The Early Years Matter
Tidying up my desk and trying to file some of my paperwork in advance of the new term I came across some notes I’d made. These, from Susan Deacon’s Joining the Dots, reinforce the importance of providing our children with a high quality experience in their early years.
The Early Years Matter…..
- The portions of the brain which control vision, hearing and language development all start developing and peak before a child reaches the age of 18 months old
- Children begin to learn language and literacy even before they speak their first words
- By the age of three, 50% of our language is in place and, by five, its 85%
- Bt the age of 4, a child’s brain is 90% of its adult size
- Like the construction of a house, our brains are built from the bottom up – early experiences literally shape how the brain gets built
- A strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of a healthy happy child – a weak foundation increases the odds of later difficulties, sometimes lasting through the child’s life
- The important construction that happens in the early years will help determine the child’s future learning capacity, the ability to choose right from wrong, the ability to interact with others, or even the ability to develop trust and respect for other people
- The interactions between a child and parent – or other caregiver – directly affect the architecture of the brain
- Like the process of ‘serve and return’ in tennis, young children naturally reach out and communicate through babbling and facial expressions – the child smiles, so the adult smiles; the baby coos and the adult reacts.
- Singing, talking or reading to a very young child causes a reaction in the infant that causes the adult to respond – these positives interactions help build the foundation for future learning and teach children to have positive emotional connections with other people through their adult lives.
- Prolonged stress in the absence of protective relationships is damaging to the developing brain, and can result in future problems in learning and physical and mental abuse.