways when a classroom is busy or noisy. Another, still, may seem uninterested in talking or playing with peers or even when interested, interacting with them in unusual ways (e.g., hitting, throwing toys). It is also possible that a child may spontaneously lose one skill that they may have already acquired.


Early developmental concerns may emerge from a number of different causes, some of which occur before a child is born, some during childbirth, and others early in a child’s life. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Visual or hearing sensory impairments.
  • Autism, learning disabilities and intellectual developmental disorder.
  • Medical problems (e.g., genetic, hereditary, or metabolic conditions, prematurity, infections).
  • Prenatal exposure to toxins (e.g., lead, alcohol, controlled substances) or head trauma.
  • Maltreatment or psychosocial trauma.


Teachers spend a lot of time with children. If a teacher has a concern that a child in their classroom is not developing skills according to expectations or not achieving their milestones, they should discuss these concerns with the child’s caregivers, as well as with the school’s support staff, including the school psychologist, social worker or nurse.


What can I do to help a child facing an early developmental concern?

Timely identification and intervention are essential for supporting a child facing early developmental concerns. So, there are a few things that you may attempt:

  • Pay close attention. Observe the child's attempts to move and communicate, as well as observe their playtime. Children build skills rapidly at the beginning of their lives and, with each week that passes, a child with a delay can potentially fall behind his/her peers.
  • Identify the nature of the delay. Teachers can try to identify what areas of development (e.g., talking, moving, walking, socializing, etc.) a child is struggling with and bring the information to the attention of the child’s caregivers.
  • Keep track of the child’s progress. Teachers may use charts to keep track of a child's progress toward milestones in the same way they use charts to keep track of other learned pre-academic/academic skills.
  • Bring the concerns to a caregiver’s attention. A child’s caregivers need to know of anything concerning occurring in school. Caregivers may also be able to confirm if the same or similar delays are being observed outside of school.
  • Seek support. With a caregiver’s permission, teachers may consult other professionals who specialize in helping children achieve their milestones.

Occupational, physical, and speech-language therapists can help to determine if a delay is present through observation and evaluation of a child’s skills. Further, a child’s caregivers may choose to have these professionals to help their child build skills when they are struggling. Occupational, physical, and speech-language therapists also work with teachers and caregivers so that they know how to support skill development outside of therapy sessions.

The public system provides services through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Centers of Multidisciplinary Assessment, Counseling, and Support (KEDASY).


Also, there are many ways that a teacher can support a child facing early developmental concerns in the classroom. Classroom supports can be simple but very effective.

  • Ensure that you have the child’s attention before communicating.
  • Give direct, specific, and broken down, short instructions.
  • Ensure that the room is quiet before giving instructions.
  • Use visual cues and other visual aids to support what is said.
  • Provide opportunities for children to work and play together.
  • Praise children for their accomplishments.
  • Use daily routines to guide learning throughout the day.
  • Break tasks into smaller pieces so it is easier for children to understand their accomplishments.
  • Communicate with caregivers to learn about strategies they use at home


Skills that don't evolve the way they should despite efforts, difficulties that are discrepant from those faced by other children the same age and that negatively interfere with classroom daily activities may indicate the possibility of a Neurodevelopmental Disorder.


Where to find more information

Specific, detailed, and clinical information on on disorders associated with early developmental problems such as Intellectual Developmental Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be found at [clinical short guide at the program website].

If you want to know more about the closest available services for educational and public health systems for children and adolescent assistance across the country, go to our Services Mapping webpage here.

You can also find more information by pointing your phone camera at the QR code below or by clicking here.



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