There are a whole slew of child development terms that you might hear from your pediatrician or from your child’s therapists or teachers. This page is a great one-stop-shop to find all of the definitions you need to understand child development!
At The Inspired Treehouse, we believe that information about developmental milestones and child development should be accessible to everyone, not just medical professionals. You won’t find a lot of complicated lingo here – we prefer breaking things down into terms that are a little less intimidating.
We’ve written blog posts on all of the developmental terms below to help make things more accessible to parents and others who want to learn about child development. From gross motor to fine motor to sensory and more…when it comes to developmental terminology (and easy-to-understand definitions), you’ll find everything you’re looking for below!
Click on the links below to find out more about each of the child development terms.
Child Development Terms From A to Z
A is for AGILITY
Agility refers to the ability to move quickly and easily and to be able to change the direction of your movements quickly.
B is for BALANCE
Balance, the ability to hold your body upright and steady without falling down, is as important in adulthood as it is in childhood. Find out more about how balance develops and why it’s so important to kids’ development!
C is for COORDINATION
Body coordination or motor coordination is the combination of body movements created with direction and force that results in intended actions.
D is for DEXTERITY
Dexterity is the ability to use your hands skillfully, fluently, quickly, and easily. Learn more about why kids need to master a skill that seems so complicated.
E is for ENDURANCE
Endurance is defined as the ability to demonstrate sustained effort without physical fatigue. So basically, endurance is how long you can keep moving!
F is for FINGER ISOLATION
Finger isolation is the ability to move one finger at a time. Learn more about this skill and how kids use it in everyday life.
G is for GRASP
Grasp refers to how children pick up and hold onto tools, objects – anything in their environment.
H is for HAND DOMINANCE
Hand dominance refers to the fact that most children gravitate toward one hand or the other as their “strong” hand – the hand that is better at performing complex tasks like handwriting, picking up small objects, or using a fork or a spoon. Find out about when this skill is expected to develop.
I is for IN-HAND MANIPULATION SKILLS
In-hand manipulation skills allow kids to explore and use small objects by moving them around within their hands. Learn about the various skills that are involved with in-hand manipulation.
J is for JUMPING
Throughout the course of child development, jumping usually happens right around the age of 3 (sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later).
K is for KICKING
Did you know that kicking is a developmental milestone? It is one skill that we measure on standardized tests when we are looking at a child’s motor skills in comparison with their peers.
L is for LETTER FORMATION
Learn about letter formation and letter construction from a school-based occupational therapist.
M is for MIDLINE CROSSING
Crossing the midline means that a child is able to efficiently use and move the limbs of one side of the body in the space of the opposite side of their body. Find out more about why midline crossing is so crucial for the development of motor skills.
N is for NEWBORN REFLEXES
Newborn reflexes, also known as primitive reflexes, are an important part of development for all children. Learn more about the reflexes and what can happen when they are not integrated on a typical timeline.
O is for OPPOSITION
Thumb opposition refers to a child’s ability to move his thumb and fingers to be able to touch one another.
P is for POSTURE
Learn more about why good posture is important and why so many kids struggle with it!
Q is for CHILD DEVELOPMENT QUESTION & ANSWER
Some of the most common questions we hear about kids health and development development all in one place with some tips, ideas, and links to other helpful resources.
R is for ROLLING
At what age do babies roll over? Learn more about this important baby milestone here!
S is for SITTING
When do babies learn to sit up? Learn more about this important developmental skill and how you can support it in your child.
T is for TALKING
Quick and effective tips on how to promote early language development through music, laughter, and play.
U is for UNDERSTANDING (COGNITIVE SKILLS)
Cognitive skills are the way we understand and make sense of the world around us. Find out more about these skills and how they develop.
V is for VISUAL PERCEPTUAL SKILLS
Visual perceptual skills are comprised of several different skill areas. Learn about all of them here!
W is for WALKING
If you’ve been wondering “what age do babies walk?” This post is for you! Learn about this important skill and how to support babies that are learning to walk.
The XYZs of Child Development
More Resources about Developmental Skills and Milestones:
Developmental Milestones for Children
Developmental milestones are the all-important building blocks of childhood. Every child develops differently, but there are general guidelines that pediatricians, therapists, and developmental specialists follow to ensure that your child is progressing with these skills.
What should you expect? What are the milestone red flags? What can you do to encourage strengthening and growth? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with resources for all age groups.
Developmental Milestones Mini Course
Overwhelmed by all of the child development information you find online? At a loss for how to keep kids and babies entertained while giving them exposure to important skills? Are you a therapist who is on the lookout for easy-to-read information to help with carry-over of skills in the classroom or at home? This is the course for you!