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Why are the Early Years Important?

Research shows that a child’s brain develops at an incredible rate during the first few years of life.  The basic architecture of the human brain is constructed through an ongoing process that begins before birth and continues into adulthood.  Like the construction of a home, the building process begins with laying the foundation, framing the rooms and wiring the electrical system in a predictable sequence. A strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of positive outcomes.

Children's brains develop best in an environment of strong, consistent, nurturing relationships.  These relationships buffer toxic stress, and include a "serve and return" process where children's attempts to interact with adults are met with attention and returned, much like serving and returning a ball in a game of tennis.  When children lack these enriching interactions, they have less opportunity to develop their brains in these critical ways.

During the first years of a child's life, their brain is strongly shaped by their environment and experiences, positive or negative.  Providing appropriate experiences during this critical period of development can help improve a child's lifelong healthy development.  Children who experience extreme stress or trauma in the first few years of life are at greater risk of developing physical and mental health problems.  Chronic stress can result from neglectful environments, physical or emotional abuse, extreme poverty, parental alcohol or drug use.

Although we know parents are a child’s first and most influential teacher, everyone has a role to play in supporting the health and wellbeing of young children and ensuring they have access to the environments and relationships they need to thrive. In order for our community and province to be successful, every child needs opportunities to reach their full potential. 

Children's brains develop best in an environment of strong, consistent, nurturing relationships.  These relationships buffer toxic stress, and include a "serve and return" process where children's attempts to interact with adults are met with attention and returned, much like serving and returning a ball in a game of tennis.  When children lack these enriching interactions, they have less opportunity to develop their brains in these critical ways.

 

 

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