Children’s developmental patterns follow the same sequence for all children but individual children develop at different rates. For example, babies from birth to 12 months begin lift and turn their head, begin to sit up at around 6 month. So, a baby must have head control before they can sit unsupported. Another child may sit up and walk missing out rolling over and crawling. Even this element are missed, the development is viewed as an expected pattern. A toddler is able to walk before they can run. This sequence is building up skills to enable the next stage of development. A baby cannot talk in 2-3 words sentence from birth; they start to communicate by crying, babbling, saying a few words, and only then stringing words together and make a full sentence.
According to Burnham et al (2010), the difference between the sequence of development and the rate of development is that the sequence refers to the normal or expected sequence in which children learn different skills. The rate of development involves a time frame linked to age in which a child develops and milestones will always occur in the same sequence. Milestones are usually used to track children’s development. They measure individual child’s progress and can indicate any deviation from the norm. It helps to identify the particular child’s needs during the stages of their development and to plan the support effectively. So children will get opportunities to improve their abilities in the areas they find most difficult. For instance, a child with language problems can then be referred to a speech therapist who would then work with the childcare setting to implement ways or skills that will help the child.
The rate of children development depends on factors, such as disability and health issues, the environment in which they are growing up, family support and their background. A child could develop in one are well, but has lack of ability in other development area. For example, an eighteen mouth old baby may have a good vocabulary, but not able to walk or stand alone.
It is important to observe and note the difference between sequence of development and the rate of development, so that the individual child’s needs are met. It is essential to know the child individually and know what stage of development they are. It gives us, as practitioners, knowledge and understanding on how a child is developing, concerns are easily spotted, investigated and the required support is offered. Children reach different stages at different times. Development should be viewed as a ‘whole’ and areas of concern should be monitored and supported when necessary.