Domains of Early Childhood Development

The Seven Domains of Early Childhood Development


I’m going to sound a bit like a textbook right now.  I’m sorry.  Bear with me.  You’ll be glad you did…I hope.  :)

I was taught in my early childhood courses that there are 6 domains of early childhood development.  I say there are 7, but we’ll get to that later…

All homes, preschools, and daycare programs should aim to address each of these domains when teaching a young child.

Everything I post on this site will relate to one of the domains below. I will to make sure there is a variety (not all alphabet activities, for example), but obviously the Social/Emotional and Self-Help/Adaptive won’t have the depth or breadth as the others.

  • Gross motor:  This involves learning to use all of the “big” muscles in our body.  Crawling, walking, running, skipping, jumping, and climbing are all examples of gross motor activity.  For gross motor activities, go here.
Rough-&-tumble play with Daddy is great for gross motor development!

  • Fine motor:  Fine motor activities teach hand-eye coordination.  These activities require a child to learn to precisely control the muscles in the hands.  Things like coloring, writing, cutting with scissors, using tweezers, tearing paper, etc. all help build fine motor skills.  You can find lots of fine motor activities here.

  • Language:  This domain includes alphabetics, phonemic awareness, oral, and written language.  Even though your little one won’t be able to read for several years, you can (and most definitely should) read to her.  Talking about things throughout the day (even when it feels silly) is especially important as well.  Learning the ABC’s (as well as the sounds each letter makes) is another example of a language activity.  Language activities can be found here.

  • Cognitive:  This includes cause-and-effect, reasoning, as well as early-math skills.  Believe it or not, a baby who continually drops a spoon from his high-chair is exercising his cognitive ability.  He learns that when he drops it, you will pick it up (cause-and-effect).  Counting and patterning are also included in this domain for preschoolers.  Activities that involve cognitive development can be found here.
These Heart Breaker Number Puzzles were a great way to reinforce one one-to-one correspondence and number recognition.

  • Social/Emotional:  Your child is a social being!  Learning to “play” (especially with others) is a skill.  “Teaching” in this domain also involves making sure a child feels safe and nurtured.  Manners and using kind words might also be examples included in this domain.  Go here for more information and ideas on social/emotional development.
Little Brother and his baby friend learning to share
  • Self-Help/Adaptive:  Activities in this domain include learning to dress oneself, , feed oneself, using the toilet, brushing teeth, bathing, tying shoes, etc.  Everything that a child needs to know to start being more independent could be included in this domain.
Big Brother likes to help Little Brother get clean!
The main thing to know about these domains is they are all equally important (hence the equal parts of the pie).  Running, jumping, and climbing are just important for a child as learning the ABC’s.  Most of all, let your child be a child!!!  After all, if they don’t have time to be a kid now, when will they?
Each of these domains are also interrelated.  When your baby starts crawling (a gross motor milestone), he will also be enhancing his cognitive abilities by learning about the world around him.  Learning new words will encourage him to participate more in social situations.  Just watch your child for a few minutes and you will see how each domain affects the others.

Finally, I told you earlier that I think that there are actually 7 domains.  You won’t find this one in any textbooks!  Unlike the others, I think that this is the most important and I will make no apologies for it.  Here is the seventh and most important domain:

  • Spiritual & MoralTeaching your child to love and obey God is the most important thing you can ever do!  Recognizing the difference between right and wrong will fall in place if you are simultaneously teaching and modeling God’s love.  In my opinion, this is the area that is most lacking in our culture today.  And if parents don’t teach it, who will???
These Advent Boxes helped us capture the true meaning of Christmas.


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