When our son was 2 ½ years old, we heard about a preschool that did not have more than 12 children in a class. We made an appointment, and immediately liked what we saw.
Our son did very well in the new school. In the first year, he received attention and freedom. He was happy, and so were we. In the second year, his classes became more structured, and the school made an effort to keep him busy. The teachers worked on his sensory issues and taught him to touch new textures. They also taught him to eat two new foods, which was a big win. The teachers even baked him vegetable muffins that hid the smell of certain vegetables from him. They did a great job and really tried their best. But a child with autism needs one-on-one attention, and we felt a better plan could be made for these children. The owner of the school offered us a space where we could help our son and other kids like him. Our non-profit company was born.
I started the project in 2016 with Mandie Knoesen, the owner of Piccolini Daycare, and Annilize De Villiers, an accountant I thought was a nice fit. We researched preschool development and developmental milestones from 12 months to 5 years of age, and identified the red flags for autism and other disorders. Toys, cost estimates and programs we should follow were also on the agenda.
An overview of research on preschool development from 12 months to 5 years of age:
- Gross Motoring Skills – (walking, running, jumping, climbing, balance, strength)
Gross Motor development involves the larger, stronger muscle groups of the body. In early childhood, the development of these muscles enables a baby to hold his or her head up, sit, crawl and eventually walk, run, and skip.
- Fine Motoring Skills – (colouring, cutting, beading, Lego, drawing)
“Fine motor” refers to the movements we make with the small muscles of the hands. Children start to use their hands right at birth to explore their own bodies and the world around them. Their fine motor skills develop as their bodies start to move and become more stable.
- Understanding and Thinking Skills – (figuring things out, paying attention, memory)
Right from birth, children are aware of their surroundings and want to explore them. As your child plays and interacts with objects, he or she learns about his or her body, home, and the world.
- Communication Skills – What might my preschooler do?
This is a time when a child’s vocabulary grows. Meaning and sentence structure become more complex. This change in language represents the development of cognitive abilities. Preschoolers depend on language to make their wants and needs known, solve problems, ask questions, and play with others.
- Eating and Drinking Skills
By the time your child is 3 years old, he or she should be eating and drinking most of the foods that the rest of the family is eating. However, children at this age can be “picky-eaters” because they are starting to assert their independence and want to have a say in what they eat. This is normal, and should be acknowledged. However, at this age there is still a risk of choking. Try to avoid serving foods in large chunks, and foods that are tough to chew.
- Self-Care Skills – Between the ages of 4 to 5 years
Sleeping Research shows that getting enough sleep is extremely important for your child’s development and brain function. This is also the time that children become responsible for brushing their own teeth.
- Social and Emotional Development – (playing with others, controlling emotions)
This area of development involves learning to interact with other people, and understanding how to control emotions. Children continue to develop their social-emotional skills well into their teenage years.
In the coming weeks I will talk about ASD, Co Morbid Disorders and programs we follow.
Written by Elizabeth Tsikkos for Inspirare Academy www.thehannasmithagency.com