Good Beginnings for Better Futures
Children start learning even when they’re still in their mother’s womb. Early childhood is the most rapid period of learning and growth in a human life. What happens in this period can have life-long consequences. A positive start promotes the development of physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills which in turn, help build a strong foundation for success and well-being in one’s later life.
Table of Contents
Shape them through nature and nurture
Human development results from the dynamic interplay of nature (genetic and biological inheritance) and nurture (environmental factors). From the moment of conception, a person’s genetic disposition unfolds in concert with the social and physical environment in which they thrive.
Children’s survival, well-being and development are dependent on, and built around nurturing and dependable relationships. The emotional bonds that children develop with parents and caregivers provides a secure base from which to explore their environment.
When parents interact with a young child in ways that involve many warm, responsive exchanges, self esteem blooms and behavioral problems are minimised. Loving, effectively responses influence the person that children will grow up to be.
Now’s the time to learn
A young child’s brain is a chaotic jungle of neurons that are constantly establishing and reinforcing connections with each other. A child’s early experiences determines how these neural circuits become wired and thus determine the actual architecture of the brain. Exposing young children to a variety of stimuli is important as it provides them with the best opportunities for learning and growth during a period when their minds are most ready to absorb new information.
However, focusing merely on education without the health component will ultimately undermine the development outcomes of young children. Health in the earliest years lays the groundwork for a lifetime of vitality. Good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and sound mental health are important for children to thrive and grow into healthy adults.
Domains of development
On the whole, children are ready and eager to learn. While each child develops at their own pace, all children progress through an identifiable sequence of physical, cognitive, emotional and social growth. They are constantly gaining new skills to improve their interaction with the world around them.
Children between 1 to 6 are an active, energetic lot! Through hours of play, they are developing and refining their gross and fine motor skills, like balance, coordination, dexterity and agility. Walking, running, climbing and jumping becomes more automatic and less a conscious act. Activities like writing, drawing and basic self-care improves as they acquire strength in and more control over the use of their hands and fingers.
Early childhood is a time of remarkable mental development. As a child plays and uses their imagination, they are enhancing their cognitive abilities associated with memory, reasoning, problem-solving and thinking. Their vocabulary grows rapidly and their use and understanding of language continues to mature.
As children grow and are exposed to different scenarios, their emotional lives become more complex. he begin to learn more about what feelings and emotions, understand how and why they happen, recognise one’s own feelings and realise that others have feelings too. It’s important that they learn how to manage their feelings too, for the ability to respond to this complexity and the possible range of emotions will have an impact on their choices, their behavior and their quality of life.
Positive social interactions and healthy relationships with parents, teachers, caregivers and peers from a young age are critical for building a sense of security and self confidence in children. This lays a strong foundation for social skills and relationship building.
These developmental domains are interrelated in a young child’s overall development. They cannot afford to lose out one any for they enhance each other in terms of a child’s whole development. Developmental issues in any one area can delay development in other areas. This is why early childhood development programs today focus on these domains as a whole, offering children a chance for complete development and a simply brighter future.