Why this matters
Shaping our lives
Over three decades of scientific research has shown that what happens in early childhood helps to create the foundations for our future health and happiness.
Our ability as adults to manage our emotions, to concentrate, to handle pressure, to form relationships, to believe in ourselves, to trust other people, to learn effectively– all of these things and more are influenced by our earliest experiences. These in turn will impact on our life satisfaction and outcomes, including our socioeconomic status, physical and mental health, and how we parent the next generation.
This is because our brain is at its most receptive and adaptable when we are young, and although we continue to adapt and evolve throughout our lives, this requires more effort as we age.
How our brains develop
So how does this work in practice?
Going beyond the physical
What the science above makes clear, is that we need to go beyond physical needs and focus on social and emotional needs too. Nurtured children are the consequence of nurturing adults: to invest in children means also investing in the people around them — the parents, carers, grandparents, early years workforce and more. This is even more significant when you consider that all the brain development is sequential.
The connections that form first are those that relate to our basic senses like touch, smell and sight. Children use these senses to interact with the world, which then allows them to build more complex brain connections as they develop speech, reasoning, and self-control. Because early brain development and connections are so important for later development, early childhood really does represent a golden opportunity to build solid footings for the future. And whatever shapes us as individuals, shapes our future society.
The cost of lost opportunity