Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Milestones Aplenty!

Raising kids is full of so many amazing moments and also lots of questions. Am I doing this right? Is my baby learning appropriately? When should they be walking/talking/reading etc?

Luckily for all of us in this day and age of the internet, when you're looking for some answers, VTech, a trusted name in childrens' products, has an Expert Panel that is compiled of six experts including Dr. Lise Eliot--an Early Childhood Mental Development Expert.  Dr. Eliot collaborated with VTech to develop the Milestones resource that is so helpful!

  • The milestones in that resource are broken down in ages newborn to 9 years old. 
  • Each age range is broken down into 3 categories of development:  Language & Cognitive, Social & Emotional, and Physical & Motor.
  • The categories explain different characteristics and developments that your child is faced with at that specific age and followed by products recommended to best suit your child.

I had the opportunity to submit some of my own child development questions for Dr. Eliot along with other parents and I'm excited to share that one of my questions was randomly chosen! {The first question about reading is mine.}


"In this day of pushing children to do everything earlier and earlier, what age range is truly developmentally appropriate for early reading skills?
As always, it depends on the child, but for the average kid, age 5-6 is plenty early to begin formal reading instruction.  Before that age, focus on your child's mastery of the alphabet and letter sounds. ABC books are great for this, especially if they have clever pictures that tell a story using many words with the same beginning sound. Rhyming books and songs are also great for teaching letter sounds, so once children start focusing on letter patterns, they will already be familiar with the rhyming sounds they make. You can also look for toys that serve as vocabulary builders, like VTech’s Spinning Lights Learning Hippo, which promote phonics and language development that can help with early reading skills.

My youngest seems to be developing later than her older siblings, is this normal and is there anything I can do to encourage her progress? If she is delayed when it comes to early Milestones, will it affect her progress later?
Every child develops differently, so if you have two kids, there is almost no way they will develop on the same timetable.  Parents and teachers tend to focus on the more overt milestones, like vocabulary and motor skills.  But children are learning in many domains simultaneously, and chances are that your child is absorbing plenty about the social and physical world which may not be obvious from her behavior.  Unfortunately, our school culture awards children who mature faster, so look for ways to counteract this for your daughter by finding other areas (art, music, crafts, building toys, sports, dance, etc.) in which she can develop confidence.

What are some inexpensive toys or games that will help encourage gross motor skills in my children?
The least expensive way to build motor skills is to go outside!  The extra room is often all kids need to start running, skipping, and jumping in ways that parents often frown on indoors. Your nearest playground adds opportunity for climbing and swinging that also build children's strength, stamina and coordination. If you are looking or something for your own yard, hang a tree swing, or purchase a jump rope or a soccer goal and ball.  A tumbling mat is also a great addition for indoors if you have room in your basement or playroom. And if your child is old enough (5+) for organized sports, many communities have recreational leagues that are less expensive than the fancier club sports.

If my 18-month-old is not speaking words yet, what can I do as a parent to help them with their development?
The most important stimulation any young child receives is verbal--talk to your baby; sing to him; read to him; engage him in "dialogue" even if you are only pretending that his babbles make sense.  Your child understands words, even if he cannot say them, and will appreciate the sense of being understood.  However, if your child really has no spoken vocabulary at 18 months, you should talk to your pediatrician, who may refer you to a speech therapist.

How do I encourage my 12-month-old to walk, when he seems content to crawl everywhere?
Don't worry about it!  Crawling is a delightful, too-short phase that many children skip outright.  And yet, there is evidence that crawling develops a child's visual-spatial abilities in unique ways that walking cannot replicate. As long as your child is learning to balance on two feet (holding on to a coffee-table or walker toy like VTech’s Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train he will eventually master those first independent steps.  Before long, he'll be running and racing and you will barely remember this adorable crawling phase."


Recent milestones in my house have included a language explosion in Violet, who is now 25 months! (I really just say 2, but specific months matter too!) She is completing complex sentences,asking questions, repeating numbers and letters, recognizing patterns. She is making such amazing connections! She also loves building with blocks too, so the Vtech Sit to Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train has been a favorite!
  • Kids can play ten activities while learning letters, numbers, colors and more
  • The train helps build motor skills with six manipulative features including a storybook, clock, gears and 13 double-sided letter blocks that little ones can plug into the side of the train to learn letters and build their vocabulary
  • When little conductors get older, the caboose converts into a wagon they can fill with toys and pull along to develop gross motor skills
Violet loves riding toys complete with her keys and sunglasses and a kiss before she goes.

Lily is officially a reader! She loves kindergarten and all her love of learning just spills over into everything she does. She is sounding out words everywhere she looks and not just when she sees words, but looking at objects, she sounds out how she thinks they should be spelled! She wants to read and write all the time! I love it so much! Often kids are only hearing beginning and ending sounds at this point in kindergarten. Lily does all the middle sounds too. Learning to write is my favorite! She wrote a letter the other day and said a baby was "cuoote" and made sure to tell me that the "bossy 'e'" is the reason those vowels are saying their name. :)  Lily STILL loves to use the VTech Alphabet Apple  and it's fun to watch her beam when she knows correctly!

Vtech is going above and beyond just providing quality learning toys. They're conferring with experts to help find specific products to help your little ones hit all the milestones and love learning while they play!

Disclosure: The VTech product and information have been provided by VTech.

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