Key Developmental Skills


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Sensory Skills include touch (tactile), vision, hearing (auditory), taste and smell. They are key in a child’s development and are necessary for every activity that they do. Children develop sensory skills while still in the womb and continue to refine these skills well into their childhood years; so it goes without saying that the exploration of, and exposure to, a variety of different sensations and sensory experiences is very important for a child’s overall development.


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Gross Motor Skills are a child’s ability to walk, run, jump and climb. The large muscles of our bodies, in our arms (biceps and triceps) and legs (hamstrings and quadriceps), are responsible for helping us perform these actions smoothly and successfully. Gross Motor Skills develop from a very early age when babies learn to roll over, sit and crawl, and they continue to develop all through childhood. The culmination of these skills can be seen when children reach milestones like being able to ride a bike without training wheels, or swing independently on a swing.


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While Gross Motor Skills focus on the large muscle groups, Fine Motor Skills are developed through the small muscle groups, particularly those in the hands and face. From using the muscles around the mouth in learning to speak, to developing hand skills, Fine Motor Skills take longer and are more difficult for children to achieve. For example the Fine Motor Skills of the hand, which start with full open hand grasping of toys as babies, culminate in a perfect tripod pencil grip on a child’s pencil while they are writing neatly at school.


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Fine motor skills are not just used in the classroom but are important for everyday living, and in particular self care activities. Getting dressed in the morning and doing up zips, buttons and laces requires good gross and fine motor skills. Brushing teeth and hair as well as toileting skills all fall under the self care category. In order to assist children to become independent, self confident little people, developing Self Care Skills are of the utmost importance.


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Being able to plan, “what am I going to wear today and how do I use my large and small muscles to move my body to put this top on properly?” is actually a very complex activity, yet one that many of us take for granted! This is the kind of activity which embodies our Cognitive Skills. Memory skills and sequencing of tasks (the order in which things happen) are also very important Cognitive Skills to develop as a child grows up.


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Closely linked to Cognitive Skills are Perceptual Skills. Perceptual Skills rely heavily on our visual skills and how we see things, such as depth (distance), shapes and how they relate to one another (e.g. with puzzles) and size (big vs. small). These skills are very important for succeeding in the classroom and have a close link to handwriting and letter formation.


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Social and Emotional Skills rely heavily on one another for a child’s overall wellbeing; which is why these last two developmental skills are so strongly intertwined with each other. Amongst other Emotional and Social Skills, things like listening to instructions and taking turns are valuable developments for every child if they are to succeed in life. Positive experiences through play and interactions contribute towards a healthy self confidence in our little people.

Why are these important?

We seldom consider all the smaller components that combine together to make a child the unique and wonderful human being that they are. So, we’ve broken down the bigger picture into seven components to help us to have a better understanding of our children from a developmental skills point of view.

Remember!

Every product page on the site shows a classification of that product according to these key developmental skills. We hope you will use this information to help find suitable toys and games that bring balance to your child's play across all skill areas.