The Early Years

During the first 3 years of your child’s life, you will see more learning and growth taking place than during any other period. In those 36 months, your child will change from being totally dependent on others to being able to make choices for themselves. Science has determined that by age 3, a child’s brain reaches about 90% of its adult size. Therefore, a child’s earliest experiences have a profound impact on the way their brains organize and develop, and can affect their ability to learn and succeed in school and later in life.

Everyone who cares for young children makes a difference in how children learn, think and behave for the rest of their lives. When parents, especially fathers, are involved in their children’s lives, their children are more likely to be independent and self-reliant and more likely to succeed in learning and formal schooling.

Opportunities to affect the development of the brain in these early years should not be missed. Experiences in the early years of life matter because they affect the way the brain matures, building either a strong or a fragile foundation for the development and behavior that will follow in later years. Getting things right the first time is easier than trying to fix them later.

When a child’s experiences are disruptive, neglectful, abusive, unstable, or otherwise stressful, they increase the probability of poor outcomes. Science has shown that excessive stress releases chemicals in the brain that damage its development. THUS experience DOES shape the developing brain.

Just like in a game of tennis of volleyball in which there is interaction among players (“serve and return”), the children’s interactions with their parents and other caregivers in the family/community are also a game of “serve and return.” For example, young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling and facial expressions. If adults do not respond by paying attention to the child and doing the same kind of vocalizing or gesturing back at them, the child’s learning process is incomplete and will have negative implications for later learning.

Importance of secure relationships:

  1. The more consistent adults are, the more secure your child is likely to feel. And when children feel secure, they are more likely to explore, to experiment and to learn.
  2. Children who have secure and loving relationships with parents and caregivers, along with nurturing developmental experiences are more likely to do better in school and later contribute to society.