The Importance of Early Childhood Development
Traditionally, parents have valued higher education, as the place their children will develop their skills and abilities in, in order to be successful and healthy human beings.
There has been an assumption for many years, that the high school or university your child attends, will heavily effect the quality of education a child receives and therefore who they are to become.
Only recently, a child's performance in primary school, has become a baseline to how they'll proceed into high school and so on, which is showing to be quite detrimental to the emotional development of young teens.
Early childhood has been viewed to be a time to play and be free and be protected and be innocent. A time where there should never be any pressure to independently make decisions and a time where a child's parents are in control and responsible for you.
However, this is extremely disconnected to the expectations that formal schooling has on children. How can we expect children to healthily transition into school if their emotional foundation is to rely completely on your caregiver and be completely directed by fear and uncertainty?
This is why early education is so important.
Any teacher will tell you that, what a child experiences in the first 5 years of their life, will effect the way they learn and develop for the rest of their lives.
Trauma councillors and psychologists determine that children cannot thrive when their emotional foundation has either been compromised or not developed.
And this goes beyond learning to walk and talk or how to write their name and be "school ready", this is a holistic development that needs to be nurtured from birth. At times, its not till later in primary school, that educators and parents see an issue in learning caused by am early childhood development delay.
Here are reasons why the first 5 years of a child's life is so important to nurture:
1. Children grow rapidly in the first 6 years of their life
Evidence shows that children learn more during their first six years of life than they do at any other point in their lives. After those first six years, the learning rate slows down.
In the first 6 years of your child’s life you are laying down the foundation for how a child will learn and achieve in school and in their overall future life.
These first six years of a child’s life are when the brain is developing the most. Neurons are developing more rapidly than at any other point in their life.
2. Cognitive blueprint
Whatever a child learns in the first years of their life will affect them for the rest of their life.
For example, in extreme and harmful environments, trauma can occur causing a child to have difficulties learning & developing, which will then negatively affect their adult life making it harder to reach goals, have healthy relationships and maintain their overall wellbeing.
Because these first years have such a big impact, you need to lay a solid foundation full of love, support, and happiness. Their experiences during these years will be the blueprint to how they achieve their goals.
3. Early intervention
In some cases, children may have learning difficulties, so the earlier you identify them, the higher the success of treatment for them. If you can see early on that your child is struggling, you will be able to provide greater help.
You can talk to a professional and get a valid diagnosis and treatment plan. In some cases, early treatment will help resolve the issue before it becomes more serious. The earlier you can identify a learning concern in your child, the better.
4. Play based learning
The more positive learning experiences a child has in the first years of their life, the more they will develop a positive connection to learning and will help them to develop confidence and a good self-esteem.
When a child succeeds at something early on, it encourages them to try again and makes them feel good about themselves. Then, they will try new things and take on new interests due to that boost of confidence.
5. Shaping Their Identities
Early childhood development involves personality. Babies start to form an identity as early as being in the womb. When they are born, each experience they have develops their personality in some shape or form.
The language we use when talking to children is very important. It allows them to reflect on how they’re perceived and what their role should be. It’s important to use positive, measurable and genuine language so they can see themselves in the most positive light and develop a strong personality.
6. Building Solid Relationships
As a parent, your relationship with your child will be their first experience of a relationship. The way you approach that relationship will set the tone for how you both interact for the rest of their lives.
Your child will watch you and learn from everything that you do. They may mirror the way you interact with them and others, or completely contradict your behaviour if it doesn’t sit well with them. Ultimately, the more positive relationships your child is exposed to, and ensuring they form healthy bonds with the people around them, will help them handle all future relationships.
7. Motivation for lifelong learning
Early childhood development has a major impact on future learning abilities in school. If children don’t have a healthy experience of education in the early years, they could have major problems learning in school and higher education.
What children learn at home and at preschool during the early years has a huge impact on what kind of learners they turn out to be in formal schooling.
They will have developed the foundational skills, as well as the ability to listen and concentrate during lessons.
8. Impacts Emotional and Social Health
Babies learn and develop through their senses and emotions, as they are not able to talk. This then makes them very good at picking up cues & emotions of their mother and caregiver. Babies know when you are upset or stressed, and it alters the way they feel as well.
If they see you are sad, they become sad as well. If you smile at them, they instantly smile back. Without language, that is their only way to communicate.
If their home and early years spaces are a safe and inviting environment, they will learn and develop good social and emotional health. They will understand there are different emotions and that it is okay to feel different feelings throughout their days.
Early childhood is the time to set the foundation for the rest of their lives, and not just in the social and emotional aspect, but all aspects of their life.
9. It Affect Physical Health
Early childhood development also shapes a child’s physical health. The sooner a child respects & understands the importance of hygiene, the more likely they will independently reach milestones like dressing themselves and toileting. They then can take this with them through every developmental stage a child has.
10. Enthusiasm for life
The approach you have on learning and experiencing new things will influence the way your child sees the world. Making life experiences fun and exciting role models a positive approach to life and make a child more likely to try new things and expose themselves to relationships and goals.
A child’s brain is like a sponge. They are curious about anything and everything. If your child learns to embrace curiosity and not fear things during the first few years of their life, it will make a huge impact on their future.
Hopefully this is enough for people to consider that educating their children actually starts at birth and that it's the foundations you lay, that will support your child to make smart, healthy and independent decisions that will effectively make them successful and balanced in their own right. Not just because they went to a "good" school, new the right people and supressed any individuality in order to be liked & chosen.