Developmental Monitoring and Screening The first years of life are so important for a child’s development. Early experiences make a difference in how young children’s brains develop and can influence lifelong learning and health. Early childhood educators spend a great deal of time with young children and are instrumental in determining many of the kinds of experiences they will have. Developmental monitoring means observing and noting specific ways a child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves every day, in an ongoing way. Developmental monitoring often involves tracking a child’s development using a checklist of developmental milestones. Teachers are in a unique position to monitor the development of each child in their care. They may be the first one to observe potential delays in a child’s development. Working with groups of same-aged children can help teachers recognize children who reach milestones early and late. Working with children of different ages can help teachers notice if a child’s skills are more similar to those of a younger or older child than to those of his or her same-aged peers. Because teachers spend their day teaching, playing with, and watching children, they may find themselves concerned that a child in their care is not reaching milestones that other children his or her age have, or they may have families ask them if they are concerned about their child’s development.
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