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Developmental Milestones Guide for Early Childhood Educators

By August 4, 2022August 19th, 2022No Comments
Early Childhood Educators

As an early childcare assistant (ECA), you play a powerful role in supporting young minds, and their parents, as they embrace and navigate the extraordinary shifts and advancements of the first years of life. If you’ve taken daycare programs, childcare courses or daycare courses online to gain employment in early childhood education, undoubtedly, they covered the typical developmental phases to watch for so that you can effectively guide and communicate in your new career. But we thought a topline guide with resources could be helpful in giving you an overview of what to look for and, if you’re still considering an ECA career give you insight into the magic you could be a part of.

Why is Support During Early Childhood Development Essential?

Babies will grow, infants will advance and in a flash they’ll be tossed the keys to the car for a Saturday eve out. This growth will happen naturally. However, for children to not just survive but thrive as they grow, it serves them for us to know the milestones that they will hit month-to-month, year-to-year so we can provide the environments that help them flourish and address any challenge areas that require support.

Beyond helping them to find their way physically and mentally, understanding how to positively encourage and honour what a child needs, fosters confidence. This will make all the difference to babies turning into flourishing, contributing and happy adults. It starts young and as an ECA you can effectively encourage and educate others; this starts with gaining the knowledge and confidence yourself.

Development Areas to Consider

Every child is unique, but experts have a clear idea of the range of what is considered normal development from birth to 5 years. These skills are developed in several key and different areas:

  • Movement and physical – gross (large muscle) and fine (small muscle) motor skills
  • Cognitive – learning, understanding, reasoning, problem solving, remembering
  • Language and communication – from gestures and speaking to understanding and communicating with others
  • Social and emotional – connecting with and relating to others.

Understanding that these are areas that change and grow drastically in the first few years, we as educators can provide the play and learning environments that foster learning, modeling and their demonstrating in these defined areas. In reviewing this, we see that encouraging connection, communication, and understanding and expressing emotions are as essential as defining colours, sorting blocks and knowing numbers. The daycare courses/child daycare courses you select need to empower you as a student to consider, inspire and empower the whole child.

Guide to Developmental Milestones


* 2 – 4 Months

  • Smiling begins
  • Copying facial expressions / movements
  • Babbling
  • Turns head toward sounds
  • Tracks movement with their eyes
  • Can hold head up

*6 – 9 Months

  • Sits without support
  • Holds toys
  • Picks up objects
  • Pulls themselves to standing
  • Explores with hands and mouth
  • Works to get objects that are out of reach

*1 Year

  • Can crawl on hands and knees or scoot on bottom
  • Can often stand or take steps without support
  • Finds hidden items
  • Can follow simple directions, “Point to that toy”
  • Can say “mama/dada”
  • Shy/anxious with strangers

*18 Months

  • Can say a number of single words
  • Knows ordinary objects (spoon, car)
  • Points to what they want
  • Initiates play by handing items to another person
  • Climbs into chairs
  • Walks without help

*2 Years

  • Pulls a toy while walking
  • Shows excitement
  • Repeats words or sentences they’ve overheard
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Begins to run, climb, throw and stand on tiptoe
  • Kicks or throws a ball

*3 Years

  • Walks up and down stairs
  • Builds a tower of more than 6 blocks
  • Begins to take turns
  • Exhibits a wide range of emotions
  • Shows concern for others
  • Follows instructions with two or three steps
  • Plays make-believe
  • Dresses and undresses themselves

*4 Years

  • Catches a bouncing ball
  • Inventive and enjoys trying new things
  • Knows some basic grammar rules
  • Starts to understand time and counting
  • Pours, cuts and mashes their food with supervision
  • Draws circles and squares

*5 Years

  • Imitates the behaviour of others
  • Likes to sing, dance and playact
  • Speaks clearly in full sentences
  • Can print some letters or numbers
  • Can use the toilet on their own
  • Enthusiastic about the company of other children

In understanding these key areas of childhood development, as an ECA you can encourage and celebrate the advancement of children in your care and flag potential concerns with your team and/or parents. For a full list of milestones to be aware of you can always use this essential resource, and of course consult your expert instructors at Anderson College.

Still considering whether a career as an ECA is for you, take the “Anderson College Medical Professional Career Training Readiness Quiz”. Or if you’re all set for your Early Childcare Assistant career, book a virtual appointment today and let’s get you started!

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