Early childhood development supports children’s development from birth to age five. It includes programmes and services that supports nurturing care including health, nutrition, play, learning and protection.
Important in Early childhood:-
Early childhood experiences from birth to age 8 affect 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.
When brain development in infants and young children is fully supported, they are more likely to reach milestones critical to future individual and community success.
• Third-grade reading proficiency
• High school graduation and postsecondary education
• Gainful employment
• Lifetime physical and mental health and well-being
• Avoidance of substance use disorder and crime
Characteristics of Early Childhood Development Stages:-
At each stage of Early childhood development, children gain skills in four main domains.
These domains are:
• The communication and speech domain. Children have to learn to communicate with everyone around them. As well as learning the language. This can be extremely difficult, and leads to interesting errors; for example, when a child learns that a round object is a ‘ball’, they have to work out if that means everything round is also called a ball. Is the moon a ball, and why not? It takes time to understand what separates one word from another.
• The physical domain. The body increases in skill and performance over time, going through gross motor development (learning to use large muscles, such as the arms and legs), and fine motor development (learning to use muscles to make precise movements, such as the hands and fingers).
• The social and emotional domain. Children’s identities, self-images and perceptions of feelings evolve as they grow. They also develop relationships with others, and learn how to socialise and follow social etiquette.
• The cognitive domain. ‘Cognitive processes’ are higher-level functions of the brain, including thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving. As they develop, children increase their understanding, improve their memory, gain better concentration, and refine their problem-solving skills.
All of these areas of development interlink at every stage – children can’t progress in one area without progressing in another.
Four major areas of development:-
As the months pass, your child will begin to reach physical, cognitive, emotional, and social milestones. Children don’t always master the same skills at the same age, but they do go through the same developmental stages. Children progress in a predictable sequence. They start simple, then move on to more complex tasks. Before taking their first steps, for instance, they learn how to creep, crawl, and stand upright.
Four major areas:-
1. Motor development
Motor development includes gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are big movements, like crawling, walking, running, and rolling over, that require the use of larger muscles. Early on, babies figure out how to use their neck muscles to turn, lift, and hold up their head. Eventually they learn how to roll over, sit up, creep, crawl, walk, go up stairs, climb, jump, run, balance on one foot, pedal, and more. As children grow, their balance, coordination, and agility improve, this allows them to master more difficult movements, like kicking a ball while running. Children learn more precise movements as they develop hand-eye coordination and the ability to use both hands independently. For example, they can pick up different objects, give high-fives, point, flip the pages of a book, thread beads, hold a pencil, and unscrew a lid.
2. Cognitive development
From birth, babies are already developing cognitive abilities such as thinking, memory, attention, reasoning, and planning. These skills allow them to learn, solve problems, exercise judgment, and understand their surroundings. Language is also an important part of a child’s cognitive development. In terms of language acquisition, babies start by cooing (vowel sounds like “ahhh” and “ohhh”), then transition to babbling (syllables like “ba ba ba” and “pa pa pa”). By 12 to 16 months, they understand that words have meaning and start to speak. Symbolic thinking develops between 18 months and three years. At this stage, children are able to represent objects and people in their minds. They can do puzzles and solve other small problems. They also start to play make-believe. Between ages three and five, children’s creativity and reasoning abilities improve drastically. For example, they can use logical reasoning to understand that a smaller box contains less than a bigger box. A four- or five-year-old can carry on a conversation, even if they make mistakes.
3. Emotional development
Emotional development is essential for children to learn how to express themselves, recognize and control their emotions. Your baby’s emotional development begins with the bond you share. It is through the parent-child relationship that babies develop a sense of security and confidence. Emotional development plays a central role in self-discovery, relationship building, self-confidence, and, eventually, academic success. That’s why it’s important for parents to interact with their children, allow them to make choices, and help them manage their emotions and understand the emotions of others.
4. Social development
For children to build relationships and live with others in society, their social development is key. They need social skills to make friends, get along with others, and be part of a team. Most of our day-to-day activities require interacting with others. Family is the first place where children learn to socialize. A child’s first interactions are the looks and smiles shared with his or her parents. Once children start spending time with other kids and adults, their social skills improve. But they will not intuitively know how to share, wait their turn, be polite, lend a hand, collaborate, follow rules, make compromises, or resolve conflicts. These behaviours need to be learned.