Early childhood refers to the period between birth and 8 years of age, where’s a child’s brain is highly sensitive to the environment around. Early childhood experiences the development of the brain’s architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behaviour and health. A strong foundation helps children develop the skills they need to become well-functioning adults.
Five Stages of Early Childhood Development:
The five stages of early childhood development are as follows:
The first 4 weeks after birth is called new born stage, after which childhood begins. New born is a period when the baby grows very fast. While there’s a lot to learn as a first-time mom.
Infants can be considered children anywhere from birth to 1 year old. Between birth to 1 year of age, babies grow and develop. They learn to smile, roll over, sit up, clap, pick objects up, crawl, and some may even start saying a few words.
A toddler is a child approximately 12 to 36 months old, though definitions vary. The toddler years are a time of great cognitive, emotional and social development. The word is derived from “to toddle”, which means to walk unsteadily, like a child of this age.
Pre-schooler Age is about 3 to 5 year. This young child basically stops looking or acting as a baby does. In fact, movement, speech, language, emotions, and thinking become much more refined as a toddler skips, runs, hops, draws, and puts thoughts together in three or more sentences.
5. School-age child.
School age child development is a range from 6 to 12 years of age. During this time period observable differences in height, weight, and build of children may be prominent. The language skills of children continue to grow and many behaviour changes occur as they try to find their place among their peers.
Characteristics of early childhood:-
There are, however, some common characteristics of the period of childhood, which should guide you in the way you look at and work with children.
1. Dependency: having a need for the support of something or someone in order to continue existing or to thrive.
2. Vulnerability: being more easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked.
3. Resilience: the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.
It is important to recognise that these three characteristics are influenced by both external and internal factors. Children do not just acquire competencies and skills according to pre-determined biological or psychological forces. Of equal significance are environmental factors and the ability of children to make an active contribution to their social environments. And, of course, childhood is not a uniform period. A 17-year-old has profoundly different needs and capacities from a 6-month-old baby.
Importance of Early Child Development:–
The reason that early child development is so critical is that it lays down the foundations for the rest of children’s lives. The brain is at its most receptive during the first five years, which leads to early experiences having a huge impact on the development of neurological connections. This influences children’s brain functioning throughout their lives.
More specifically, early child development has a direct impact on children’s behaviour, social skills, emotional boundaries, ability to form close relationships, school readiness and level of achievement, even into adulthood.
As a result, it is important for parents and those who work with children to support and encourage development in all domains. All children learn more if the adults around them make a purposeful effort to help them. Think of cognitive development, for example; children can only learn the names of different colours or animals if they have been told them. In terms of communication, they can only learn new words if they are talked to frequently – there is a direct link between the rate a child’s vocabulary develops at and the amount the mother talked to the child in the first year (Bee, 1984). Positive behaviour also needs to be promoted in the early years to ensure that they understand what is expected of them in society.
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