EARLY YEARS ARE SO IMPORTANT
How do children develop?
To encourage children’s best
development, we need to understand the various ways they
Children's physical development includes learning
large muscle skills like jumping and running, and
small muscle skills like cutting and pasting.
Intellectual development involves children's
increasing ability to think and solve problems.
Emotional development is about learning to
experience, identify, express and control feelings.
Social development means learning how to relate to
What do children need for
To thrive, children need a healthy physical start,
enough to eat, and warmth and affection.
To help their intellectual development they need a
safe and stimulating environment where they can
play, learn and explore.
They need encouragement and guidance from adults.
Why are the early years so
The earlier children
experience good care, the longer their developmental
Early childhood experiences have powerful effects on
the development of children's physical and emotional
abilities and influence their abilities in math,
logic, language and music.
New research indicates that infant brain development
during the first years of life depends on that
infant’s environmental experience.
The brain develops according to the quantity and
quality of the stimuli it receives.
Daily exercise increases nerve connections in the
brain. This makes it easier for children to learn.
There are periods of time known as windows of
opportunity in the child’s brain development when it
is especially open to certain kinds of learning.
The more words a child hears by age two, the larger
his/her vocabulary will grow.
Research indicates that toddlers taught simple math
ideas, like bigger or smaller, and more or less, do
better in math when they are older.
Early music lessons help develop skills which later
improve a child’s ability to think things through
and make decisions.
The brain continues to develop and mature in many
areas, but patterns of behaviour and emotional
response set in the early years are very difficult
to change or make up for in other ways.
What are the effects of high
quality child care?
High quality child care and
early childhood education can improve children’s chances
for success in later life.
The care that children receive in the early years
influences whether or not they will succeed when
they begin school.
Children who do not get good care when their parents
are not available have decreased language and social
Readiness to learn in kindergarten is the best
indicator that children will do well in school. The
care that children receive helps them to:
understand and use language
play and work with other children
accept adult direction
focus attention and do things independently.
Why should we care that all
children get the best care?
The social and learning skills children need for
success in school and work begin to develop in early
Several studies show that good pre-school programs
can improve how children do in school, especially
children who face such disadvantages as poverty,
poor housing and food, parents with mental illness
or other problems.
Good early child care can reduce later anti-social
behaviour, delinquency and crime.
Recent research links trouble-making behaviour in
young boys with later anti-social behaviour. It has
found that good early education programs have a
strong, long-term impact on decreasing anti-social
behaviour in teenage boys.
Why is high quality child
care a good investment?
The benefits from early
childhood care and education programs far exceed their
A four year Swedish study found that children
entering daycare at an early age did a number of
important learning and social tasks significantly
better than children who were older when they
Money spent on Head Start early education programs
in the United States has decreased the need for
spending on special education, welfare, teen
pregnancy, delinquency and crime.
Comparing the costs and benefits of the Perry
Pre-School project in the United States for children
at high risk for school failure and delinquency
shows that total benefits to taxpayers was nearly
seven times greater than the initial cost of the one
Further research into both these U.S. programs found
a big improvement in the quality of community life
as well as in the quality of individual lives.
These programs contribute employees to the future
work force who are better educated, with skills and
abilities to make them better employees.
TO THINK ABOUT
"Early life experiences have
disproportionate importance in organizing the mature
brain and are directly connected to children's optimal
B.D. Perry, M.D.
from: Incubated in Terror:
Neurodevelopmental Factors in the
‘Cycle of Violence’,"
Children, Youth and Violence:
Searching for Solutions
The quality of caring a child
receives in the first three years of life is the single
most important factor other than genetics influencing
that child's development.
Paul. D. Steinhauer, M.D,
Chair, Voices for Children
from: Kaleidoscope Magazine,
Hospital for Sick Children
"The interest in ‘early
education as prevention' is coming from those in
industry who are concerned about the quality of the
future work force, from families searching for adequate
child care, and from private citizens who are concerned
about the quality of life."
from: Early Childhood
Education and Primary Prevention,
Prevention in Human Services