The overall development in human lives is the outcome of first five years. That lays the foundation and shape children’s future – health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family, community, and life in general.
These five years play a key role in a child’s life as they begin to discover the world around them and develop. A detailed scientific research proves the fact that in the first five years of life, a child’s brain develops faster than at any other time in his life. Research in neuro-science confirms the importance of the early years in a child’s life as 90% of brain development takes place by the time a child is five years of age. Research also indicates that the development of brain is influenced not only by health, nutrition and quality of care but also the quality of psycho-social environment the child is exposed to in these early years. A psycho-socially deficit environment or emotional neglect can lead to negative consequences for a child’s development, which may even be irreversible.
In a child’s early experiences – the things he sees, hears, touches, smells and tastes – stimulate his brain, creating millions of connections. These experiences that children have early in their lives affect their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development This is when the foundations for learning, health and behaviour are laid down in life. Children who experience more positive interactions in their early years go on to be healthier and more successful in school and in life.
Research evidences reveal that some aspects of development occur most efficiently at certain points in the life span. For example: the optimal period for oral language development in children is in the first three years of life, peer social skills are developed effectively during 3-5 years of life etc. Thus it is important to use these “windows of opportunity” and ensure that the children get the needed environmental inputs.
Children develop the healthiest when they are provided environments in which they can explore the world around them, play with others, and learn to speak and listen to others. To ensure the future success of a child, it is important to provide a strong start by providing experience which are based on sound theoretical foundations and are developmentally appropriate.
Preschool is an important stage which lays the foundation for life-long learning and all round development of the child. It is also the starting point of formal education.
The new education policy NEP 2020 has put proper emphasis on ECCE . This will enable early year educators and school promoters adopt the pedagogies that are appropriate and child centric, as it has given the early foundational eight years prime importance. It will boost not only the confidence in children but will prepare them for life. Children if given a strong base in early years will eventually derive the full benefit from school education.
Dr Sheema Shah is Director Aspire preschool and has been in this field for last 10 years.