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Typical developmental milestones for infants (birth to 18 months of age)

18 months

Physical & Motor Skill Markers:​

  • Is growing at a slower rate and has less of an appetite compared to the months before

  • Able to control muscles, but may not be ready to use the toilet

  • Runs stiffly and falls often

  • Is able to get onto small chairs without help

  • Walks up stairs while holding on

  • Can build a tower of 2 to 4 blocks

  • Can use a spoon and cup with help to feed self

  • Imitates scribbling

  • Can turn 2 or 3 pages of a book at a time.


Sensory & Cognitive Markers:

  • Shows affection​

  • Listens to a story or looks at pictures

  • Can say 10 or more words when asked

  • Kisses parents with lips puckered

  • Identifies one or more parts of the body

  • Understands and is able to point to and identify common objects

  • Often imitates

  • Is able to take off some clothing items, such as gloves, hats, and socks

  • Begins to feel a sense of ownership, identifying people and objects by saying "my".

Play Recommendations:

  • Encourage and provide the necessary space for physical activity.

  • Provide safe copies of adult tools and equipment for the child to play with.

  • Allow the child to help around the house and participate in the family's daily responsibilities.

  • Encourage play that involves building and creativity.

  • Read to the child.

  • Encourage play dates with children of the same age.

  • Avoid television and other screen time before age 2.

  • Play simple games together, such as puzzles and shape sorting.

  • Use a transitional object to help with separation anxiety.

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Typical developmental milestones for toddlers (18 months to 3 years of age)

3 years


Physical & Motor Skill Markers:​

  • Reaches about half of his or her adult height

  • Has improved balance

  • Has improved vision (20/30)

  • Needs 11 to 13 hours of sleep a day

  • May have daytime control over bowel and bladder functions (may have nighttime control as well)

  • Can briefly balance and hop on one foot

  • May walk up stairs with alternating feet (without holding the rail)

  • Can build a block tower of more than 9 cubes

  • Can easily place small objects in a small opening

  • Can copy a circle

  • Can pedal a tricycle

Sensory, Mental & Social Markers:

  • Almost all of a child's speech should be understandable.

  • Speaks in sentences of 3 words

  • Counts 3 objects

  • Uses plurals and pronouns (he/she)

  • Often asks questions

  • Can dress self, only needing help with shoelaces, buttons, and other fasteners in awkward places

  • Can stay focused for a longer period of time

  • Has a longer attention span

  • Feeds self easily

  • Acts out social encounters through play activities

  • Becomes less afraid when separated from mother or caregiver for short periods of time

  • Fears imaginary things

  • Knows own name, age, and gender (boy/girl)

  • Starts to share

  • Has some cooperative play (building tower of blocks together).

Play Recommendations:

  • Provide a safe play area and constant supervision.

  • Provide the necessary space for physical activity.

  • Help your child take part in - and learn the rules of - sports and games.​

  • Visit local areas of interest.

  • Encourage your child to help with small household chores, such as helping set the table or picking up toys.

  • Encourage play with other children to help develop social skills.

  • Encourage creative play.

  • Read together.

  • Encourage your child to learn by answering their questions.

  • Provide activities related to your child's interests.

  • Encourage your child to use words to express feelings (rather than acting out).

Art Class
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Typical developmental milestones for Preschool age (3 to 5 years of age)

5 years

Physical & Motor Skill Markers:

  • Vision reaches 20/20

  • Has better coordination (getting the arms, legs, and body to work together)

  • Skips, jumps, and hops with good balance

  • Stays balanced while standing on one foot with eyes closed

  • Shows more skill with simple tools and writing utensils

  • Can copy a triangle

  • Can use a knife to spread soft foods.

Sensory & Cognitive Markers:

  • Vocabulary of more than 2,000 words

  • Speaks in sentences of 5 or more words

  • Can identify different coins

  • Can count to 10

  • Can properly name the primary colours, and possibly many more colours

  • Asks deeper questions that address meaning and purpose

  • Can answer "why" questions

  • Is more responsible and says "I'm sorry" when they make mistakes

  • Shows less aggressive behaviour

  • Outgrows earlier childhood fears

  • Accepts other points of view (but may not understand them)

  • Has improved math skills

  • Questions others, including parents

  • Strongly identifies with the parent of the same sex

  • Has a group of friends

  • Likes to imagine and pretend while playing.

