Child_EducationChildren can be underestimated. They are born with the ability to absorb the world around them, and their experiences shape them in unique ways. The effects of early childhood development can have a significant impact on their success when it is time for school and future careers.

By age three, children’s brains are 82 percent of their adult size. It is vital to exercise the brain in its earliest years in order to reach developmental milestones later. Everyday activities like talking, reading and singing strengthen young children’s minds.

Trillions of neural synapses, or brain-cell connections, form in the first few years of a baby’s life. Connections will be lost indefinitely if a child is not stimulated with interaction and early experiences.

Playing, speaking and singing to babies prepares them to have a larger vocabulary, succeed in school and even increases their chance of graduating high school.

“The evidence is vast: exposing children before the age of five to stimulating environments strengthens their language development, social and emotional health, problem solving abilities, memory function, use of logic, analytical skills and ability to cope with new situations – leading to significantly better performance later in school,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of Global Partnership for Education, in a Huffpost Education blog.

Albright points out that countries around the world have recently embraced the evidence and began to invest in their early childhood development programs.

Although early childhood development is important purely for the well-being of children, research has shown profound economic benefits as well. According to the Huffpost blog, for every dollar countries spend on pre-school programs, there is a $7 to $8 of economic, health and social progress.

Successful initiatives begin well before pre-school, with pre-natal maternal health, proper nutrition for breastfeeding mothers and adult caregiving skills.

Many cultures around the world benefit from classes that train the community to provide nurturing and age-appropriate activities in pre-school. Particularly low-income and disadvantaged communities often need extra efforts to create an engaging environment that will strengthen the cognitive development of children under two.

Quality early childhood care feeds a child’s ability to reach their full potential and contribute to their society.

Some obstacles developing countries encounter in establishing Early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs are a lack of funding, limited country capacity and low social demand. Organizations like Global Partnership for Education combat these barriers by providing technical and financial support, providing grants to finance the programs and supporting capacity development and knowledge sharing by pointing to the evidence.

Even though children do not talk back initially, they will learn and understand faster if they are engaged and spoken to. It is vital to educate populations around the world on the impact of early childhood care on development because it is not always prioritized simply for lack of knowledge. Quality ECCE can transform the resilience of communities and reap economic benefits.

Emily Ednoff

Photo: Flickr