Progress can simply be defined as the growth of your child's development, however the term is not restricted or limited to this definition.
Progress should be monitored and assessed regularly. Yet, how do you as a parent judge your child's progress?
Start by keeping a simple notebook or diary and record the following:
Progress can be viewed in some of the following categories:
- Development (Physically): medical practitioners, such as doctors, nurses and paediatricians are able to give you as a parent expected guidelines for your child's development. These guidelines include steps like when your child should be able to crawl, start talking and walking to adolescent milestones. It is essential to remember that some children reach these milestones early and others are slightly delayed. As a parent your role is to identify if there is an excessive delay or if the milestone is achieved excessively early.
- Development (Emotionally and Cognitively): this area is slightly more difficult to monitor as information is not as freely available and specific professionals are essential to note these difficulties, one specific professional is a clinical psychologist. However, as a parent you can be involved in developing your child's cognitive (mental abilities) and assisting their emotional progress. It is suggested that you use materials available to you to avoid incorrectly assessing your child's milestones thereby expecting "too much - too early". This may create stress in your relationship with your child - if you are unsure either use the information available to you or contact a professional. This area is as critical as the physical development, but is often neglected.
- Academic/Schooling/Educational: the primary professional in this area is the teacher/educator. It is suggested that you use parent/teacher meeting and ask the following questions: What is expected of my child this term? Do you have any areas of concern? What can I do at home to ensure my child is capable of the work required of them at school? What is my child's behaviour in class? How do they relate to their work? What is their relationship like with their peers? Are there any noticeable characteristics that may prevent my child from functioning in class and associating with their peers? You may wonder why asking about your child's emotional and social well-being in class is important. It is simple: an unhappy child does not perform academically.
- Social and Emotional: the interactions your child has with their peers, adults and other individuals are related to their personality and "learned behaviours" - what you as a parent teaches them and what they imitate from you, as well as, their peers and other individuals. The importance of values, manners and social etiquette stems from you. You as a parent are required to help your child develop the correct social skills so that they are able to communicate and associate in a social environment. Key factors to look out for with regards to social and emotional difficulties: isolation and rejection from peers (being bullied or is the bully), unable to relate to their peers, not listening in a conversation, unacceptable behaviour and emotional regulation/control difficulties.
Remember to build your knowledge as a parent, if you notice a concern consult a professional if you are not happy with their diagnosis then search for a second opinion before making any consequential decisions for your child. Correlate and collaborate your information to make an informed and knowledgeable decision.
- Always try and gather as much information about your child in as many settings as possible school (the teacher), aftercare (individuals who work there), extramural activities and even from the family. Everybody will see your child differently - this because children, like adults, react differently in different situations. Look for similarities and differences in the settings.
- Ask your child everyday about their day: how they felt, what did they do, who was nice and who made them feel sad?
- Try your best as a parent to keep things clear and transparent in your child's life.