June 5th was the national Early Learning Day of Action, a day that we emphasize efforts to enhance children’s healthy early learning. With current research, we gain a greater understanding of the importance of healthy development in the early years. This means that we must create safe environments for them that are conducive to growth and that minimize the potential for issues like violence, abuse, neglect or other trauma.
Brain development in the first five years
We know that in the first five years of life brain development occurs more rapidly than during any other phase of development. The entire brain architecture takes place during this time. This includes all the structures of the brain that allow different parts of the brain to communicate: auditory, language development and other cognitive functions.
We also know that children’s early experiences not only have a profound effect on their brain development but also on other parts of their life and health that can impact them even into adulthood.
I have referred to the Adverse Child Events (ACE) research that has been replicated with over 400,000 people. ACE demonstrates that the more adverse child events there are in the lives of our children, the more they will experience all kinds of health issues, relational issues and emotional issues.
What research tells us.
Research also tells us that nurturing and stimulating relationships with parents and caregivers during the first five years of life builds healthy brain architecture and provides a foundation for life-long healthy development and learning.
Conversely, early disadvantages, including experiences like growing up in poverty, can disrupt healthy brain development. These disadvantages have detrimental consequences for children’s long term outcomes, educational achievement and success in life.
Such disadvantages can cause children to be as much as one year behind their peers as early as when they start school. These facts along with those from other child development research make a strong case for developing programs and opportunities for children to have every advantage possible in the early learning days.
Help for ECE programs.
I am encouraged that we are witnessing a change in funding trends. These trends have the potential to be catalysts toward significant positive changes in our early learning programs. I will be discussing some initiatives and opportunities for our children to experience quality early learning programs in my next few posts. This is exciting and has such great potential for our children and their future.
Thanks for reading Lakeside Connect. I appreciate you taking the time to check us out!
Gerry Vassar, President, CEO, Lakeside Educational Network