Developmental Progress Report
It’s a new year. The holidays are over, and life is slowly getting back to normal. A new grading period has just begun for school-age children and in a few weeks, a progress report will be sent home telling how they are doing in the classroom. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you received developmental progress reports for your child along the way? Well here you go! You are the teacher, and this is your grading rubric to check your child’s development of speech and language, along with fine and gross motor skills. If you see any of these signs in your child, don’t panic – keep reading. Engage your child in the home activity listed under each sign and consider speaking with a speech/language, occupational, or physical therapist. Okay, parents, time to be the teacher.
1. Does your child tiptoe most, if not all of the time?
This may indicate a sensory processing difficulty. Encourage your child to put their whole foot on the floor. Make a game out of it – stomp around the house.
2. Does your child point or lead you to what they want more often than using words?
By age 2, your child should be putting words together to tell you what they want instead of leading you to or reaching for the object. Expand on what your child says. For example, if they say or reach for the milk, say, “Oh, you want milk”. Another way to expand your child’s language would be to talk about what you’re doing as you’re doing it.
3. Does your child fall frequently during gross motor activities such as walking and running?
Of course, all children fall, but by age 2 or 3, your child should be a skilled walker, and by age 4, your child should be a skilled runner. To increase their balance, have your child pretend to be a flamingo or a pirate by standing on one leg.
4. Does your child hold a crayon or pencil with their whole hand or have an awkward grip?
By age 3, your child should begin using three fingers, their thumb, pointer, and middle fingers, to hold a crayon or pencil. Difficulty here may be due to weak hand or finger muscles. To strengthen these muscles, ask your child to help you decorate the house by putting clothespins everywhere you can find to clip them.
5. Does your child misunderstand spoken directions that involve multiple steps, especially steps to complete in a certain order?
Yes, children can be selective – and distracted – listeners, but if your child seems to really be listening and still missing the information, there may be an auditory processing deficit. Slowly repeat the instructions to your child and have your child repeat them back to you to help them think through what has been said.
6. Does your child have difficulties jumping over a toy or climbing up stairs?
This may indicate decreased core strength. Whether we realize it or not, core strength is used in many of our daily activities. A fun way to help strengthen your child’s core is to play the wheelbarrow game. Hold their feet and ask them to use their hands to walk. You can do this with your child around the house making stops along the way to pick up their toys!
7. Does your child resist touch or seek touch all the time?
This can be due to a sensory integration difficulty. Your child may not know how to regulate all the sensory input we typically receive or give on a daily basis. Your child may benefit from a sensory diet, therapeutic techniques you can incorporate into your child’s daily activities, typically provided by an occupational therapist.
8. Does your child overreact to loud noises such as trains, sirens, or crowds?
Your child may be having trouble processing noises, especially at a high volume. Consider investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones for your child to wear at pep rallies, sporting events, and other noisy environments, at least until they are better able to process sounds.
9. Do you or others find it difficult to understand your child’s speech?
Some speech sounds don’t come easily for all children, and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean they’ll never be able to say that sound(s) correctly; it just means they may need some help to do so. Sounds that affect understandability the most – p, b, t, d, k, g, and m – are usually acquired by age 3. Consider speaking with a speech/language therapist to address your child’s speech sound errors.
Remember that all children develop differently, but if your child’s teacher has mentioned a difference she has seen between your child and their peers or if you’ve noticed anything that concerns you, look into it. Seek out a professional’s opinion. The sooner developmental delays are noticed and addressed, the better!
Maggie Siler, a Louisiana native, is a Speech/Language Pathologist with Laskin Therapy Group in Ridgeland. She loves coffee, traveling to Nicaragua for mission trips, and her 5 nieces and nephews.