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How to Advance the Physical & Intellectual Development of Children

by Rosenya Faith, studioD

Kids are constantly exploring their environment and watching you at every moment to learn about the world around them and how to act. You can help your child develop the physical and intellectual skills necessary for learning and play, and incorporate skill development into daily life from craft time to mealtime, to make every aspect of learning entertaining and engaging.

Provide plenty of opportunities for sensory exploration in your child's daily activities. Encourage your child to squeeze modeling clay between her fingers and rub finger paint between her fingers to explore textures. Talk about different odors as you prepare foods in the kitchen and encourage your child to taste a variety of healthful foods. Play music often and try to incorporate it into games and activities. The purpose is to encourage your child to explore, to learn about similarities and differences, and to further her interest in investigation and inquiry.

Make sensory exploration bags for young children. These are made from sealable bags, filled about half full with a variety of items such as miniature pom poms, paint, dish soap, glitter and vegetable oil. Once sealed, these bags can be squeezed or laid flat and used as mess-free painting projects. Press a finger along the bag to paint by dispersing the liquid inside.

Play imaginative games to let your child try out new roles. When your child plays “house,” she is experimenting and learning through modeling your actions and characteristics. The same experimenting takes place through superhero play or imagination games with fairies, princesses, pirates, animals and any other role your child can try out.

Read to your child often and make it an interactive experience. Ask your child questions at the end of sections or pages to develop her listening skills, draw pictures together or events from the story and have your child complete the last word of sentences from familiar stories.

Thread pasta or cereal onto string with young children to improve fine motor coordination. Once your child is older, switch to smaller beads and make jewelry she can wear. Another simple activity that encourages this type of fine motor skill is trying to zip up zippers, snaps and buttons on clothing.

Incorporate coloring into your activity schedule regularly to improve fine motor skills. Start with larger crayons for small children and let older children use smaller crayons, pencil crayons and markers.

Use obstacle courses to develop gross motor skills. Incorporate obstacles that require your child to walk, skip, hop, run, gallop and crawl. All of these activities will help your child with balance, coordination, flexibility and spatial awareness.

Items you will need
  •  Modeling clay
  •  Sealable bags
  •  Miniature pompoms
  •  Paint
  •  Dish soap
  •  Glitter
  •  Vegetable oil
  •  Pasta or cereal
  •  String
  •  Crayons


  • Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow; Carol Kranowitz, et al.
  • Child Development: An Active Learning Approach; Laura E. Levine, et al.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Katy McDonnell/Digital Vision/Getty Images