What Skills Develop First?

Have you ever wondered what skills develop first in humans? From the moment we are born, we begin to learn and develop new abilities. However, not all skills develop at the same rate or time. Understanding which skills come first can help us better support and encourage the development of children.

Research has shown that certain physical and cognitive skills tend to develop earlier than others. For example, infants typically develop their motor skills such as grasping and crawling before they begin to speak or understand language.

Additionally, social-emotional skills like smiling and responding to faces are often seen in babies before they can walk or run.

In this article, we will explore the order in which different types of skills tend to develop in humans and how this knowledge can inform our interactions with young children.

Physical Motor Skills

As babies grow, their physical motor skills develop at a rapid pace. From being able to lift their heads up during tummy time to crawling and eventually walking, gross motor skills are the foundation for children’s physical development.

Gross motor skills involve the larger muscles in the body and include activities such as running, jumping, and throwing.

In contrast, fine motor skills involve smaller muscles in the hands and fingers that enable more precise movements such as picking up small objects or holding a pencil.

While gross motor skills are important for overall physical development, fine motor skills play a crucial role in cognitive development and are necessary for academic success later on.

Early intervention is key to ensuring that both gross and fine motor skills develop appropriately, setting children up for success in all aspects of life.

Cognitive Skills

Let’s explore the cognitive skills that develop in young children, starting with early language development.

We’ll then look at the development of problem-solving skills in the same age group.

Early Language Development

As babies grow and develop, they begin to learn and understand language.

Early language development is a crucial part of cognitive skills development.

Children reach certain language milestones at various stages of their early lives.

From cooing and babbling in the first few months to saying their first words around one year old, language acquisition is a process that is influenced by the importance of parent-child interactions.

Parents who engage with their children through talking, singing, reading, and playing help promote language development.

By providing a rich linguistic environment, parents can help their children acquire vocabulary, grammar, and communication skills necessary for successful cognitive development.

Problem-Solving Skills

As children continue to grow and develop, they not only acquire language skills but also critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These cognitive skills are essential for success in both academic and real-life settings.

Problem-solving skills involve the ability to identify problems, analyze them, and come up with effective solutions. In the workplace, employees who possess strong problem-solving abilities are highly valued as they can help organizations overcome complex challenges efficiently.

Real-life examples of problem solving include finding solutions to household issues, resolving conflicts with friends or family members, and figuring out how to navigate unfamiliar situations. The importance of problem-solving skills cannot be overstated as they enable individuals to make informed decisions and tackle life’s challenges effectively.

Social-Emotional Development

Social-Emotional Development is a critical aspect of a child’s growth and development process.

Emotional intelligence is one of the key skills that develop first in children. It involves the ability to understand, manage, and express emotions effectively. As children grow, they become more self-aware of their emotions and learn how to regulate them.

Social skills are also an integral part of social-emotional development. These skills enable children to interact and communicate with others effectively. Children learn these skills by observing their parents, teachers, peers, and other adults around them.

As they engage in play activities and interact with others in different settings, they develop important social skills such as cooperation, sharing, empathy, and problem-solving.

As children build their emotional intelligence and social skills through interactions with others, they also begin to form relationships. These relationships can be with family members, friends or classmates.

Relationships contribute positively to a child’s emotional well-being as it provides a sense of belongingness and security.

In summary, social-emotional development is crucial for a child’s overall well-being. Emotional intelligence and social skills are two key areas that develop first in children as they learn how to interact with others effectively.

These early experiences lay a strong foundation for healthy relationships in the future.

Language And Communication

Social-emotional development lays the foundation for a child’s overall growth and well-being.

As children develop, they begin to acquire language and communication skills.

Language acquisition milestones vary for each child, but there are general expectations that most will follow.

For example, by six months old, babies should start cooing and babbling with intonation.

By the age of one, they should be able to say a few words like ‘mama’ or ‘dada.’

Between 18-24 months, toddlers typically have a vocabulary of around 50 words and can put two words together to form simple sentences.

Effective communication strategies are critical in fostering language development.

Communicating with children using simple, clear language is essential for their understanding.

Repetition is also necessary in reinforcing new concepts or ideas.

Parents can encourage language development by reading regularly to their children and asking open-ended questions that promote conversation.

Furthermore, engaging children in activities such as playing imaginative games or singing songs with them can help build their vocabulary and comprehension skills.

As children continue to grow and learn, their language abilities will become more advanced.

By providing an environment that supports effective communication strategies, parents can help nurture their child’s love for learning while helping them reach important developmental milestones.

Problem-Solving Abilities

Critical thinking and decision-making skills are some of the most important problem-solving abilities that children develop in their early years. These skills are essential for a child’s overall growth and development as they help them deal with various challenges that come their way.

Children who learn how to solve problems on their own become more confident and independent, which helps them navigate through life with greater ease.

