From the moment we are born, we begin developing the skills we need for life. Not only do children rapidly acquire a range of physical, cognitive and emotional capabilities during their early childhood years, this is also a critical period for brain development. The experiences that children have during their early years have a significant impact on the way they develop; the interactions and relationships they have with their caregivers at home and elsewhere are particularly important.
For children who attend child care, the quality of these settings also influences their development. The staff and carers in a good quality child care service will support your child’s learning and development by getting to know them well and responding to their interests and needs.
Although there are some things that apply to children of all ages, the way that your child is supported to achieve their developmental milestones at child care will vary according to their age and stage of development.
Some typical characteristics of quality child care for different age groups include:
For Babies (0-12 months)
The first 12 months of a baby’s life is a time of significant development. Physically they begin to develop the skills that they will eventually need to move, play and feed themselves independently. They gradually begin to understand that their hands, fingers, feet and toes are attached to their bodies. They develop head and neck control and start reaching, grasping, rolling, pulling themselves around and crawling. By around 12 months they are beginning to pull themselves up on people and furniture.
These physical activities require a safe and stimulating child care environment, with plenty of uncluttered, soft space and interesting props such as rattles and manipulative toys. It is important that staff and carers provide opportunities and encouragement for your baby to test and challenge their physical skills through planned and spontaneous experiences.
The relationships that the adults have with your baby at child care are also very important to your child’s social, emotional and language development. During this first year your baby will develop their early communication skills, gradually learning to laugh, babble, make eye contact and communicate with gestures. By 12 months of age babies are often able to understand simple words such as ‘no’, ‘ta’ and ‘bye’.
To support the achievement of these early milestones at child care, staff and carers should take many opportunities to spend one to one time with your baby, including during care routines such as nappy changing, toileting, dressing, eating and sleep/rest times. These times will be used to talk with your child and to build positive, trusting relationships with them. There also needs to be many playful social experiences such as songs, rhymes, peek-a-boo games, and sharing books and stories, as well as lots of comforting physical contact between the carers and your baby. For example, smiles, cuddles and being held while having a bottle.
For toddlers (12 months-3 years):
As children become toddlers, they become increasingly independent. Many children are able to stand and walk on their own by 15 months and to run by 20 months. As they move toward the age of three, most children are beginning to attempt to dress and undress themselves without help. From around the age of two, children often begin to show signs that they are ready to start toilet training (or toilet learning).
Between the ages of two and three, children’s language skills develop rapidly, and they are beginning to use language to communicate their ideas, needs and questions to others. They are also beginning to learn about getting along with others, and at this time they will begin to play with peers for short periods of time. However, children at this age are very self-focused, and they often find it difficult and frustrating to share and take turns.
To support your child’s development between 12 months and three years, it is important that child care professionals understand the particular challenges that most children experience as they test their independence and power and gain a deeper understanding of their world. Staff and carers use positive ways to guide your toddler’s behaviour to help them to learn which behaviours are okay and which are not. They recognise that toddlers are still developing their skills and they should support your child sensitively when they are frustrated or acting impulsively. They will also help your child to learn the skills to get along with other children.
Quality child care services should regularly plan experiences and activities that are based on your child’s individual interests and strengths. There will also be plenty of opportunities for conversations, problem solving and exploring through everyday happenings and routines. Your toddler will also be provided with opportunities and encouragement to develop their independence and their efforts will be praised, including those that have not been entirely successful.
For preschool aged children (3-5 years):
As children move into the preschool years their independence and physical capabilities increase dramatically, and they usually become much more aware of and interested in others, and they begin to develop empathy.
Children of this age participate in a lot of pretend play. Their language skills become increasingly complex and they can engage in quite lengthy discussions with peers and adults. As they move into the older preschool age group, many children are also developing early reading, writing and numeracy skills.
Child care services need to support your preschooler to develop their self-esteem and confidence and to gain a sense of being a valued and contributing member of the group. There will be a strong focus on supporting your child to engage in meaningful and respectful conversations and interactions with other children and adults. Your child should also be provided with encouragement and opportunities to develop their independence and to take an active role in managing their own behaviour.
The planned activities provided for your child will be based on their interests and abilities, and they will be supported to begin to develop the skills that they will need when they start school.
Every child will achieve their developmental milestones in different ways and at a different pace. Good quality child care services recognise that each child has their own strengths and interests, and they will use their knowledge of your child to support their learning and development.
National Childcare Accreditation Council Inc. www.ncac.gov.au
State-wide Court Network Telephone and Referral Service – open between 9.00am and 5.00pm every weekday.
Tel: 03 9603 7433 or
Tel: (toll free) 1800 681 614
Witness Assistance Service
If the court case is being prosecuted by the Office of Public Prosecutions
Tel: 03 9603 7523 or 03 9603 7422 or
Tel: (toll free)1800 641 927
Victims Assistance and Counselling Program
Victims of Crime Helpline: 1800 819 817
Going to Court
There are a number of reasons you may need to attend court – either as a party to a case, as a witness or to support family or friends. In this section you will find introductory information about:
- giving evidence in court
- making an oath or affirmation
- how different people are able to provide affidavits to the court.
You will also find:
- clear explanations of commonly used terms including who the accused persons and plaintiffs are
- how juries are selected and their rights and responsibilities
- how judgments are passed.
There is also a list of support services including information about legal aid and victim support.
You should visit individual court sites to find specific information about how each court works. If you are going to court you should also seek legal advice.