Preemie Development - a quick look

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Keeping an eye on your preemies development can help you determine when a little help might be necessary.


Preemies aren't just small...

Sometimes preterm children can develop at different rates to a child born full term. In this way it is important to know the key developmental milestones and timeline so that you are able to give your preemie any help if required.

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Strategies for Processing Speed Difficulties

Some children, whether they are born preemie or not, have difficulties with some aspects of thinking. This section provides some recommendations for specific skills that are important for learning.

Preemies and Processing Information

When attempting to intervene or accommodate for a students’ difficulties in the classroom, whether it is memory, attention, or executive functions, it is important to consider the classroom culture as well as teaching style. Ideas that will benefit more students have a better chance of success.

Strategies for Processing Speed Difficulties

Processing speed refers to how quickly someone can take in and make sense of information, it refers to abilities like reaction time, how long it takes to decide on an answer, and how long it takes to look at an object or scene and make a decision or undertake an action. For example, someone with slow processing speed may take longer to read through and work out an answer to a multiple choice question, or they may have more difficulty “keeping up” with a story when read aloud or while taking dictation.


  • Some preterm children as with other school children have difficulty processing information as quickly as other students. If a child is unable to complete tasks at the same speed as his peers, they would benefit from a slightly reduced work load in class time (e.g. 7 maths questions, instead of 10), to ensure they complete work within the required time, without overly affecting their self-esteem and motivation.
  • Allow longer time for the student to respond to questions, complete assignments, and make decisions when offered choices.
  • Allow extra time for tests and assignments and emphasise the importance of accuracy ahead of speed, especially when evaluating performance
  • Simplified worksheets rather than making the child copy from the blackboard can be of great assistance.
  • Consider specific homework tasks that have the student practice “speed-related” tasks under less pressure, such as getting them to time themselves read through a list of commonly used words as fast as they can, or solve a maths problem.
  • Avoid timed activities in the classroom (e.g. fast maths game).
(Posthuma, de Geus, & Boomsma, 2001) (Cicerone, 2002; Hale, 1990)


Technical Reference List

Cicerone, K. D. (2002). Remediation of 'working attention' in mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury, 16(3), 185-195.
Hale, S. (1990). A global developmental trend in cognitive processing speed. Child Development, 61(3), 653-663.
Posthuma, D., de Geus, E. J., & Boomsma, D. I. (2001). Perceptual speed and IQ are associated through common genetic factors. Behavior Genetics, 31(6), 593-602.



AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



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