There is a vast amount of research linking early learning opportunities to children’s long term developmental outcomes as well as health, employment and well-being throughout the life course. Research by leading economists around the world has linked investment in early childhood development with economic prosperity, productivity and competitiveness for both the individual and society.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) just released a report in 2012, Starting Strong III, which noted that an increasing number of countries are making early childhood education and care a priority, with greater attention paid to service quality. The research continues to show that, increasingly, the early years are viewed as the first step in lifelong learning and a key to successful social, family and education policies. The report recommended that provinces within Canada take on a renewed responsibility to guide, fund, manage, expand and integrate a comprehensive system of early childhood services for children from birth to six years, and encouraged provincial governments to develop, with major stakeholder groups, an early childhood strategy with priority targets, benchmarks and timelines.
Role of Parents
Parents are a child’s first teacher and they play an important role in their child’s learning and development. Children who receive responsive and consistent care giving early in life develop secure attachments to their parents/caregiver, which helps with their growth and learning.
The Early Years Study: Reversing the Real Brain Drain (1999) by Margaret McCain and Fraser Mustard, the Early Years Study 2: Putting Science into Action (2007) as well as the most recent Early Years Study 3: Making Decisions Taking Action (2011) had a powerful impact on scientists and educators working in the field of early childhood development and learning. These studies demonstrate that children’s experiences in the early years have a significant impact on brain development and subsequently on social/emotional, physical, and cognitive/language development. In order to maximize the potential of all children in all developmental areas it is essential to provide every opportunity to enhance the child’s development during the first six years of life.
Predictors of Optimal Early Learning
The culmination of research findings has identified four primary areas of early childhood development that impact on future learning, success in school and life. They are:
- social-emotional development
- oral language and early literacy development
- early mathematical development.
Also established in the research are:
- the importance of play as a means to learning
- the importance of early learning programs being developmentally appropriate
Note: all links below will open in a new window.
- Starting Strong III: A Quality Toolbox for Early Childhood Education and Care
- Early Years Study 3: Making Decisions Taking Action
- Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (Key Messages Brochures):
- Canadian Association of Family Resource Programs (Why Play Brochures)
- Children, Seniors and Social Development (Your Developing Child Brochures)
- Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development
- Defending the Early Years – Lively Minds