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Skills develop in a fairly predictable order.  For example, you can't throw a ball until you have the ability to pick it up.  You can't pick it up until you can coordinate the movement of your fingers.  

In Active Learning it is important to understand the developmental sequence of skills and provide activities that require skills the learner has.  This way the individual will feel success and use that skill to learn something new. Higher level skills will develop naturally as foundational skills solidify. Always offer activities at the child's developmental level; you may adapt with materials to make the activity age appropriate. Slowly provide new experience to foster growth.

Using hand-over-hand to "show" a child how to do something should be avoided! If the child allows you may want to model some movements using hand-under-hand techniques.

When we target skills at a higher level than the child is currently functioning, we begin to see confustion, frustration and resistance from the child. Often these responses are interpreted as "behavioral challenges" and if we persist in pushing the child to do things above his/her developmental level, they will likely become problematic. We have to be good playmates, allowing the child to take the lead and playing at his/her level. 

Description: This video is designed to show you what happens when a typical 2-year-old child is presented with tasks that are at a developmental level that is far above her functioning level.  This girl has typical vision and hearing, with no identified learning problems. Her aunt, who is on the staff at the Penrickton Center for Blind Children, has created this video specifically to demonstrate what happens when a task is not appropriate for a child’s developmental level.

Developmentally Appropriate Activity
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)


Need to learn more about typical development? If you can, talk to your Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech-Language Therapist, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and/or Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing about your child's developmental levels. If they have done an assessment, they should be able to explain where you child is developmentally and what skills typically develop next. You may want to get a copy of the Functional Scheme which can help you assess what skills you child has currently across nineteen areas of development. You may also want to check out some of these resources to learn a bit more about typical development if you don't have access to the Functional Scheme or other developmental checklists. It is important to note that if your child has a vision or hearing loss, physical challenges or cognitive challenges there may be differences in how these skills develop. Check with your therapists who can help you understand more about your child's specific develop and needs.

Gross Motor

Fine Motor

Oral Motor

Social and Emotional DevelopmentEmotional Development

Communication