Child development entails the biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the end of adolescence, as the individual progresses from dependency to increasing autonomy. It is a continuous process with a predictable sequence, yet having a unique course for every child. It does not progress at the same rate and each stage is affected by the preceding developmental experiences. Because these developmental changes may be strongly influenced by genetic factors and events during prenatal life, genetics and prenatal development are usually included as part of the study of child development. Related terms include developmental psychology, referring to development throughout the lifespan, and pediatrics, the branch of medicine relating to the care of children. Developmental change may occur as a result of genetically-controlled processes known as maturation, or as a result of environmental factors and learning, but most commonly involves an interaction between the two. It may also occur as a result of human nature and our ability to learn from our environment.
There are various definitions of periods in a child's development, since each period is a continuum with individual differences regarding start and ending. Some age-related development periods and examples of defined intervals are: newborn (ages 0–4 weeks); infant (ages 4 weeks – 1 year); toddler (ages 1–3 years); preschooler (ages 4–6 years); school-aged child (ages 6–12 years); adolescent (ages 13–18).
Promoting child development through parental training, among other factors, promotes excellent rates of child development. Parents play a large role in a child's life, socialization, and development. Having multiple parents can add stability to the child's life and therefore encourage healthy development. Another influential factor in a child's development is the quality of their care. Child care programs present a critical opportunity for the promotion of child development.
The optimal development of children is considered vital to society and so it is important to understand the social, cognitive, emotional, and educational development of children. Increased research and interest in this field has resulted in new theories and strategies, with specific regard to practice that promotes development within the school system. There are also some theories that seek to describe a sequence of states that compose child development.
Source: Child Development