Influencing Factors, Interests, and Differing Abilities

Influencing Factors, Interests, and Differing Abilities

All children are alike, and all children are different. Some will naturally be drawn to and play with certain types of toys or equipment more than others. Some children may spend most of the day playing with manipulatives (like building blocks or cars). Other children will prefer the Reading Area of Learning and spend their time looking at books. Refer to the Reading Area.

Learning is influenced by many factors: genetic heritage, age, size, gender, culture (both home and community), interests, differing abilities, and medical conditions. These factors are very important to consider in what you can expect from a child. Educators refer to these differences as developmental ranges.

One child may utter words by 12 months and not yet be walking, while another may be walking at 10 months but not speak their first words until 18 months. This doesn’t mean one child is smarter, more athletic, or more advanced than the other. It may just mean that one child is developing faster in the area of language, and the other in the area of physical development.

What a child can be expected to do will be influenced by age and size. For example, a three-year-old can stand on one foot but not hop on one foot. Some four-year-olds can print some letters of the alphabet, whereas a five-year-old can print a word - CAT.

Another example of developmental disparity can be seen in the case of a child who is overweight; he or she will have more difficulty running than a child of the same height and age who isn’t. Adults may expect higher motor skills from a three-year-old girl who looks older because she is taller and expects less motor skills from a four-year-old boy who is shorter, which can be incorrect.

Gender also influences learning. Typically, girls develop faster than boys physically, including their brains and nervous systems. However, boys tend to have more muscle and are generally lighter in bone mass and weight. This is why many boys are quicker and stronger in physical games and activities than girls in their early years.

You’ll also notice that girls are generally more developed in fine motor skills than boys of the same age and have more interest in those activities (such as coloring, writing, and tasks like puzzles).

But be careful not to stereotype!

Boys and girls have consistent play styles and interests (Maccoby, 2002)

The belief that boys don’t play with dolls or girls don’t play with cars are examples of gender stereotypes. They each will play with both if the options are available! Girls and boys both need exposure to all learning areas and activities.

The paperback version of Create a Home of Learning is available at Amazon, your favorite bookseller or

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