Holistic Approach to Child Development: PROE Model

Updated: 4 days ago

What is Pathfinder Health?

Pathfinder Health is a child development expert in your pocket, to help you navigate your child’s development throughout the years. Pathfinder aims to empower you, the parent, to enable your child to reach their maximum potential.

Our doctors and developmental specialists have developed a method to do exactly that — putting your child first, relying on sound, scientifically-based information that puts you in front of your child, and not the screen.

Our method will be summarized in the next few sections but first, we’d like to explain a little bit more about child development.

What is Child Development?

The term child development is used in a variety of contexts and covers a very broad aspect of life. Children develop in a generally sequential or fixed order. This means that they typically must do one thing first before being able to do the next, though there are always some exceptions to the rule.

Throughout this sequence there are milestones or tasks, we expect a child to do within a certain period of time. You will often hear these referred to as developmental milestones.

Development, however, is unique to each child, and not all typically developing children will follow the same sequence, nor will they reach milestones at the same time.

Some children may reach milestones in one area of development sooner than another. For example, your child may start to say their first words before they can walk, whereas another child may walk before they speak. All of these variations can be normal. Some children even skip certain milestones. An example of this is a child who does not crawl on all fours before beginning to walk.

Though children develop at different rates, the general progression of many aspects of development occurs in a fixed order (e.g., a child will sit before they walk), particularly because skills often build on each other. Development in one area is usually linked to several other areas (e.g., learning to crawl provides new opportunities for exploring the environment, which then impacts cognitive development).

When there is significant variation from expected developmental milestones, that may signal that your child needs additional support to overcome developmental challenges. We want them to reach their maximum potential!

What is developmental screening? Why is it important?

To ensure your child is developing appropriately, your child’s doctor may have you fill out a questionnaire that asks about your child’s development, specifically about their developmental milestones.

We call this process developmental screening.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that this occur at your child’s 9-month, 18-month, 24-month, and 30-month appointments at a minimum.

This is an opportunity for your child’s doctor to gain an understanding of their current development and your opportunity to raise any questions or concerns. This process repeats every time your child visits their doctor since the milestones, or what is expected at different ages, change.

It is often referred to as longitudinal surveillance. Because your child is constantly learning and changing, it is important to capture their progress over time as they age, so that you and their doctor can more fully understand their development.

Pathfinder Health simplifies child development screening and longitudinal surveillance by putting the tools in your hand to track your child's progress. Rather than rushing to fill out a screening form in your doctor’s waiting room, you can do so at your convenience before the visit.

This removes the time constraint and allows you to more thoughtfully answer questions about your child’s development. You can invite others that help care for your child to also provide input, giving a more holistic view.

The results of your Pathfinder Health screening can be shared with your child’s doctor. This allows you to maximize the short time you have with your child’s doctor to focus on what you want to discuss.

As your child develops typically, Pathfinder Health is there for you with numerous activities and tips to help maximize your child’s developmental potential and to answer your questions about your child's development every step of the way.

Pathfinder Health grows with you and your child! If a concern is ever detected through Pathfinder Health screenings, we not only connect you to your child’s doctor to address it, we also connect you to other resources which speed time to intervention. In cases of developmental delays, the earlier children receive additional resources, the better the outcome.

What is Pathfinder Health’s PROE model of child development?

Child development theories try to explain how children develop, and what influences their development.

There is no single theory that accurately depicts all aspects of child development; rather there are multiple theories, each with its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to describing how children develop.

We believe that the key ideas of most well-known child development theories can be placed into one (or more) of four main concepts, Play, Relationships, Observation, and Experiences, that we call the PROE model of child development.

Pathfinder Health takes an active approach to child development and the PROE model of child development is based on action-oriented concepts which are detailed in the following paragraphs.


The Pathfinder Health concept of play is supported by child development theories such as cognitive development theory, maturational theory, and sociocultural theory. Encouraging play with your child at any age is a great way to promote their development.

  • Play is one of the ways your child develops physical, social and emotional, and cognitive skills.

  • Play allows your child to use their brain to participate in creative and imaginative activities. It supports cognitive development as children are constantly learning while they are at play.

  • Play supports development through the many actions your child engages. It can help with coordination, balance, and strength to name a few.

  • Play supports social and emotional development through collaborative play with others.

  • Playing builds many other useful skills as well such as cooperation and self-regulation.

  • Pretend play not only allows children to use their own imagination, it can also help them make sense of the adult world and build emotional knowledge, emotional regulation, perspective-taking, and cooperation with others.

  • Play is a form of exercise and will build healthy habits for a lifetime.


The Pathfinder Health concept of relationships is supported by child development theories such as attachment theory, psychosocial development theory, and behavioral learning theory. Spend time with your child as you develop the special bond that only a parent can. Your child will flourish because of the relationships they have!

  • Nurturing and responsive relationships with caregivers provide the foundation for your child's development.

  • Relationships support social and emotional development through the development of connections between a child and caregiver

  • Healthy early relationships are linked to social and emotional skills such as self-regulation and cooperation with peers later in life.

  • Relationships support language development through time spent reading together, singing songs, and everyday conversations.

  • Strong bonds and relationships are key to building resilience.


The Pathfinder Health concept of observation is supported by child development theories such as Behavioral Learning theory, Social Learning theory, and Attachment theory. Provide your child every opportunity to observe what is going on in their world, there is always something new to observe!

  • Your child learns from observing others and from others’ reactions to their actions.

  • Observation supports not only social and emotional development but also cognitive development.

  • Observation supports cognitive development in multiple ways.

  • Children use all of their senses in observing the world around them. They are constantly observing new things that help them learn.

  • When children are young, much of this observation is visual and tactile in nature.

  • Observation supports language development because as children listen to the world around them they learn about conversation and learn new words after hearing others say them.

  • Children’s observations of others’ emotions and social interactions allow them to see how their own emotions can affect others.


The Pathfinder Health concept of experiences is supported by child development theories such as sociocultural theory, behavioral learning theory, psychosocial development theory, and cognitive development theory. Let your child experience the world around them, there is always something new to learn!

  • Children build knowledge through their interactions with the world around them.

  • Experiences support areas of your child’s development such as cognitive and physical.

  • Experiences support cognitive development as children learn and adapt their thinking with each new experience they have interacting with the environment around them.

  • Experiences support your child’s movement through the interactions they have with the physical world around them. They learn how their actions and bodies impact the environment around them.

  • Exeriences allow your child to learn more about how their own bodies move in time and space with the environment around them.

  • Children learn about cause and effect through their interactions with the environment.

What is Pathfinder Health’s approach?

Pathfinder Health takes the science behind child development and presents it to you in four straightforward action oriented concepts--its PROE development model.

PROE will grow with you and your child, providing insights and activities to encourage your child along the way. The screenings and milestone tracking will reassure you that all is going well.

In the event there are any concerns, Pathfinder Health will be there to guide you and connect you to the proper resources. We look forward to our journey together.