The importance of early childhood development

Children are helped to be productive adults through early childhood development. Sources: www.livingandloving.co.za

Children are helped to be productive adults through early childhood development. Sources: http://www.livingandloving.co.za

According to UNICEF, 7.6 million children die each year; a further 200 million children survive but do not reach their full potential.  This bears a significant consequence for their respective countries as it means a potential loss of about 20% adult productivity.

Investing in a child’s early development is essential to the growth of any country. It means that the more developed the child, the more likely it is that the child will attend school, find suitable employment and potentially earn a relatively high income.  This will also improve the likelihood of lower crime rates and lower levels of welfare dependence.

Children who grow up in loving, warm and involved families are generally happier, healthier and are more socially evolved than those who do not.  It is vital that a child is surrounded by love and happiness as well as education to stimulate him or her socially, mentally and physically.  Educated and healthy people participate in and contribute to the financial and social wealth of their societies.

There are many factors which discourage the development of children, ranging from household income and healthcare, to geographical location, ethnicity and disability.  Also not assisting the child to integrate with other children of a similar age can be seen as disabling the child’s potential.  A child who attends crèche is more likely to develop faster than a child who does not.  This can be attributed to the fact that the child is not only exposed to other children from different homes and backgrounds, but the environment enhances the child’s competitive spirit.  Studies show that the more stimulating the early environment, the more a child develops and learns. Language and cognitive development are especially important during the first six months to three years of life. When children spend their early years in a less stimulating or less emotionally and physically supportive environment, brain development is affected and leads to cognitive, social and behavioral delays.

Team work and group work is encouraged in early childhood development phase. Source: news.fresno.edu

Team work and group work is encouraged in early childhood development phase. Source: news.fresno.edu

An environment which provides children with the ability and will to be more than who and what they are, at a tender age, is of utmost importance to the child’s development.  It is imperative that every child be allowed to develop to the maximum extent possible.  Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Children who grow up in violent or stress-filled environments are likely to grow up to experience the same fate in their adulthood. High levels of hardship and tension during early childhood can increase the risk of stress-related diseases and learning problems well into adult years.

It is therefore of utmost importance that children are seen, heard and most importantly allowed to develop to their full potential.  Children should be exposed to things which are beneficial to their mental, physical and social skills.  Not only does this enhance the child’s potential adult productivity but this could also prove to be beneficial to their social surroundings.

Asanda Sokanyile

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