Early child development refers to the first year of child development. It covers the first four years of a child’s life. This period is crucial for the child’s future as it forms the basic foundation for all the other stages of child development to follow. Early child development includes bodily, mental, social, and cognitive well-being, and the emergence of rudimentary communication and social behavior patterns. This is also the period in which a child learns to trust his or her own ability to help and to take care of himself or herself.
Early Intervention Also Involves Socialization Activities
There are several theories on how early childhood experiences can have an impact on the brain and its development. The theory of neuroplasticity suggests that children are affected by their experiences in the first two years of their lives, through alterations in neural circuits. According to this theory, these experiences determine the course of early brain development, affecting cognitive, linguistic, emotional, motor, and behavioral abilities.
These early child development interventions can be done through perinatal and neonatal care, meaning the care provided during pregnancy or within the first 12 months of birth. These perinatal and neonatal care interventions can be done through a wide range of methods such as in-vitro fertilization, intramuscular or subcutaneous vasoconstrictor injections, and various intrauterine devices. Other types of interventions include educational intervention using video games, dramatic play, and other media. Early intervention also involves socialization activities, personalized education, family programs, breastfeeding support, homeopathy, early screening for diseases, early diagnosis and prevention of disease, and health care management.
More Efforts Should Be Made In Promoting Early Child Development
All these methods have been found to be effective. However, there is still need for further research and studies on their efficiency. It is believed that more efforts should be made in promoting early child development. A multidisciplinary team of child psychologists, educational therapists, mental health professionals, social workers, and related medical staffs should be formed to provide quality services. This has been found to be highly effective in improving socialization and intellectual skills and reducing anxiety, pain, and infection in children.
The need for early child development interventions is important because every child has the right to live a happy, healthy, and secure life. Children who experience neglect, emotional abuse, or other forms of negligence at an early age are at a greater risk of developing psychological disorders and behavioural problems later in life. Socialization and cognitive development help children to grow up well-adjusted and well-balanced. Children who are exposed to positive social environments from birth and have a solid supportive family are more likely to enjoy good academic and physical growth.
Nutritional Interventions Promote Early Child Development
Good nutrition interventions can be implemented to promote early child development. Based on a series of research studies, nutritional deficits among preschool children were found to be associated with poorer cognitive outcomes and poorer academic performance as they grew up. A dietary supplement that contains key nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, fatty acids, and carbohydrates is highly recommended for optimal nutritional status. Some of the nutrients that are particularly important include calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium. However, it is often difficult to find foods rich in these essential nutrients. Therefore, dietary supplements could prove to be a cost-effective way of providing children with the essential nutrients required to facilitate good cognitive development.
It has also been found that the emotional experiences of a child’s early life and the type of interactions with adults can have an impact on their later life, well-being and cognitive development. Long-term negative interactions such as neglect, violence, or early sexual experiences tend to lead to the formation of poor adult attitudes, behaviour patterns and beliefs. Children living in nurturing families, where adults care for them and give them the love and support they need, have been found to have a greater sense of security and higher self-esteem. Conversely, children in households where adults are the caregivers and are not able to provide emotional support, they are more likely to experience low self-esteem and have low self-control.
The level of education achieved and the length of time spent at school also have a profound effect on an infant’s brain development and subsequent performance in school. There is an increasing trend for infants in developing countries to remain in their mother’s uterus, from birth. This is due to the fact that most developing countries have limited access to medical facilities during the first few months of life. Infants in industrialized nations spend a shorter period in the uterus and therefore suffer less stress, premature birth, lower IQ scores and lower academic achievement. This short stay in the uterus could be responsible for impairing the child’s ability to process information, learn language, develop attention and focus, and exhibit cognitive function.