Play Recommendations:

  • Reading together

  • Providing enough space for the child to be active

  • Teaching the child how to take part in - and learn the rules of - sports and games

  • Encouraging the child to play with other children, which helps develop social skills

  • Playing creatively with the child

  • Limiting both the time and content of television and computer viewing

  • Visiting local areas of interest

  • Encouraging the child to perform small household chores, such as helping set the table or picking up toys after playing.

Boys at School
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Primary School

Typical developmental stages for Primary School age (5 to 11 years of age)


Physical & Motor Skill Markers:

  • School age children most often have smooth and strong motor skills. However, their coordination (especially eye-hand), endurance, balance, and physical abilities vary.

  • Fine motor skills also vary widely. These skills can affect a child's ability to write neatly, dress appropriately, and perform certain chores, such as making beds or doing dishes.

  • There will be big differences in height, weight, and build among children of this age range. It is important to remember that genetic background, nutrition and exercise, may affect a child's growth. Children in this age group should get 1 hour of physical activity per day.

  • A sense of body image begins developing around age 6.

  • There can also be a big difference in the age at which children begin to develop secondary sexual characteristics. For girls, these include breast development and underarm and pubic hair growth. For boys, they include: growth of underarm, chest, and pubic hair and growth of testicles and penis.


  • The first few years of school focus on learning the fundamentals.

  • In year 3 the focus becomes more complex where reading becomes more about the content than identifying letters and words.

  • An ability to pay attention is important for success both at school and at home. A 6-year-old should be able to focus on a task for at least 15 minutes. By age 9, a child should be able to focus attention for about an hour.

  • It is important for the child to learn how to deal with failure or frustration without losing self-esteem. There are many causes of school failure, including: learning disabilities, such a reading disability, stressors, such as bullying or mental health issues. If you suspect any of these in your child, talk to your child's teacher or GP.

Parenting Tips:

  • Encourage children to express themselves openly and talk about concerns without fear of punishment.

  • While encouraging children to participate in a variety of social and physical experiences, be careful not to over-schedule free time. Free play or simple, quiet time is important so the child does not always feel pushed to perform.

  • Children today are exposed to many issues dealing with violence, sexuality, and substance abuse. Discuss these issues openly with your children to share concerns or correct misconceptions. You may need to set limits to ensure children will be exposed to certain issues only when they are ready.

  • Encourage children to participate in constructive activities such as sports, clubs, arts, music, and scouts. Try to find a balance between family time, school work, free play, and structured activities.

  • School-age children should participate in family chores, such as setting the table and cleaning up.

  • Limit screen time (television and other media) to 2 hours a day.

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Secondary School

Typical developmental stages for Secondary School age (11 to 16 years of age)


Behaviour & Feelings:

  • The sudden and rapid physical changes that secondary school age children go through often make them very self-conscious. They are sensitive, and worried about their own body changes.

  • Physical changes may not occur in a smooth, regular schedule. Therefore, they may go through awkward stages, both in their appearance and physical coordination. Girls may be anxious if they are not ready for the beginning of their menstrual periods. Boys may worry if they do not know about nocturnal emissions.

  • During these years, it is normal for young people to begin to separate from their parents and make their own identity.

  • Friends become more important as adolescents pull away from their parents in a search for their own identity. Their peer group may become a safe haven. This allows them to test new ideas.

  • In early adolescence, the peer group most often consists of non-romantic friendships. 

  • As the youth moves into mid-adolescence (14 to 16 years) and beyond, the peer group expands to include romantic friendships.

  • In mid-to late adolescence (16 - 18) , young people often feel the need to establish their sexual identity. They need to become comfortable with their body and sexual feelings.

  • Adolescents most often need privacy to understand the changes taking place in their bodies. Ideally, they should be allowed to have their own bedroom. If this is not possible, they should have at least some private space.

  • Teasing an adolescent child about physical changes is inappropriate. It may lead to self-consciousness and embarrassment.

  • Parents need to remember that it is natural and normal for their adolescent to be interested in body changes and sexual topics. It does not mean that their child is involved in sexual activity.

Independence & Conflict:

  • The teenager's quest to become independent is a normal part of development. The parent should not see it as a rejection or loss of control. Parents need to be constant and consistent. They should be available to listen to the child's ideas without dominating the child's independent identity.

  • Although adolescents always challenge authority figures, they need or want limits. Limits provide a safe boundary for them to grow and function.

  • Parents should be ready for and recognise common conflicts that may develop while parenting adolescents.

  • Parents should know that their adolescents will repeatedly challenge their authority. Keeping open lines of communication and clear, yet negotiable, limits or boundaries may help reduce major conflicts.