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Children start learning and developing from the moment they enter the world – and continue to do so throughout their lives.

A child grows and develops very rapidly between birth and the age of five. During this time they will reach many ‘developmental milestones’ like crawling, walking, talking and playing.

Never put pressure on your child if they seem to be slower to do things than other children the same age – and don’t start worrying about your parenting skills. Children are individuals and most will reach the various development stages in their own good time.

Disabled children or children with additional learning needs may take more time to reach different milestones.

Younger children learn through play, so seek out opportunities for pre-school children to socialise with others the same age. If you are a working parent and your child is being cared for in a childcare setting, then they will be encouraged to interact and learn through play.

Something else you can do as a parent/carer is to read together. Experts agree that reading with your baby or young child helps to develop their communication and social skills. Being able to read well is crucial to learning, so as well as building a close parent-child relationship you will also be preparing them for school.

Your child’s formal learning begins when they are three years old and continues for more than a decade. During this time, you will need to apply for a place at nursery, primary and secondary school.

Parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their child receives appropriate full-time education. In practice, this usually means at school, although, for various reasons, some parents choose to home school their children.

Most children will settle into school without any problems; however, occasionally a child may exhibit challenging behaviour. Challenging behaviour is not the same thing as problem behaviour that is perfectly normal at a certain age, e.g. the terrible twos or teenage mood swings.

The smooth running of a school relies on a partnership between the school, its pupils and their parents, with respect shown for the ‘school rules’.

Most children remain at the same primary school and subsequent secondary school throughout their education. Sometimes, however, it becomes necessary or preferable to move a child to a different school, e.g. if you move home or your child is unhappy or is being bullied.

Compulsory education ends at 16, after which a young person must decide either to continue with their studies at school or college or look for a training opportunity.

Fortunately, teenage parenthood no longer signals the end of a young person’s education and both schools and colleges will support young parents to continue with their education.

Your child’s learning and development will continue long after they become independent – you can give them the best start in life by being a great role model!

Last updated: 21/05/2018