WHY THE EARLY
YEARS ARE SO IMPORTANT
How do children
To encourage children’s best development, we need to
understand the various ways they grow.
What do children need
for healthy development?
- Children's physical development includes
learning large muscle skills like jumping and
running, and small muscle skills like cutting and
- Intellectual development involves
children's increasing ability to think and solve
- Emotional development is about learning
to experience, identify, express and control
- Social development means learning how to
relate to others.
- 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
Why are the early years
The earlier children experience good care, the longer
their developmental gains last.
What are the effects of
high quality child care?
- 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
- 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.
High quality child care and early childhood education
can improve children’s chances for success in later
Why should we care that
all children get the best care?
- 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 skills.
- 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
- control aggression
- play and work with other children
- accept adult direction
- focus attention and do things independently.
Why is high quality
child care a good investment?
- 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.
The benefits from early childhood care and education
programs far exceed their cost.
TO THINK ABOUT
- 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.
"Early life experiences have disproportionate
importance in organizing the mature brain and are
directly connected to children's optimal development."
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
D. Steinhauer, M.D,
Chair, Voices for Children
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
courtesy: Voices for Children website.