Developing problem-solving abilities in early childhood is crucial because it helps children learn how to tackle different situations. When children are given opportunities to make decisions on their own, they start developing critical thinking skills which enable them to analyze situations from different angles. They also learn how to weigh the pros and cons before making any decisions.

With these skills, children can easily identify problems and come up with solutions that work best for them. Therefore, it is essential for parents and caregivers to encourage problem-solving abilities in children by providing them with opportunities to think independently and make decisions on their own.

Fine Motor Skills

In exploring the development of fine motor skills, it is important to note that hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity are two crucial abilities that develop early on in life.

As infants begin to explore their surroundings, they naturally begin to reach for objects and toys. Through this process, they start to form a connection between what they see with their eyes and what they can touch with their hands. This connection is the foundation of hand-eye coordination.

As children grow older, they continue to refine their motor skills through various activities such as drawing, writing, building with blocks, and playing musical instruments. These activities require precise movements of the fingers and hands which promote finger dexterity.

By practicing these skills regularly, children are able to improve not only their fine motor skills but also their overall cognitive development.

It is important for parents and caregivers to provide opportunities for children to engage in these types of activities in order to support the healthy development of their fine motor skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

At What Age Do Babies Start To Recognize Themselves In The Mirror?

Mirror recognition and self awareness development are important milestones in a baby’s cognitive development.

Around 18 months old, babies start to recognize themselves in the mirror. This is a crucial step in their understanding of the concept of self, as they begin to realize that the reflection is their own image.

It is interesting to note that before this age, babies may show interest in looking at mirrors but do not yet understand that it is their own reflection they are seeing.

As babies continue to develop self awareness, they become more aware of their own body and movements, leading to further cognitive growth and development.

How Does Exposure To Music Impact A Child’s Cognitive Development?

Music exposure during early childhood can have a profound impact on a child’s cognitive development.

Research has shown that listening to music and participating in musical activities can enhance brain development, particularly in the areas of language, literacy, and spatial-temporal skills.

These benefits are thought to occur because music engages multiple areas of the brain simultaneously, promoting neural connections and strengthening neural pathways.

Additionally, exposure to music at a young age can help children develop an appreciation for different styles and cultures, which may have long-lasting effects on their worldview.

So if you want to give your child a head start in life, consider incorporating regular doses of music into their daily routine!

Is There A Difference In Social-Emotional Development Between Children Who Attend Daycare And Those Who Stay At Home With A Caregiver?

While many parents face the difficult decision of whether to send their child to daycare or keep them at home with a caregiver, one important factor to consider is the impact on social-emotional development.

Research shows that children who attend daycare may have more opportunities for peer interaction, which can lead to improved social skills and emotional regulation.

However, caregiver attachment is also crucial for healthy development and should not be overlooked.

It’s important for parents to carefully consider their options and prioritize what works best for their individual child’s needs.

Can Bilingualism Delay The Development Of Language Skills In Young Children?

Bilingualism has been a topic of debate among parents and educators for years.

While many believe it can delay language acquisition in young children, recent studies show that cognitive flexibility in bilingual children is actually enhanced.

In fact, young bilinguals have demonstrated the ability to switch between languages effortlessly, and even outperform monolingual peers in certain cognitive tasks.

So, while it may seem like speaking more than one language would slow down language development, the benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks.

What Activities Can Parents Do To Help Develop Their Child’s Fine Motor Skills?

Parents can play a crucial role in helping to develop their child’s fine motor skills through various activities such as sensory play and hand eye coordination activities.

Sensory play, which involves stimulating the senses through different materials or textures, can help children develop their hand muscles and improve their grip strength.

Hand-eye coordination activities, such as building blocks or playing catch, can also aid in the development of fine motor skills.

By providing opportunities for these types of activities, parents can help their child build important foundational skills for future learning and development.


In conclusion, the development of a child’s skills depends on various factors such as age, exposure to different experiences, and environment.

Studies have shown that babies start to recognize themselves in the mirror at around 18 months old, which is an essential milestone for their self-awareness. Additionally, exposing children to music can positively impact their cognitive development.

However, parents may wonder if attending daycare or staying at home with a caregiver affects social-emotional development. Research suggests that there may not be much difference between the two options. Moreover, while bilingualism may cause some delay in language skills development initially, it can also provide long-term benefits for children’s cognitive abilities.

As parents, one important thing you can do is encourage your child’s fine motor skills development through activities like drawing, playing with puzzles, and building blocks.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day; it takes time and patience to see progress in your child’s growth. With love and support from caregivers and parents alike, children can thrive and reach their full potential – after all ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ …and neither is a child’s development.

About Skillabilly Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff at Skillabilly is a team of Personal and professional experts in the education and career services industry led by Shalev Morag. We have been creating Skill guides and tutorials since 2022, and Skillabilly has become an impactful free skills and abilities resource site in the industry.