Early Intervention: How Monitoring Developmental Milestones Can Identify Potential Delays


30 May 2024

A Cute Happy Asian 10 Months Old Toddler Baby Boy

Much like childhood habits that persist into adulthood, the significance of early intervention in a child’s developmental journey lingers far beyond their initial years. In the pursuit of preparing our children for the world, the focus often narrows to specific schools or academic milestones. However, it might be time to shift our gaze towards a more holistic perspective.

The decisions you make, as parents, in recognising and addressing potential developmental delays early on can shape a child’s trajectory for years to come. Keep reading to find out more.

The Importance of Monitoring Developmental Milestones

Early Identification of Delays

Spotting potential delays in your child’s development is a key element for targeted support. For instance, a toddler attempting to grasp a toy but struggling to hold it securely or a child finding it challenging to coordinate movements while playing sports are subtle cues. These may be signs of developmental delays and identifying them allows both parents and professionals to intervene, shaping a child’s developmental path positively.

Timely Intervention

Addressing developmental delays promptly can be a turning point in your child’s journey. For example, if your child exhibits delays in language development, sending them for developmental screening and speech therapy initiated at an early stage becomes the factor that defines their lifelong communication skills.

Individualised Support

Similar to how everyone has their unique childhood quirks, providing personalised support caters to the individual needs of each child. It is about understanding that every developmental journey is distinct and tailoring interventions accordingly ensures a customised approach for optimal growth. At this stage, a preschool educator’s role, apart from parents, also comes into play — acting as both observer and facilitator in enhancing the child’s development. 

Peace of Mind

It gives parents a sense of peace, letting them tackle the twists and turns of their child’s growth with a steady hand. With each milestone, they know they are not just watching but actively building a strong foundation for their little one’s well-being.

Red Flags and Signs of Developmental Delays

Beyond recognising the importance of early identification, it is also crucial to understand the red flags and warning signs as parents, so you can seek professional help as soon as possible. 

Motor Skills 

Watch for delays in achieving motor milestones, such as crawling, walking, or fine motor skills like grasping objects. If your child constantly struggles with coordination or shows hesitancy in physical activities, it might signal motor skill delays. For example, a 13 to 14-month-old child should be able to stand up from the floor without support while a two-year-old child should be able to walk and run fairly well. 

Learn more about motor skills development here.

Language and Communication

If you notice your child having trouble with speech, using limited words, or grappling with expressing themselves, it could be a sign of possible language and communication delays. Take note that there is generally no cause for excessive concern regarding your child’s pronunciation until they reach the ages of three to seven. However, if your child, despite apparent interest in the alphabet, fails to speak by the age of two or struggles to identify letters, it may be prudent to consider developmental screening, as such instances may warrant closer attention1.

Cognitive Abilities

Keep an eye on your child’s problem-solving skills, memory retention, and overall cognitive development. Delays in cognitive abilities may manifest as challenges in understanding concepts, reasoning, or tackling age-appropriate tasks. 

Social and Emotional Skills

Observing your child’s interactions with peers and adults is essential. Difficulties in making friends, expressing emotions, or understanding social cues may point to delays in social and emotional development. You may want to consult your child’s preschool teacher for insights into their social dynamics and behaviour in school. 

Sensory Processing

As per insights from Ms Evelyn Chan, Senior Occupational Therapist at NTUC First Campus, children grappling with sensory processing difficulties often manifest “unusual” or “extreme reactions, aversions, or fears” in response to specific sensory input or stimulation. Recognisable indicators encompass behaviours like exhibiting aversions towards particular food textures, tastes, or smells, showing discomfort with specific clothing textures or tags, and displaying resistance to activities like haircuts or nail trimming.

Development Support-Learning Support (DSLS) Programmes

The DSLS, a programme under the Child Support Model, is all about spotting and addressing possible developmental delays. Learning Support Educators team up with Therapists to create Individualised Educational Plans tailored to each child’s unique needs. Targeted interventions cover crucial areas such as speech and language, social skills, motor skills, behaviour, and literacy. These interventions are then integrated into the preschool environment, ensuring a comprehensive and effective approach to support the child’s development.

Closing Thoughts

Parents, supported by educators in some of the best preschools in Singapore like My First Skool and Little Skool-House, can take steps to identify and address potential developmental delays. By doing so, we contribute to the holistic development of our children, setting the stage for a brighter and more promising future.

Find out how NTUC First Campus can be your partner in empowering your child’s learning.

1 Tee, K. (n.d.). Speech delay in children: signs to watch out for – HealthXchange. https://www.healthxchange.sg/children/childhood-conditions/speech-delay-children-signs

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